Are you looking to do something different with your Coaching newsletters this year?
This is an excellent question to ask yourself!
As educational coaches, we all know the value of communication with our teachers. It doesn’t matter if you’re an instructional coach supporting one or two buildings with plenty of time to walk the halls, enter classrooms and get to know the staff members or if you support more than a dozen buildings , the struggle to make relationships meaningful is real and constantly on your mind.
Previously on TeacherCastWe looked at how an instructional coach newsletter can be set up and created to support teachers in all types of school districts and coaching programs.
In this post, we learned:
In this article, we’ll take a look at one of the many tools contained in an instructional coaches utility belt, the coaches newsletter, and share what might be a slightly different approach to creating digital communications for your staff.
How to create a successful newsletter for instructional coaches (overview) by Jeffrey Bradbury
What is the purpose of your coaching newsletter?
For many coaches, the purpose of their newsletter is to share with their teachers the latest edtech news and highlights of apps they know and love. They can fill their newsletters with videos, links to blog posts, and other digital learning goodies. Coaches spend a lot of time every week making sure they are maximizing their designs and layouts to deliver the best possible product to their teachers every Tuesday. They might even have a catchy name for the newsletters.
This is certainly all very well and I strongly encourage coaches to create something special for their staff members on a regular basis, but one question always arises from reading a traditional newsletter…
Are your newsletters working?
Often when I’m working with a coach or reading a comment thread 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 to know how much time a coach can spend each week preparing something wonderful for its staff.
If coaches are going to work hard every week to create a weekly communication platform, one question remains…
How can coaches create a better newsletter?
If you’re looking for a new way to create your instructional coaching newsletter, keep reading. Today we’re going to introduce you to a whole new philosophy for coaching newsletters. A philosophy based on marketing and entrepreneurship rather than impulsive emailing. This philosophy is designed to first remember what the purpose of the instructional coach is (and is not) and defines the function of the newsletter in relation to the overall job description of a coach. .
If that’s confusing…that’s okay…keep reading and we’ll answer your questions below.
What are coaches currently doing to support their newsletters?
If you’re like many coaches who create weekly or monthly newsletters, you could spend a few moments each day, or an hour on Fridays, creating your newsletter. You can do this in two steps.
- Resource conservation and creation
- Design and publication
I’m always curious how long it takes a coach to design the perfect newsletter (every week) using apps like Cloth, Google Slides, Bitmojior even Wakelet. I’m sure the process is fun and exciting but…I’ll ask again… Does your newsletter work?
How is a coaching newsletter created?
Let’s take a look at both a traditional coach’s newsletter and compare it to a somewhat unique way of looking at your digital communication platform.
The newsletter of traditional coaches:
The traditional instructional coach newsletter could be described like this.
- Release schedule
- To help teachers learn “something”
In a traditional newsletter, the teacher is the main audience. It is natural to think so given how a coach might define their roles in the school. Additionally, the newsletter is traditionally made up of the latest and greatest in educational technology, support 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 published on a “Tech Tuesday”. (Why?? Who knows) When asked, the coach may say that the reason for the newsletter is to share something with their teachers, to drop some value bombs, and to hope and pray that a teacher fills out a registration form.
But… again… does the traditional method work?
Your newsletter for new instructional coaches
When looking at your newsletter philosophy with a marketing eye, you can describe your product like this.
- District – Strategic Objectives
- Building – Main Guidelines
- Release schedule
- Based on the PD (Professional Development) schedule
- To bring coaches into the classroom to support district and building goals and initiatives
When you look at your newsletter from a slightly different angle, you can view your newsletter as a way for your admin to support their building and district goals. The newsletter is not yours (exactly), but their way of bringing teachers on board with new guidelines they want to display inside the classroom.
Your newsletter audience, rather than being the passive teacher, is the active administrator on a mission to bring about change in their staff. Your newsletter content is designed to support their main goals and directions. In other words, anything they ask of teachers…should be in the newsletter so that you (the coach) can be seen as supporting their classroom teaching wishes and demands.
When choosing a platform, it’s best to select something that your district is trying to achieve. If your district, for example, is pushing the use of Google apps, it doesn’t make sense to use Canva or SMORE to create your newsletter. This will not give teachers the ability to see the district-mandated app in action or see what the capabilities of that app are.
Finally, when looking at your newsletter with a marketing eye, it’s important to make sure that you’re doing it to meet the needs of your professional development calendar and that you’re doing everything in your power to create a newsletter that serves your needs. ‘one goal…get you in the classroom, so you can help teachers meet the needs of major and district goals for (digital) learning.
Do you see a slight difference between these two approaches?
Understand the role of the educational coach in relation to the district?
Before we break down the components of your new instructional coach 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 become familiar with technology and digital learning skills is what a coach “does” and not their role in the district.
In short, the role of a coach is to help the district achieve the goals and initiatives defined and agreed upon in the strategic plan. No more no less.
The district could aim to improve its science performance. The function of the science coach is then to support this goal by working with teachers in the classroom to improve science scores.
In another example, the district may have Future Ready or Digital Learning goals. The district can then use digital learning or technical coaches to support these goals. These coaches will then work with the teachers in the classroom to help the district meet their needs.
Look at the difference?
If a coach’s job is to help support the district and help the district leadership team follow their guidelines…we need to think of the coaches newsletter, simply as a tool to make those goals achievable.
Does that make sense?
The three-part coaching newsletter
To create a newsletter tailored to the needs of strategic objectives, educational objectives and the teacher, it is rational to 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 the different school districts and building level goals and objectives and how they might be included in classroom activities. This can be curricular in nature or can be wrapped around a specific suite of. Applications (Microsoft and Google) or a learning management system that needs to be installed and trained.
Part 2: Curricular and numerical learning objectives
The second part of the newsletter could focus on helping teachers meet their curriculum standards or the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) standards for digital learning.
Part 3: Teacher and Student Goals
The third part of the newsletter is to provide teachers with something that interests them or their students. This is not only designed to hold their attention, but also gives them something to look forward to whenever your newsletter comes out.
What should be included in the coaches newsletter?
As you view your instructional coaching newsletter as a resource and tool to support your administration’s goals and guidelines, the next step is to determine what should be placed in the newsletter.
- Quick tips on the initiative (ways to help teachers meet the needs of the administration)
- Calendar of Events (to keep them up to date with district events)
- Instructional Videos
- School activity templates
Coaching tips for creating newsletters this year
For many coaches, the newsletter is something they enjoy doing. My recommendation, if I may suggest anything with this blog post, is to make your newsletter a vehicle of support for your administrators rather than a weekly email that your teacher should quickly review and determine if they interested. When you craft it as “the answer” to having a great school year rather than a colorful document with links, they will be more adventurous in newsletter content.