10 Differences Between Teaching and Coaching

I believe in the power of the coaching model. This afternoon, I will have an amazing grammar guru in my class modeling a lesson. I will engage in a dialogue with her. With her guidance, I will grow in one of my weakest areas of teaching. So, when I mention these differences, I want to be clear that I don't believe that coaching is better or worse than teaching. However, I do believe that they are very different from one another. Here are a few differences I've experienced:

  1. When I coached, I was thinking about teachers and instruction. When I'm teaching, my thoughts are all about students and learning. 
  2. When I coached, I was much more aware of motivation. I could see when students were bored. When I'm teaching, it's more inherently interesting to me. I have a harder time seeing the boredom. 
  3. When I coached, I was able to plan amazing lessons. I could do an hour of prep for every hour of teaching. Now I'm teaching six subjects with forty-five minutes of prep a day. It's much more challenging. My lessons feel less polished, because they are less polished. 
  4. When I coached, I saw classes. When I teach, I see students. I know their names. I know their stories. 
  5. When I was coaching, I had the picture in mind. I saw entire schools and experienced the school culture as an outsider. As a teacher, I see the world through my myopic, albeit accurate, lens of my classroom. 
  6. When I coached, I could refine lessons by teaching them in different classrooms with different variables. When I'm teaching, I don't have that chance at refining what I'm doing.
  7. When I coached, I was a visitor in someone else's space. I had little control over classroom culture and climate. If a kid misbehaved, it didn't feel personal. When I'm teaching, I'm part of a community. 
  8. When I was a coach, I couldn't see the difference I was making. I knew that coaches mattered, but any influence I had was twice removed from the actual students. As a teacher, I am reminded of the power of education and my role within it.
  9. When I was coaching, I was well aware of my strengths. I put on a robe of false humility and self-deprecation, but I didn't see my faults as easily. As a teacher, I am much more aware of my limitations and mistakes. 
  10. When I was coaching, I thought about the teacher in terms of planning, instructing and assessing. When I am teaching, I'm reminded of all the other things we are asked to do, from picture day to the stack of forms to the bullying we report to the meetings we attend. 


John Spencer is a teacher, author, speaker, and incessant doodler.
He is the co-author of Wendell the World's Worst Wizard
and the co-founder of Write About .

Share this post Share to Facebook Share to Twitter Email This Pin This