Pennsylvania Institute for Instructional Coaching — A Partnership Between the Annenberg Foundation and the Pennsylvania Department of Education
Coaching Tip of the Month
June 2014 PDF Print E-mail

Coaches are not experts… so what does that mean? If coaches are not experts, what is the perception of their skill set?

This is a very good question and one that has raised many an eyebrow… after all, why would I ask someone for advice if I didn’t think that the person to whom I directed my question was either an expert or very experienced in the content I needed?

May 2014 PDF Print E-mail

In the December 2013 issue of JSD, authors Victoria Duff and M. René Islas’ article “Partners in Learning”  talk about how the new teacher evaluation process demands a growing emphasis on effective teaching and teacher professional growth. It makes sense… the greater the emphasis on promoting professional learning, the greater the impact on teaching and learning. So, the more teachers are engaged in high quality, relevant professional development, the better the chance that the professional development leads to professional learning that transforms their teaching. And, of course, that professional development must effectively address the needs of the students so that the teaching transformation effectively reaches all teachers and the students they teach.

April 2014 PDF Print E-mail

Coaching is confidential… or is it? Instructional coaching needs to be confidential and non-evaluative. In some places, the coaches, teachers, and administrators must be reminded that the relationship between a coach and teacher is built on trust and confidence; what is discussed remains private. Without the security of knowing that conversations are not shared, a strong relationship cannot be established and teachers will not choose to work with a coach. Teachers are more likely to talk about addressing problems of practice, trying innovative ideas, and strengthening their professional needs if they think their innermost thoughts remain behind closed doors.

March 2014 PDF Print E-mail

There are many characteristics that effective coaches must possess. When asked for my top three, I include these: 1) the coach must be able to develop, nourish, and maintain relationships with both teachers and administrators; 2) the coach must have content knowledge in some area of expertise; and 3) the coach must be a life-long learner. Yes, a coach must have effective communication skills, must understand the internal workings of a school, must be a team player, and must be responsive to the needs of others without pride of ownership. An effective coach must also know what effective classrooms look like, how to get there, and how to help when the journey is a bit bumpy. An effective coach needs to recognize when his/her efforts are not yielding the positive results that are the desired outcomes for a specific conversation or series of conversations about change and know what to do to bring about the necessary change in direction. An effective coach does not let ego get in the way.

February 2014 PDF Print E-mail

“Although change is unpredictable, you can set up conditions that help to guide the process” says Michael Fullan. That’s exactly what instructional coaches do in schools… they guide the process that helps create and sustain change.

Instructional coaches can create just the right amount of disruption and discomfort in schools to get the ball moving in the right direction. However, this is a messy and disorderly process. It doesn’t necessarily follow a lock-step method guaranteeing that each step flows smoothly into the next. If you think that instructional coaching comes with a “how to” manual… think again! The best I can offer is the notion that working together in a team provides opportunities for collective problem solving after identifying some issues that need to be addressed in school.