Pennsylvania Institute for Instructional Coaching — A Partnership Between the Annenberg Foundation and the Pennsylvania Department of Education
Coaching Tip of the Month
September 2017 PDF Print E-mail

Welcome back! As we greet the 2017 school year, the stressful fiscal conditions continue to exist statewide which certainly influences our local decisions. Schools are facing cuts in budgets which have a damaging impact on personnel, programs, and resources. Despite this, the determination and dedication of instructional coaches to change the landscape of teaching and learning continue to be the priority across all content areas even in the face of these financial struggles.

So, what does that mean? These challenging times may result in either part-time coaching or only time after school to work with teachers. This is less than ideal and will surely create anxiety for the entire school community. If this is the situation in your school/district, you must think “out of the box” and work with what you have and know.

June 2017 PDF Print E-mail

Strengthening, supporting, and maintaining a collaborative environment in schools is critical for school improvement. As the school year ends, some of our coaches are moving forward in their practice and transitioning to the classroom. Their role as a teacher leader will certainly change. What will not change, however, is the commitment and dedication to pursue their work in school transformation, promote teacher professional development, and continue to provide opportunities to improve practice and redefine the title of “coach.”

This is tricky business. Does coaching from the classroom provide another opportunity to support colleagues in financially stressed times or give policy makers the excuse that we can do more with less? I don’t know the answer but I do know that we must continue to create an evidentiary trail that makes the association between improved student achievement and coached teachers. In fact, one of our recent studies, March 2017 Teacher Follow-Up Survey Report documented that 89% of teachers surveyed indicated that their classroom practice changed as a result of working with a PIIC instructional coach. (Click here for report.)

May 2017 PDF Print E-mail

"Management is efficiency in climbing the ladder of success; leadership determines whether the ladder is leaning against the right wall” (Stephen R. Covey). As coaches, you are both manager and leader as your work with your colleagues to help build teacher capacity and increase student engagement. How you do that determines when you are a manager and when you are a leader.

We often share what we think are characteristics of an effective coach: one who demonstrates valuable listening and communication skills; is respectful; understands the art of questioning; is skilled and knowledgeable; supports literacy across all content areas; recognizes how adults learn and builds those relationships; understands data collection, analysis, and application; and practices reflection and self-assessment. Where do we mention effective management and leadership skills? Both of these competences need to be part of the coach’s repertoire of skills.

April 2017 PDF Print E-mail

Words are tricky. They convey tone, mood, and attitude. And, once written or spoken aloud, they cannot be taken back!

We all know the adage, “Sticks and stones will break our bones but names will never hurt us.” True or false? I say, “False.” Many a time, words become the daggers that evoke responses that might not be the intended outcome. On the other hand, sometimes we want our words to provoke action. If that’s the case, we must be ready for the consequences of our words.

Coaches need to know the appropriate ways to engage in meaningful conversations with their teaching colleagues. Words and body language send quite a message and sometimes, they are misconstrued. Remember, perception is reality. How someone perceives the intent may create a lasting impression and may not be so easy to alter.

March 2017 PDF Print E-mail

In the July/August 2016 Vol 60, No 1 Journal of Adolescent & Adult Literacy, a team of authors write about the responsibility of literacy educators to work with content area teachers to implement what they call, content area literacy (CAL) instruction in classrooms. But content area literacy cannot be the only priority… learning certainly is important but the learning cannot be passive. Knowing how to engage students is critical for the content area literacy to have meaning.