Coaching & Support Logs: 5 Tips for Getting Started

Coach and mentor time is precious—and expensive. Though we know coaching can change teacher practice, quality of time matters. It’s an administrator’s job to understand what’s happening at scale in order to tailor instructional support for maximum impact and demonstrate the program’s outcomes.

Whether it’s used for tracking instructional coaching, teacher mentorship, or another type of just-in-time assistance, a dedicated support log is a deceptively simple data collection tool that can lead to big outcomes.

Done right, the context can illuminate the “glass box” of instructional support and provide a comprehensive yet detailed view of where your coaching team must focus next.

Coaches and other support-givers typically use logs to:

  • Keep track of “where you parked.” Logs can be as simple as a record of who, where, when and how a teacher received support, and what next steps came out of the previous coaching session. Storing basic notes in a central place can go a long way toward cutting down catchup time and keeping progress moving smoothly toward the goal.
  • Build shared responsibility for reporting loops. Providing job-embedded support is a team effort. Logs drive alignment between principals and coaches—from validating campus-wide trends to capturing formative growth data towards instructional goals.
  • Spend time strategically. With intentional formatting, support logs can calculate time spent by category or subgroup in addition to individual teachers. This information helps practitioners advocate for changes that could improve their program.

Instructional leaders and administrators typically use coaching logs to:

  • Calibrate teams. When logs are shared and aggregating information in real time, leaders can easily align coaching time toward high-impact activities and district priorities.
  • Share goals and best practices across instructional teams. Anonymizing log data protects confidentiality while allowing teams to view their impact as a collective whole.
  • Advocate for support programs. Logs allow administrative leaders to bring transparency to the impact of support activities in order to advocate for programming and funding—or fairly allocate incentives to support-providers.

But as with any large-scale education data project, it’s critical to make sure logs are intentional and useful. Remember: it’s always easier to prevent issues through thoughtful design now than it is to sort through a mass of fuzzy data later.

5 Tips for Using Coaching and Support Logs

  • Build for usability. Imagine being a support staff member logging your own coaching or mentor session. Is there anywhere that could be streamlined? A log should take no more than three minutes to complete, otherwise it will likely get lost in the transition between meetings.
  • Balance customization with simplicity. Who/what/where/when is a given, but chances are you’ll want to include at least some metrics unique to your district’s program or goals. Consider alignment: how can coaching time serve as a sensing mechanism for district or school improvement plans?
  • Hybridize the information in a dashboard. Manually collating each log into reports is just impractical. Instead, consider a data dashboard system that gets information into stakeholder’s hands in real time. A report is a one-time tool for reflection. A real-time dashboard makes data a habit. If you want coaches operating from a data-oriented mindset, action must be sparked from regular data review.
  • Build in time for the data itself. Analysis takes time — hold space on your calendar for it. In the first cycle, you may even want to consider only looking at aggregate building-level coaching or mentorship time, rather than for individual accountability.
  • Consider your team’s culture. Professional growth can be deeply personal work—and for teams new to recording their activities, it can feel punitive to track activity. Consider anonymizing forms, establishing (public) norms for sharing data with leadership, and building buy-in with coaches. Once coaches see how you’re using the data to increase their impact, they often become the greatest champions of logs—make sure to lay the groundwork for this success by clearly outlining the “why” behind your use of logs.

Ready for more?

KickUp offers a software to power data-oriented professional learning organizations who are passionate about educator professional growth. Contact us to see how districts like Lubbock ISD are building, maintaining, and growing instructional support programs with smart data logs.

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