/  By  / 

Coaching so far: Way easier, not as fulfilling

favicon People have been asking: “So how’s your new job?”

I like it. I get to work with teachers and talk about reading all the time. Plus, there’s no anxiety on Sunday nights. Or papers to grade. Or parent phone calls to make. And I can go to the bathroom whenever I want.

But so far, coaching is not nearly as fulfilling as teaching. Whereas teaching is too much and too fast, coaching has been too little and too slow.

A quick comparison:

Teaching: 5-15 minutes of free time per day
Coaching: 60-90 minutes of free time per day

Teaching: 100+ human contacts per day
Coaching: 5-10 human contacts per day

Teaching: 1-2 hours of anxious feelings per day
Coaching: 1-2 minutes of anxious feelings per day

Teaching: 60 hours of work per week
Coaching: 40 hours of work per week

Teaching: 2-5% chance that something crazy will happen at any moment
Coaching: 0% chance that something crazy will happen at any moment

So what do you think? The comparison makes it seem like coaching is the better gig, right? For this year, the answer is definitely yes. I needed a slower pace so that I can pause for a bit and focus on where this reading thing will take me.

But there’s a simultaneous empty feeling. After 15 years, I miss the classroom, and I miss the students, and I miss the directness-of-purpose that teaching affords.

It’s been just three weeks, and I’m sure that coaching will pick up. But I’m afraid that it won’t be “enough.” The problem is, Full-time teaching is “too much.” favicon


  1. Beth Silbergeld

    I think that your experience of coaching is similar to what mine was, although parking took up 30-60 mins of my days. Teaching adults is also slower and more difficult to see results, as you may notice soon. The shift will allow you to take better care of yourself, but it is not as joyful. I guess it is all about balance.

    • Lisa Gallien

      Hi Mark,

      I am finding that a combo of teaching and coaching is really nice. I am 20% in classrooms, observing teachers and giving classroom management feedback (5 periods/week) and teaching three classes. I have more bathroom flexibility and less stress! also, remember that all change is hard, even change you choose. You are wonderful!

  2. Lois

    Well said. I had the same thing. There’s juust nothing like the family you get to create while teaching. You heave to remember that new teachers are just ” hanging on” and in the beginning don’t have the capacity to take in all that you have to offer! It’s really not until year 3 that they can really absorb and be ready to branch out!

  3. Mark Isero

    Great comments, everyone. Thank you for them. The change is substantial — some good, some only OK. It’s weird to focus on a passion (i.e., how to teach reading) but then not be able to try on what I’m learning (i.e., directly teaching students). That’s why I’m encouraging the teachers to let me do some demo lessons, too.

    One of my favorite parts of this new job so far, though, is recognizing that I do have something to say about how to teach reading. The schools are eager to grow but haven’t yet thought about what it takes to do a whole-school reading initiative (specifically around independent reading). So the capacity building thing is fun.

Please share your brilliant insights!