All Articles Education Educational Leadership Nurturing well-being: A guide for instructional coaches to "be well loudly"

Nurturing well-being: A guide for instructional coaches to “be well loudly”

Ensure you're advocating for and practicing intellectual, mental and physical well-being to sustain coaching practices and prevent burnout.

5 min read

EducationEducational Leadership

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In the fast-paced world of instructional coaching where our dedication to serving other educators takes precedence, the crucial aspect of self-care can quickly fade into the background. This article serves as a compass, guiding instructional coaches to cultivate well-being habits and challenge the belief that “be well loudly” doesn’t apply to them.

Understanding “be well loudly”

Before examining the strategies, let’s unravel the phrase. This expression means openly prioritizing your well-being, not just practicing self-care alone. It’s also about confidently communicating and modeling these practices for others to see and learn from. As an instructional coach, I’ve struggled with this, but I hope I’m encouraging coaches to prioritize their well-being confidently, as I’ve learned over the years.

Challenges faced by instructional coaches

Organizational cultures, especially in schools, often prioritize productivity over well-being, creating a reluctance to prioritize self-care openly. Some coaches lack explicit guidance or resources for well-being, making it difficult to integrate practices into routines and communicate them effectively. Fear of judgment from colleagues or superiors leads to downplaying self-care efforts, hindering confident well-being modeling.

What if coaches don’t prioritize well-being?

Amid challenges, neglecting well-being can lead to burnout, decreased job satisfaction and strained relationships. Ignoring self-care affects physical and mental health, resulting in strained relationships. Ignoring self-care affects physical and mental health, resulting in stress-related issues and diminished resilience. Coaches who lack self-care may struggle to support teachers effectively, hindering their growth and neglecting their well-being, sending a message to teachers that it’s not essential. 

But how can we do this beyond general self-care advice like exercise, eat right and sleep, usually done outside school? Here are some strategies to be done at work. 

Engage in diverse self-care practices at work

Intellectual well-being

Peer coaching circles

  • Create peer coaching circles (in-person or online) for collaborative problem-solving and insight-sharing in a small, supportive group. Small peer coaching circles foster ongoing professional dialogue, reducing isolation and enhancing well-being to discuss challenges, seek advice and offer support. Peer coaching circles provide a space for open sharing, valuable insights and peer support, enhancing professional growth and prioritizing well-being through meaningful connections.

Peer observation exchanges

  • Organize peer observation exchanges for coaches to observe each other’s coaching styles and techniques. Peer observations provide valuable insights, foster collaboration and promote continuous improvement among coaches by establishing a system for coaches to visit each other’s coaching sessions and offer constructive feedback, creating a supportive learning environment. Peer observation exchanges enable a rich exchange of insights, refining coaching techniques and learning from diverse approaches. Improvement strengthens the coaching community and supports professional growth and well-being.

Mental well-being

Incorporate joyful learning practices

  • Integrate joy and playfulness into coaching sessions for a positive learning environment to enhance the coaching atmosphere, benefiting teachers and coaches. Infuse sessions with interactive activities, encouraging creativity. Joyful learning practices transform coaching, fostering engagement and fulfillment. They also enhance teaching and coaching satisfaction and promote overall well-being.

Reflective coaching written or video Journal

  • Implement a reflective coaching journal to record daily experiences, challenges and successes. Journaling enhances self-awareness, aiding in goal setting and celebrating achievements. Offer prompts for continuous self-reflection, and a written or video reflective coaching journal provides an opportunity for introspection. It fosters deeper self-awareness by documenting experiences, challenges and successes, aiding in navigating coaching complexities.

Physical well-being

Scheduled “me time” blocks and use of time blocking of schedule

  • Integrate short “me time” blocks into coaches’ schedules for personal activities like walks or reading, along with using time blocking to engineer your schedule for productivity to prevent burnout, promote self-care and make your working time more productive. Coordinate with administrators to schedule non-negotiable “me time” blocks, respect coaches’ need for balance and share your time-blocking strategy. Incorporating “me time” blocks can safeguard against burnout, prioritizing self-care and relaxation. These structured breaks are essential for sustaining effective coaching practices. Using time blocking allows you to get more done in less time.

Advocacy for coach well-being

  • Advocate for policies prioritizing and supporting instructional coaches’ well-being within the school or district. For example, as department coordinator in my district, I found that many coaches did not have lunch daily because the administration pulled them for various activities around meetings coaches had already scheduled with teachers. Coaches were also being pulled into every initiative and meeting under the sun, giving them little time to work directly with teachers in coaching cycles and support. Institutional support is crucial for sustainable coaching practices; advocating for well-being reinforces the importance of coaches’ roles.

Engage with school leadership to communicate the importance of coach well-being, propose policies that support work-life balance and ensure access to necessary resources. Advocacy for coach well-being is a powerful strategy for me as a coach because it recognizes the pivotal role of institutional support in maintaining sustainable coaching practices. By actively engaging with school leadership and proposing policies that foster work-life balance, this strategy safeguards coaches from burnout and reinforces their significance in supporting effective teaching practices.

As instructional coaches, our commitment to supporting teachers is unwavering, yet we often overlook the importance of our well-being in the pursuit of empowering others. We must learn to cultivate habits and practices that prioritize self-care and confidently communicate our needs and boundaries.

Addressing the specific needs of instructional coaches with these tailored self-care strategies during professional hours, the article aims to empower coaches to prioritize their well-being, leading to a more sustainable and fulfilling coaching practice. Instructional coaches must recognize the importance of “be well loudly” and actively integrate self-care practices into their professional and personal lives. It helps sustain coaching practices, build positive teacher relationships, model behavior, prevent burnout, foster personal and professional growth, shape organizational culture and enhance overall job satisfaction and fulfillment.


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