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

My goal is simple. I want to make something each day. Sometimes I make things. Sometimes I make a difference. On a good day, I get to do both.

More about John

5 responses

  1. Thanks for sharing this. I love how you honestly share good and bad things about how you approach learning in both of these positions. If only we all both of these experiences to be able to try to bring the best of each to our classrooms.

  2. I think your ten differences were amazing many teachers feel that to show there flaws make them less of a teacher which isn't true (9). The fact that you brought differences out of two of the rivals in many schools is very insightful, I have seen and heard first hand statements like, " what makes that coach think he can teach a class, and why does that teacher think that she/he is so great let’s see if they can coach my team”, which I believe in some forms are commonly said in every school system. Even though the truth being that both teacher and coaches can learn from each other and that’s what I got out of your post. That difference don’t always have to be a bad thing and can be learned from, Thanks for sharing.

  3. Thank you very much for this post. I'm a full-time coach this year for the first time (after teaching and teaching/coaching for a while). My first impressions are similar to yours, but you expressed them clearly and vividly. I think I'll likely come back to this post as I figure out my way.

  4. Mr John Spencer,
    Im a student from the University of South Alabama, and I am studing Elementary Education because I enjoy children. I really enjoyed reading the 10 differences between Teaching and Coaching. They are different in many ways as you know. I do believe that teachers are part of the community and learn their background and try to help them all ways as possible. Coachs do on the other hand have the same effect on childrens lives like a teacher, but in your post you explained it very clear. You expressed they are different but in a good way, and this could help teachers and coachs know their role in the community.

    Hillary Hamlin

  5. Great post ! Thanks a lot ! I feel the same way but struggle to explain it in words sometimes. You were able to do that !

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