Are you looking to do something different with your Coaching Newsletters this year?
It is a great question to ask yourself!
As an Instructional Coach, we all know the value of communication with our teachers. No matter if you are an Instructional Coach supporting one or two buildings with a great deal of time to walk hallways, pop into classrooms, and get to know the staff members or if you happen to support more than a dozen buildings the struggle to make meaningful relationships is real and constantly on your mind.
Previously on TeacherCast, we looked at how an Instructional Coaches Newsletter can be set up and created to support teachers in all types of school districts and coaching programs.
In that post, we learned:
In this post, we are going to examine one of the many tools that are in an Instructional Coaches utility belt, the Coaching Newsletter, and share what might be a slightly different approach to creating digital communications for your staff.
How to Create a Successful Instructional Coaches Newsletter (Presentation) by Jeffrey Bradbury
What is the Point of Your Coaching Newsletter?
For many coaches, the point of their newsletter is to share with their teachers the latest edtech news and highlights from applications they know and love. They might fill their newsletters with videos, blog post links, and other digital learning goodies. Coaches spend a good amount of time each week making sure that they maximize their designs and layouts to provide the best possible product to their teachers each Tuesday. They might even have a catchy name for the newsletters.
All of this is certainly well and good and I highly encourage coaches create something special for their staff members on a regular basis, but one question always comes out of the reading of a traditional newsletter …
Are Your Newsletters Working?
Often when I work with a coach or read a thread of comments online about coaching newsletters, I ask the question “Is your newsletter working?” In other words, “is anyone reading your newsletter?”
For many coaches, the answer is “I don’t know” or … “I doubt it” which is, to be honest, heartbreaking knowing how long a coach might spend each week putting together something wonderful for their staff.
If coaches are going to be working hard each week to create a weekly communication platform one question is left to be asked …
How Can Coaches Create a Better Newsletter?
If you are searching for a new way to create your Instructional Coaches Newsletter, then continue reading. Today, we are going to walk you through a brand-new philosophy for Coaching Newsletters. A philosophy based on marketing and entrepreneurship rather than on impulse emailing. This philosophy is designed on first remembering what the purpose of the Instructional Coach is (and is not) and defining the function of the newsletter in relationship to a coach’s overall job description.
If this is confusing … it is ok … keep reading and we will work through your questions below.
What are Coaches Currently Doing to Support their Newsletters?
If you are like many coaches creating weekly or monthly newsletters, you might spend a few moments each day, or an hour on a Friday putting together your newsletter. You might do this in two steps.
- Curating & Creating Resources
- Designing and Publishing
I am always curious to learn how much time it takes for a coach to design the perfect newsletter (each week) using applications such as Canva, Google Slides, Bitmoji, or even Wakelet. I am sure that the process is fun and exciting but … I will ask again … Is your newsletter working?
How is a Coaching Newsletter Created?
Let us look at both a traditional coach’s newsletter and compare it to a slightly unique way of looking at your digital communications platform.
The Traditional Coaches Newsletter:
The traditional Instructional Coaches newsletter might be outlined like this.
- Release Schedule
- To Help Teachers Learn about” something”
In a traditional newsletter, the teacher is the primary audience member. It is only natural to think so given the way that a coach might define their roles in the school. In addition, the newsletter is traditionally made up of the latest and greatest in educational technology, supporting videos, and maybe a few templates created by the tech coach to show off what they can do in the classroom with teachers. The newsletter is released on a” Tech Tuesday.” (Why?? Who Knows) When asked, the coach might say that the reason for the newsletter is to share something with their teachers, drop some value bombs and hope and pray that a teacher fills out a sign-up form.
But … again … does the traditional method work?
Your New Instructional Coaches Newsletter
When looking at your newsletter philosophy with a bit of a marketing eye, you might outline your product like this.
- District – Strategic Goals
- Building – Principal Directives
- Release Schedule
- Based on PD (Professional Development) Schedule
- To Get Coaches into the Classroom to Support District and Building Goals and Initiatives
When looking at your newsletter from a slightly different lens, you might see your newsletter as a way for your administrator to support their building and district-mandated goals. The newsletter is not yours (exactly) but their way of getting teachers on board with new directives that they wish to show up inside of the classroom.
The audience for your newsletter, rather than being the passive teacher is the active administrator who is on a mission to bring forth change in their staff. The content of your newsletter is designed to support their primary goals and directions. In other words, whatever they are asking of the teachers … should be what is inside of the newsletter so you (the coach) can be seen as supportive of their wishes and demands of classroom instruction.
When choosing a platform, it is best to select something that your district is trying to get behind. If your district for example is pushing the use of Google Applications, it does not make any sense to use Canva or SMORE to create your newsletter. That will not give the teachers the ability to see the district-mandated application in action or to see what the possibilities of that application are.
Lastly, when looking at your newsletter with a marketing eye, it is important to make sure that you are doing it to meet the needs of your professional development schedule and are doing everything in your power to create a newsletter to service one goal … to get you in the classroom, so you can help teachers meet the needs of the principal and district goals for (digital) learning.
Do you see a slight difference between these two approaches?
Understanding the Role of the Instructional Coach in Relation to the District?
Before we break down the components of your new Instructional Coaches Newsletter, we must first take a step back and ask the question, “What is the role of the Instructional Coach?”
For many coaches, they say something like “I’m here to help teachers learn how to use technology in their classrooms.” However, this is not the correct answer. Helping teachers learn about technology and digital learning skills is what a coach “does” not what the coach’s role is in the district.
Long and short, a coach’s role is to help the district to achieve the goals and initiatives set forth and agreed upon in the Strategic Plan. Nothing more … nothing less.
The district might have a goal to improve their science scores. The function then of the Science Coach is to support this goal by working with teachers in the classroom to improve science scores.
In another example, the district might have Future Ready or Digital Learning goals. The district then might bring on Digital Learning, or Tech Coaches to support those goals. Those coaches will then work with teachers in the classroom to help the district meet their needs.
See the difference?
If the function of a coach is to help support the district and to help the district leadership team meat their directives … we must think of the Coaches Newsletter, simply as a tool to make those goals become achievable.
Does this make sense?
The Three-Part Coaching Newsletter
To create a newsletter to fit the needs of the strategic goals, curricular goals, and teacher it is only rational that we create our coaching newsletters in three parts.
Part 1: District Goals
The first part of our newsletter strategy is to help our teachers understand and promote various school districts and building level goals and objectives and how they might be included in classroom activities. This might be curricular in nature or might be wrapped around a specific suite of. Applications (Microsoft & Google) or a Learning Management System that needs to be installed and trained on.
Part 2: Curricular & Digital Learning Goals
The second part of the newsletter might focus on helping teachers meet the standards of either their curriculum or the ISTE (International Society for Technology in Education) Standards for Digital Learning.
Part 3: Teacher & Student Goals
The third part of the newsletter revolves around providing something to the teachers that they or their students are interested in. This not only is designed to keep their attention, but also gives them something to look forward to each time your newsletter comes out.
What Should Be Included in the Coaches Newsletter?
When looking at your Instructional Coaching Newsletter as a resource and tool to support your administration”s goals and directives, the next step is to determine what should be placed inside the newsletter.
- Initiative Quick Tips (Ways to help teachers meet the needs of administration)
- Calendar of Events (To keep them updated on district events)
- Instructional Videos
- Templates for Curricular Activities
Advice for Coaches Creating Newsletters This Year
For many coaches, the newsletter is something that they enjoy doing. My recommendation, if I can suggest anything with this blog post, is to make your newsletter a supportive vehicle for your administrators rather than a weekly email that your teacher must quickly look at and determine if it is of interest to them. When you create it as “the answer” for how to successfully have a great school year rather than a colorful document with links, they will be more adventurous in the contents that are in the newsletter.