New administrators benefit from program’s coaches during pandemic
May 16, 2022
It’s been a challenging time to be a new school administrator.
Because of online learning, COVID safety protocols and supporting staff and students through a pandemic, new school leaders have been navigating their way through an era that has challenged even the most veteran administrators.
New administrators are required to have job-embedded coaches to clear their administrative services credential. One of the places candidates can find a coach is through ACSA’s Clear Administrative Credential Program.
The program pairs new administrators with highly trained ACSA Leadership Coaches who provide one-on-one guidance and support. Candidates work with local program coordinators to be matched with coaches in their area who understand their specific leadership role. At the end of the two-year program, candidates earn their Clear Administrative Services Credential.
Leslie Anderson is local program coordinator for L.E.A.D. Network, which serves candidates in the Tri-Valley area east of San Francisco Bay. She said many new administrators’ challenges started during the distance learning period, when they weren’t in the same room as teachers.
“In your first couple of years as an administrator, you want to build relationships and you want to build trust because that’s really an important aspect of the foundation of your capacity building and leadership work,” she said. “If you had to start virtually, it’s a little harder to build those relationships and get that credibility and trust early on in your role as an administrative leader.”
The challenges have been different for rural administrators, said Kim McKenzie, who is the local program coordinator for Shasta COE, which serves candidates from eight counties in the northern part of the state. Many candidates have job titles with multiple responsibilities and have taken on even more duties due to staffing shortages in this rural part of the state. McKenzie has heard of administrators having to step in as cafeteria workers, custodians and instructional aides, which leaves less time to be a leader.
“Their roles [as leaders often] don’t start until after everybody leaves school,” McKenzie said, “so it’s been such a challenge for them — just an incredible amount of pressure to support teachers.”
ACSA Leadership Coaches have provided support to help these new leaders in an especially difficult two years.
Coaches are trained in the Evocative Coaching Model, which was developed by Bob and Megan Tschannen-Moran. Evocative Coaching uses a person-centered, strengths-based approach to move leaders toward their desired destination through four movements: listening, empathy, appreciative inquiry and design.
Anderson said coaches, herself included, have been doing a lot of listening and expressing empathy as new leaders unload the stress they have experienced. “We’re trying to use some of our coaching time in understanding what they’re going through, hearing their story — and a little bit of self-care thrown in there — and then getting them to a place where they’re ready to think forward,” she said.
ACSA Leadership Coaches go through 12 hours of initial training and must complete two additional trainings each year to remain up to date with research-based leadership development topics. During the pandemic, social-emotional learning has been a training topic of great importance.
“Keeping up with adult SEL has been so important because our coaches are supporting the leaders on site,” McKenzie said. “Giving them the support they need so they can support the teachers has been huge.”
Although newly hired administrators have one year to enroll in a clear credential program, McKenzie always pushes new administrators to get a coach right away.
“Some of them say, ‘You know, I don’t need that right now.’ And I say, ‘Oh, yes, you do!’” she said. “You don’t know what you don’t know, and so many of them are so thankful to have those coaches immediately.”
One reason is having access to someone outside of your direct supervisor who can be an authentic thought partner. That’s been especially beneficial for Shasta COE’s Local Program, which serves a geographic area where the nearest peer might be hours away, McKenzie said.
McKenzie believes ACSA’s is the “platinum” clear credential program that helps administrators be successful in the long-term.
“I think the coaching piece enables our administrators to be successful beyond that three- to five-year shelf life,” she said. “We’re here from beginning to end. We’re here to support you, and even beyond that two-year experience with us.”
Anderson said one candidate exiting the program summed it up this way: “Having someone who comes and helps me reflect and listen — listens to some of my angst — but also believes in me and helps me move forward ... I can’t imagine doing this program in any other way,” she said.
ACSA Clear Administrative Credential Program
Registration for Fall 2022-24 cohort will continue through Sept. 15. Visit acsa.org/ credentialing for information and registration.
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