A successful coaching program can have an extraordinarily positive impact on teachers, students, and schools. A recent national survey of educators showed that most districts agree — 75 percent see the connection between coaching, teacher growth, and student achievement.
Here are 6 key elements of successful coaching programs that can serve as a roadmap for building and sustaining a successful instructional coaching program.
1. Create a strong vision for the coaching program
The most effective coaching programs are the ones in which the leaders are intentional about building and designing them with teacher support and student outcomes in mind. As a district, ensure that there are conversations about the ultimate goals of the program. What will look and feel different in a school that has a coaching program? What are the resources needed to invest in the program? What is the timeline for implementation? How will you measure coaching work to make sure the program is meeting your objectives?
2. Get the right people in the right roles
People are the key factor in any successful coaching program. Selecting the right people as coaches is very important in creating credibility, particularly with other teachers. When selecting coaches for your program, district leaders need to determine the process for selection as well as who will be involved in that process. What role will the district play? The school? How will you ensure the program is inclusive of diverse backgrounds and perspectives?
3. Foster a positive, reflective learning environment that keeps equity at the forefront
At its core, coaching is about equity — it improves teaching practice for all students which in turn improves student outcomes. When building a coaching program, equity should be at the forefront in terms of the initiatives that are chosen, the coaching application process, and outreach to potential candidates, just to name a few.
4. Be clear about the processes and structures for implementation
In order for a coach and therefore a coaching program to be successful, the expectations for the coach have to be clear: Who are they coaching? What is the coaching schedule? What is the process to debrief the visits? Establishing these processes up front will help boost efficiency and effectiveness.
5. Communicate frequently with all stakeholders
To ensure all stakeholders are clear on expectations and implementation timelines, frequent communication is key. This could take the form of weekly emails, an online coaching and communication platform, or regular newsletters. You can use these frequent communications to highlight best practices and spotlight coaches doing great work in your schools.
6. Measure the right things and adjust as needed
To ensure a coaching program is producing the intended results, districts need to constantly collect and evaluate data. In the TeachBoost 2022 Coaching Impact Report, which was compiled from a survey of education leaders from districts around the country, only 21 percent of respondents say they always use data to drive coaching decisions, and 57 percent say they often use data but would like to have more. Once you collect timely and relevant data on your coaching program, you’re able to make changes so that it is positioned to achieve the intended results—this may mean more time for observations or feedback, more focus on specific district priorities, better/clearer communication, or better alignment of how coaches are prioritizing their time.
Research has shown that when coaching is done right, it works to help support teachers and students, and build stronger districts. District leaders can maximize the potential of a coaching program by following a few key steps to improve educator effectiveness and job satisfaction so that they can help their students achieve their full potential.
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