As the nation faces a looming teacher shortage, one of the most powerful tools we have for retaining teachers is coaching. Every district around the nation employs coaching models. But are they effective?

We asked this question two years ago after years of coaching teachers at both the school and district level. After analyzing our impact, we realized our return on investment was not as large as we needed or wanted. Several things emerged from this self-reflection, and with a few corrections we are seeing positive results.

1. Effective coaching includes everyone

Several years ago, we moved from a model of coaching struggling and first year teachers to a model that focuses on all teachers. After all, football coaches don’t focus solely on the struggling players. They focus their efforts on building the team to make sure everyone performs at their highest potential. We have found that successful teachers are more eager for coaching because they always want to be the best possible for their students.

See how Greenville County Schools improved the way it coaches teachers

2. Effective coaching must be differentiated

Teachers fall on a continuum of ability, skill, and will. Each one demands a different approach to coaching in order to get the best results. We use the skill/will matrix highlighted in Max Landsberg’s book, The Tao of Coaching. Administrative teams help identify where teachers fall so that district- and school-level coaches know best how to approach the coaching.

About the Author:

Jeff McCoy is the associate superintendent for academics in Greenville County Schools, South Carolina. Greenville County Schools is the largest district in the state with more than 76,000 students.


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