Do you know what kind of coaching support your school needs?

Jim Knight has spent close to two decades studying instructional coaching. The research identified seven factors that need to be in place for coaches to succeed.  A short conversation about these factors can help identify the best kind of learning for any organization. This Comprehensive Professional Learning Assessment of Need (CPLAN), will present a visual depiction of the current state of the professional learning around Coaching in your district.

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* 1.  Coaching Cycle.

Within an effective coaching process, coaches help teachers identify a student-focused goal, identify a high-yield teaching practice to be implemented to hit the goal, and help teachers implement the practice and make adjustments until the goal is met.  If teachers aren’t setting student-focused goals, there is a real danger that no significant improvement will occur.

Our coaches have a deep understanding of an instructional coaching cycle they can follow to ensure that real, significant improvement occurs in teachers’ classrooms.

Why? Coaches usually understand the cycle if all the teachers they collaborate with are setting and hitting goals.  If not, they probably need professional development.

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* 2. Teaching Practices.

Since instructional coaching is designed to help teachers improve student outcomes by implementing new teaching practices, coaches need to really know the practices they share with teachers. 

Our coaches have a deep understanding of an instructional model that contains teaching practices they can share with teachers to help them hit goals.

Why? Coaches usually have a deep understanding of their teaching practices if they have a single page that identifies the most high-impact strategies they share, and if they have and can explain checklists that describe each teaching practice on the list.

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* 3. Gathering Data.

Instructional coaches set student-focused goals with teachers and monitor progress toward those goals.  For that reason, coaches need to understand how to gather student behavior, achievement, and attitudinal goals, like time on task, authentic engagement, non-instructional time, ratio of interaction, type/kind/level of questions, etc.

Our coaches are highly skilled at gathering student behavior, achievement, or attitudinal goals.

Why? Coaching is all about hitting a goal, and we gather data to know whether or not we have hit the goal.

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* 4. Understanding Adults.

If coaches don’t have an understanding of how adults learn, no matter how much they know about teaching, they will encounter a lot of resistance.

Our coaches are aware of the complexities of helping adult professionals.

Why? Coaches are usually adept at working with adults when they do not encounter much resistance.  If coaches are struggling to find teachers who are interested in coaching, there is a chance they need to learn about the complexities of helping adults.

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* 5.  Communication Skills.

Good coaches must be excellent communicators since coaching is communicating.  Specifically, good coaches ask good questions, listen effectively, find common ground, build strong, trusting relationships, and share positive comments and hard truths effectively.

Our coaches are extremely effective communicators.

Why? As with understanding adults, coaches do not encounter much resistance when they are excellent communicators.

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* 6. Leadership Skills.

The most effective coaches are both ambitious for student improvement and deeply responsive to teachers. Both skills are essential. An ambitious coach who lacks responsiveness will create resistance and a responsive coach who lacks ambition will not get enough teachers on board.

Our coaches are effective leaders.

Why? Coaches who are skillful leaders are able to work with, and help, a large number of teachers.

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* 7. System Support.

 When principals do not effectively support coaches, coaches will struggle to succeed.  Principals therefore need to have some understanding of all of the factors listed above so they can create conditions that will lead to coaching success.  Additionally, coaches need to be coached, of course, so a process needs to be in place for coaching coaches.

Our coaches have the support from leadership to succeed.

Why? When principals are supporting coaches and coaches are effectively coached, coaches are successful, and both coach and principal see that success.

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* Where do you need support?
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