Mr.Mielke’s New Role


Morgan Hendershott

Chase Mielke got a new job this year. Last year Mielke taught English, Psychology, and Positive Psychology to his students. This year he is a Secondary Instructional Coach; he helps teachers instead of students with what they do. 

New jobs create different atmospheres, for Mielke not being able to mentor kids has been the hardest part of his new career.

“I knew I would miss students when I changed roles, but I didn’t realize how much! I’m still finding ways to connect with kids, but it’s weird not having a class of students. I’m sure someday I’ll teach kids again,” he said.

Mielke likes to try new things, explaining that trying new things is always very beneficial.

“I don’t like feeling stagnant – and trying things gives me a chance to learn and grow in new ways. Over the past few years, the focus of my work has shifted to trying to help other teachers, since teaching is really hard work. I’ve always loved conversations on the “art and science” of teaching well, so the chance of doing it full-time felt like the right move.”

It might seem weird to be coaching people that you used to work alongside, but for Mielke, it isn’t at all.

“Some people think that “coaching” means bossing people around or telling them what to do (which would be weird with colleagues). But that’s not what effective coaching is. It’s having conversations with teachers to figure out what they want to improve and how I can help.

Mielke said he considers his role more of a support – offering time, resources, and feedback.

“Mr. Mielke now fills the position of district instructional coach. This position allows him to work directly with teachers and principals to explore the best learning and teaching strategies, particularly for new teachers that we hire, said Superintendent Matt Montagne.

“He has extensive expertise and training in the most up-to-date research-based practices for teaching and learning, classroom management, and student/staff wellness. He is a hugely valuable resource for our teaching staff, principals, and through his work with them, our students as well,” Montagne continued.

“I actually feel fortunate to be doing this in a school I’ve been at for 13 years rather than a place where I haven’t built relationships and friendships with other teachers,” Mielke said.

There’s no denying, though, that his old job and new job are very different.

“I don’t plan lessons or teach large groups. I meet with teachers one-on-one most days and talk to them about what they’re working on. I observe and record lessons and then watch them back with teachers. I also have the freedom to set my own schedule – which I love. So, if there is an area where I know teachers need more support (e.g resources for virtual teaching) I can dedicate time to it. Or, if a teacher messages me needing support for something, I don’t have to wait until the end of the day or get a sub. Ultimately, I’d love to see more teachers in this role – my dream would be for Plainwell to have coaches for every content area,”

 Nick Richardson works as an English teacher in Mielke’s old department and took over several of his classes.

 He dismisses the idea of it being weird now that Mielke’s now like a coach to him.

“Mr. Mielke was always my mentor, so that hasn’t really changed. That being said, he’s a weird dude already. You can quote me on that.”

Despite that, Richardson thinks Mielke is super helpful

“He provides a lot of really useful feedback and tech tips. I go to him all the time for help.”

Richardson loves taking on Mielke’s old classes, such as Positive Psychology.

“It’s exciting being able to put my own spin on them. But he also designed them pretty well.”

Richardson thinks their friendship is the same even though they aren’t coworkers anymore.

“He was my mentor before and continues to be my mentor now,” he said.