Every Coach Deserves a Coach
by Jennifer Waldvogel
Snow was falling, Thanksgiving break was peeking around the corner, and my role as instructional coach had officially been stuck in flux for the past year and a half. Prior to the pandemic, I never had trouble finding purpose in my role. Whether it was mentoring new teachers, building our blended program, running PD sessions, or working alongside teachers to try something new, I believed in my work and I felt happy as a coach. But like so many educators, the pandemic blew that sense of self right out of the water. Suddenly, every day was triage and no one had the time or the capacity for professional development, growth projects, innovation, or co-teaching. It was survival mode, and with that came a new demand for “making it work”. I found myself furiously onboarding digital tools, creating structures to support online & hybrid instruction, teaching part-time in a middle school classroom, and working without my team. Everything I loved about coaching was put on pause. I was drained, and so were my colleagues.
I was looking for more. I was looking for a spark, and so when IDEA offered their first Coaching Academy in November 2021, I jumped at the opportunity. To meet in person again with fellow Illinois coaches, to talk about our jobs and find inspiration sounded promising. I grabbed two of my teammates and we signed up. On the morning of November 11th, we walked into the Professional Development Alliance in Joliet, and I immediately saw faces I recognized. Coffee wafted through the air, chatter filled the session rooms, and it felt so good to be in the energy. Session to session, I felt renewed. Coaching is all about filling the cups of educators so they can fill the cups of students. Coaching Academy was the perfect refill. Zuica Donev helped me understand human motivation, offering strategies to tap into what drives teachers and students. Lindsay Zilly sent me into a world of games, icebreakers, and playfulness, offering methods to engage educators. Kim Darche helped me practice the art of conversation, a reminder that simple connection goes a long way. Michael Earnshaw painted a whole new picture of school climate, one that placed joy and personal connection front and center. I left the day remembering how much I loved coaching, excited to be a better support for the teachers in my district. On the drive home, my teammates and I shared insights from our sessions and made plans.
IDEA’s Coaching Academy caught me at a pivotal moment in my career. I was looking for answers, wondering if my role had value, wondering if I still wanted to be a coach. Talking with fellow coaches in sessions, chatting with conference directors Lindsay Zilly and Amber Heffner in the hallway, and listening to the advice of the caring educators presenting was a truly bright moment during the winter of the toughest year of my educator career. So if you’re feeling anything like me, a little lost and a lot tired, find a bright spot in this year’s Coaching Academy because every coach deserves a coach.
IDEA’s Coaching Academy is now the Conference for Educational Coaches (CEC)! Join IDEA and fellow coaches for two days of in-person or online learning!
But this was just a name change. It’s still the same fantastic conference offered by IDEA, in partnership with TCEA, for anyone and everyone who is leading professional development and/or coaching and supporting educators.To register, click HERE!