As an Instructional Coach, have you ever found yourself explaining your role in the school to your colleagues? How about to your administrators?
How about … to yourself?
Unfortunately, for too many Instructional Coaches, they find themselves as being in a position of defense each day to justify why they exist in the district vs being in an offensive position working side by side with teachers and administrators.
Do you find yourself shaking your head when reading this?
In this post, we are going to look at an Instructional Coaching Department mission statement and vision statement and break down what should go into their planning, creation, and implementation.
A Mission Statement isn’t simply something that gets drafted and approved, they are vital documents that should be created with the help and (more importantly) the involvement of all stakeholders in the district so that, when sent into the school building and classroom, there is no doubt what the role, purpose, and function of the Instructional Coach is and what they should be doing.
In order to do this, we must first ask the question … “What is a Mission Statement?”
What is a Mission Statement?
According to the Dictionary, a Mission Statement is:
- An official document that sets out the goals, purpose, and work of an organization.
- A written statement that sets out personal goals for the future.
Your Instructional Coaching Department Mission Statement, in reflection of this definition, needs to be crafted as an official document and widely recognized in the school district by all members.
Do you find that your administrator treats you differently than how another administrator treats their coaches? This is the consequence of not having an agreed-upon mission statement.
One defining feature of a Mission Statement is that it is a declaration of both the “what”, “how”, and “why” of a department. The Mission Statement should not be confused with a Vision Statement.
What is a Vision Statement?
If a Mission Statement sets the role and responsibility for the department, what does a Vision Statement do?
A Vision Statement is a separate document that describes the long-term goals for a company. Vision Statements are usually created after the Mission Statement has been completed and agreed upon so that the group has benchmarks and a very loose roadmap to follow.
It is important to note that a Vision Statement is to be created using extremely broad terms.
Example Short Term Goals
- To establish an understanding of educational technology standards and ISTE standards to set benchmarks and personal goals for buildings, staff, and students.
- To establish Microsoft Teams as a Digital and Professional Learning platform
- Establish school and district Professional Learning Communities focused on measuring and improving instructional practice using digital resources.
- To create a pathway of learning for staff members to become members of globally recognized professional learning communities.
- To curate and deploy digital learning resources and instructional tools to meet the needs of PreK-12 staff members and curricular standards.
- To create and deploy a model for professional coaching and collaboration.
Example Long Term Goals
- To create an Instructional Technology Integration Plan based on District Strategic Plan to serve as a Professional Development roadmap and guide for digital learning in our school district.
- To develop and deploy a K-8 Digital Citizenship curriculum that is based on Common Sense Education guidelines and ISTE Standards for Students and Teachers
- Develop a pathway for being recognized as a:
- Common Sense Media School District
- Microsoft Showcase School District
- Future Ready School District
What's the difference between a Mission Statement and a Vision Statement?
One of the biggest differences between a Mission and a Vision statement is that one could be thought of as a public declaration, while the other one can be left private between the members of the group or organization. For example:
- A public document agreed upon by the district
- Shared with the School District (website)
- States the purpose of the department
- A series of benchmarks agreed upon by the department
- Shared with only the department for internal motivations
- States where the department wishes to be in the future
- Includes long-term and short-term goals
How To Create a Mission Statement?
When composing your Instructional Coaching Department’s Mission Statement, the goal should not only be to plant your flag in your digital soil but also incorporate your overall goals and with the inclusion of a short description of what an Instructional Coach looks like.
Where there traditionally is no true definable template for what a Mission Statement looks like, below is an example of what a Mission Statement should look like.
The mission statement is composed of the following segments:
- A clearly definable snapshot of your school district.
- A statement of what your role is in the structure of the district.
- A brief description of the qualifications of an Instructional Coach.
- A statement of what the role of the Instructional Coach will be in the classroom environment.
When planning your mission statement, it’s important to have clear discussions with your stakeholders, but also with your greater administration team to determine what the function of the Instructional Coaching department be both in the eyes of teachers, building administrators, and central office.
Example Mission Statement
“My School District” is comprised of “X” students and “X” staff members serving more than “X” families across “X” educational campuses. The mission of the Digital Learning department is to serve as an equitable conduit for both Curricular and Educational Technology standards to provide a comprehensive professional learning program for teachers to succeed in the classroom and for students to become college and career ready.
Digital Learning Coaches are first exemplary educators who, in addition to being experts in their subject areas and fields of study, are recognized for their achievement in the educational technology community. The role of the Digital Learning Coach in “MySchoolDistrict” is to work in collaboration with peers and building administrators to inspire excellence in the classroom by providing staff members with opportunities for collaboration, reflection, and growth.
Why This Mission Statement?
When creating your Instructional Coaching Mission Statement, it is important to be both concise but direct. Here is a breakdown of why and how the above Mission Statement was created:
A clearly definable snapshot of your school district.
“My School District” is comprised of “X” students and “X” staff members serving more than “X” families across “X” educational campuses.
When crafting a Mission Statement, it’s important to first build the box from which your world will live in. With this sentence, your mission is defined by the scope of the project. Your department, your mission, and your ultimate vision for success are going to support a school district of “X” size and “X” shape across “X” number of buildings.
A statement of what your role is in the structure of the district.
The mission of the Digital Learning department is to serve as an equitable conduit for both Curricular and Educational Technology standards to provide a comprehensive professional learning program for teachers to succeed in the classroom and for students to become college and career ready.
For many Instructional Coaches, their day is spent defending and defining their role in their school districts. By using words such as “equitable conduit” you are declaring that you are going to be looked at, thought of, and directed equally by both what happens in the technology and curricular departments. In essence, your focus in the classroom will be both on “what is” being taught in the classroom and “how” it is being taught.
The term “comprehensive professional learning program” is being used to demonstrate that the role of the coach is not to simply be around for “tech needs” and is in fact to be thought of as a 1:1 and individualized professional development partner in the classroom. This type of partnership should be happening in a variety of places and times throughout the school day and school year.
By adding “teachers to succeed in the classroom” allows the department to showcase where their strength is when supporting this partnership. Coaches are primary to be thought of as “educators that …” rather than “tech people who …” which is often another point of frustration for coaching programs.
Ultimately, this sentence leaves users with the true mission of an Instructional Coaching program which is to help students become successful both in and out of the classroom and well beyond the boundaries of their time in the school district.
A brief description of the qualifications of an Instructional Coach.
Digital Learning Coaches are first exemplary educators who, in addition to being experts in their subject areas and fields of study, are recognized for their achievement in the educational technology community.
This part of the mission statement is designed to support not only current coaches in the program but also to define what the job description is of coaches. The term “exemplary educator” is used to support the idea of teachers being seen as mentors to other teachers beyond the traditional duties of the coaching model. By using “experts in their subject areas and fields of study” it is another declaration that, although the greater knowledge of educational technology is important, teachers will not be interested in working with anyone who doesn’t have at least a loose grasp of the subjects they are teaching. Coaches should be first seen as curricular partners before they are seen as “edtechnicians.”
The theme of this section is not only how teachers will like, know, and trust their coaches, but also how administrators will like, know, and trust their coaches. For this reason, we add the phrase “achievement in the educational technology community.” This is designed to support those teachers in the school district who are always doing great things and whose natural next progression of their careers would be to transition from being a classroom teacher to being a building-level coach.
A statement of what the role of the Instructional Coach will be in the classroom environment.
The role of the Digital Learning Coach in “X District” is to work in collaboration with peers and building administrators to inspire excellence in the classroom by providing staff members with opportunities for collaboration, reflection, and growth.
This phrase, in the middle of the mission statement, is designed to set up what the coach should be responsible and expected to be doing every day. “Working in collaboration with peers and building administrators” is a declaration that the coach should be not seen as an equal to the teacher but as a supporting professional who has the full support of the administrator with whom they are in constant contact. By ending this statement with “opportunities for collaboration, reflection, and growth,” again reminds us that the mission is to be a constant partnership between two professionals rather than an “occasionally when a teacher needs something” type of relationship.
How to leverage your Essential Question and District Snapshot?
If we step back and look at a school district as a triangle, we end up having three key directives.
In creating an EdTech Integration Plan a district first creates the “what” when it approves its strategic plan. The “how” is the roadmap that will be answered at the end of the EdTech Integration Plan process. It is only after those two things are set that the “through” can be created in the mission of the Instructional Coaching program. It is the coaches that provide the “through” because they are the ones directly working in the classroom with both the teachers and the students.
At this point in the EdTech Integration Plan process, your district has created a District Snapshot and has a clear expectation for what the final project will look like by creating a Final Product Outline. Once your Essential Question and Coaching Mission Statements are created, it’s time to turn your sights and attention onto the stakeholders in your district by creating a Staff Needs Assessment.
When creating an Instructional Coaching program and making an investment in both personal and programs, it is important to have a clear definition of who you are, what your role is in the district, and how will teachers be supported. Is the above Instructional Coaching Mission Statement perfect? Of course not, but my hope is to provide a structure and framework for you to build and create your own instructional coaching mission statements.