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Make Coaching Connections

by Diana Benner and Miguel Guhlin

Do you know how popular instructional coaching jobs are? It was the most often job posted on TASAnet’s website. Of the 2,491 jobs posted in July, 2019, coaching accounted for 195 positions. That’s about eight percent of all jobs available in Texas public schools and charters. Why so popular? Let’s revisit a few facts about coaching, as well as discuss a few resources.

The Facts about Coaching

The facts about coaching are making their way into the educational community. Without fancy graphs or charts, you’ll want to pay close attention to the research.

This summer, thousands will take part in hundreds of hours of professional learning. Only twenty percent of those thousands of educators will transfer a new skill. That’s right, of the educators who get training, only a few will change their practice. Even if schools assign principals to offer feedback on lessons, it is an impossible task. Principal feedback is ineffective when sporadic and inconsistent. What’s more, it has the stigma of a job appraisal. Feedback offered in this way can create negative effects at a high rate (38%).

What’s more effective? You guessed it! Coaching. As shown in the chart below, eighty to ninety percent of those teachers will apply learning from a workshop in a classroom (source: Joyce and Showers, 1995).



Now that you know the effectiveness of each approach above, take a moment to reflect. How many professional learning sessions did you attend at the start of the year? Of those, how many stopped short of coaching? What’s more, consider how important the other components are in support of coaching.  Many “trainers” do well with theory, demos, practice, and training. They often don’t do feedback or coaching. Practicing new skills isn’t often done either.

Coaching: Interpersonal Relationships

Thinking about going into coaching? The most important component is, hands-down, building a strong relationship. This reflects the data and trends in my blog entry, Embrace Lifelong Learning, or Else. The 2022 Skills Outlook from the Future of Jobs Report 2018 highlights the following:

  • Emotional intelligence. It is the capacity to be aware of, control, and express one’s emotions and includes the ability to handle interpersonal relationships. You must achieve this in a judicious and empathetic way. Some call emotional intelligence “EQ” or “interpersonal skills.”
  • Leadership and social influence. The ability to maximize the efforts of others towards the achievement of a goal. It stems from your social influence (source).

Emotional intelligence is often included in the catch-all term “soft skills.” Soft skills reflect how you work, communicate, and problem solve as a part of a team. Interpersonal skills play a key role in this. Once you see the ubiquity of relationships, everything fades in significance.

Back to School Coaching Resources

As the new year starts, you’ll want to be aware of the following resources. Let’s take a look.

coaching connections

Resource #1 – Future Ready Instructional Coaches Framework

The Future Ready Instructional Coaches provides instructional coaches with research-based strategies. What’s more, you get protocols and resources that you can use to be more effective. Here are some places to look:

Get connected to other coaches and begin your learning journey.

Resource #2 – Videos to Watch

It may be a truism, but coaching trumps professional development. Now you know the research shows how ineffective “theory, demonstration, and training” are. Those beautiful materials you prepared? Worthless without feedback, practice, and most important of all, coaching. Check out these two videos on coaching:

Resource #3 – Collegial Coaching

Have you heard of collegial coaching? I discussed it in another blog entry, Coaching Made Less Difficult. Dr. Dawn Wilson and Dr. Katie Alaniz do a nice job of distilling instructional coaching wisdom. They are, of course, relying on Jim Knight’s work. But they are making connections for educational technology. Be sure to explore their resources featured in the blog entry above.

“Coaching means side-by-side planning and working together with the same end goal in mind – Learning!-Dr. Dawn Wilson (@drdkwilson)

coaching connections

Listen to the Podcast | Access Book Info

And don’t forget to review their coaching model.

Resource #4 – Adopt a Growth Mindset

Close your eyes. Take a moment to slow down and take a deep breath. Now ask yourself, how are you changing what you say to support growth mindset thinking? You will first need to adopt a growth mindset for yourself, and encourage others to adopt it as well. Consider the diagram below:

coaching connections

In a fixed mindset, people believe their basic qualities are fixed traits. They spend their time documenting their intelligence or talent instead of developing them. They also believe that talent alone creates success—without effort. They’re wrong.

In a growth mindset, people believe that their most basic abilities can be developed. This can be achieved through dedication and hard work—brains and talent are just the starting point. This view creates a love of learning and a resilience that is essential for great accomplishment.

All great people have had these qualities.

Source: Mindsets

Why do this? Teaching mindsets (e.g. fixed vs growth) enhances relationships. And what’s the most important aspect of coaching? That’s right…relationships and trust.

Image Source: Adapted from Killion, J., & Harrison, C. (2017). Taking the Lead:
New Roles for Teachers and School-Based Coaches, second edition. Oxford, OH: Learning Forward.

Resource #5 – Coaching Tools

Want some coaching tools? You may need an overview of coach roles and help on allocating time. You may need a weekly lesson planning template. Be sure to check out these tools shared via Tools for Learning special issue.

Ready to make some coaching connections? Be sure to get connected to other coaches. Build your own coaching PLN via Twitter and social media. The sooner you find your tribe, the better off you will be.

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