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What is instructional coaching?
What is instructional coaching?
Leslie Ellis
Friday, September 14, 2018

I was at a local coffee shop over the summer with my family, and while we waited on our meal, I looked over their bulletin board. Lost dog posters and service flyers populated the wall. As I perused, I noticed a pull-tab service flyer for a life coach. It advertised one-on-one sessions to improve self-confidence, assertiveness, and organization. You can find a coach for nearly every aspect of your personal and professional life. Teaching is no exception.

Instructional coaches support classroom teachers to increase student achievement. This can happen in a variety of ways. Generally speaking, coaches visit classrooms to gather observation data. Then, the coach and teacher meet to review observation notes and determine what Jim Knight calls the “current reality” in the classroom. This is an opportunity for the teacher to see what is really happening with student learning and establish a student-centered goal. The coach facilitates this process for the teacher, providing support and resources as needed. After this initial feedback session, the teacher and coach decide what teaching strategies to implement in the classroom to reach the determined goal. The coach works alongside the teacher to provide support by modeling, co-teaching, or arranging for the teacher to observe others who already implement the teaching strategy. Then, the teacher begins practicing the strategy in the classroom, and the coach continues to observe and support as necessary. During the implementation phase, the coach and teacher will meet to analyze student data to determine if the strategy is effective and modify the plan if needed.

The coaching sessions should be comfortable for the teacher, and the cycles should increase their effectiveness and confidence in the classroom. When teachers feel confident and explore research-based teaching methods, their students reap the benefits. And that’s what coaching is about: supporting and working alongside teachers to improve student learning. Everyone deserves the support of a coach to help bring out their best. Teachers take a great deal of pride in their work, and they deserve a colleague who will collaborate with them and support them in succeeding in the classroom.


For more information about coaching from the experts…

The Instructional Coaching Group

Jim’s Knight’s Radical Learners Blog

Diane Sweeney’s Student-Centered Coaching Blog

Jane Kise’s Differentiated Coaching Blog

Elena Aguilar’s Bright Morning Blog