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Choosing wisely from your toolkit . . . you were never meant to only have a hammer 

You know that saying, 

'To a man with a hammer, everything looks like a nail' - Abraham Maslow

This quote refers to an over-reliance on a preferred or favorite tool.

I was working with a group of leaders and instructional coaches and a theme for the team was the discomfort they felt with an evaluative framework they were charged with using with teachers.  

Now, in this particular school system, instructional coaches also evaluate.  There are different philosophies about if coaches can be evaluators but the approach I take is that I believe in supporting instructional coaches with all aspects of their role.  It would be unhelpful of me to ignore their evaluation duties.

What I noticed is the framework they were trained on felt more to them like a grenade in their toolkit, not a benign screwdriver, or even a hammer.

As a result, they were upset, resistant, and even shameful about this one tool.  And, as far as I could tell, being upset and resistant was keeping them from doing their best work of helping teachers learn and grow.

It also showed me a common way of thinking we can all fall into.  

This team thought that the tool was more powerful than the carpenter.

I am well versed in the possible objections to this statement.  People fear for their jobs, they are fearful about low ratings and poor evaluations.  

Part of our job as coach is to listen to these fears.  Our job, after validating the feeling, is to help put them in perspective.  What do scores and evaluation numbers or rankings mean?  How many teachers annually don’t maintain their jobs as a result of poor evaluations?  What support is put in place if there is a bad score?

Oftentimes, jumping to “I’m being fired!” is a response we can help a person we coach to unpack and analyze.  


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