Instructional coaching positions in schools doubled from 2000 to 2015 (Galey). School systems have continued to hire instructional coaches for multiple purposes. Although instructional coaching programs may have first begun with a focus on inexperienced teachers, it has grown to include all levels of experience and expertise. It does not matter how much experience a person has, they can always benefit from a thinking partner. Instructional coaches should support teachers not only in their teaching practices, but also their classroom management, professional goals, and abilities to lead grade-level teams. Aguilar (2008) stated that “coaching is not something we do to another; it is not a process that is engaged in only by the client. It is a complex dynamic engaged in by both client and coach (p. 29).” Coaching is about growing strengths and weaknesses while also empowering teachers to be the key decision-maker in their own growth.
If instructional coaches are helping teachers, how do they get coached themselves? How do you get better at coaching if you are the only instructional coach in the school?
Collective Teacher Efficacy (CTE) has been researched in education for a number of years and is defined as, “The collective perception that teachers in a given school make an educational difference to their students over and above the educational impact of their homes and communities” (Tschannen-Moran and Barr, 2004, p. 190). CTE focuses on teachers and groups of teachers but does not specifically address coaching or coaches.
Similar to CTE, we propose a Coaching Feedback Model that could increase Collective Coaching Efficacy (CCE). We define Collective Coaching Efficacy as the perception that a group of coaches collaboratively participating in Coaching Feedback Cycles will positively impact teachers and students by growing in coaching practices.
Introduction to Collective Coaching Efficacy Process
Collective Coaching Efficacy relies on a group of people who share a common purpose to improve instruction through Coaching Feedback Cycles. The feedback cycles are conducted with coaches from different schools who then take their learning back to their own schools, apply their learning, and then identify future areas of growth with the team. The four action steps for Coaching Feedback Cycles are shown in Figure 1 and are outlined below.
As you listen carefully, make sure that you are documenting this information in a platform that you will visit often. Some people are dedicated to using OneNote and Word, but there are many other methods, such as the video coaching platform, ENGAGE Feedback from Teaching Channel.
#1. Collaborative Walkthroughs
The first action step to increase Collective Coaching Efficacy is to conduct Collaborative Walkthroughs. In this step, a team of coaches referred to as the Coaching Feedback Team, will work together to conduct a 20-minute classroom walkthrough. The group then collaborates to plan feedback that will be provided to the coachee. The team should be made up of three to four instructional coaches, each from different schools. Prior to the collaborative walkthroughs, the hosting coach should have a trusting relationship with the classroom teacher as it can be intimidating having a group of people observing a lesson. After the observation, the Coaching Feedback Team will meet in a private room to discuss the bright spots and possible next steps. The hosting coach may practice giving feedback in front of the team to simulate a mastery experience.
#2. One-on-One Coaching Conversations
Within a day of the team leaving, the coach should schedule a one-on-one coaching session with the teacher observed in the walkthrough. During this meeting, the coach will provide dialogical feedback acting as a thinking partner. As a result of participating in the collaborative walkthroughs with the Coaching Feedback Team and knowing the teachers’ goals, the coach will be prepared to provide specific and meaningful feedback. Reflective questioning and active listening are required to ensure the conversation stays focused on the goals of the teacher. To ensure Collective Coaching Efficacy can be continued, this coaching session should be recorded.
#3. Video Reflection
The third action step requires the coach to reflect independently on the recording of the one-on-one coaching conversation. This can be done through a video coaching platform, such as Insight ADVANCE. While watching the video, the coach should track the amount of questions asked versus statements expressed. After watching the video, the coach should reflect, asking questions such as:
- Which parts of the coaching conversation were successful?
- What were missed opportunities?
- What would you have done differently during the conversation knowing the missed opportunities?
- How did you support the coachee’s strengths and weaknesses?
- Were there any directive coaching moments? Was it necessary at that moment?
- What are your next steps?
In addition to asking such questions, the coach can reflect on their own coaching by completing a self-assessment to track coaching skills that have the greatest impact on students and schools, such as the one shared in Appendix 4 of Evaluating Instructional Coaching: People, Programs, and Partnerships (Thomas et al., 2021).
#4. Coaching Feedback Teams
The next action step in building Collective Coaching Efficacy is to bring the Coaching Feedback Team back together, however, this time at a different school. At this meeting, the coaches will view the video of the one-on-one coaching session. After viewing the video, the coaching feedback team will provide feedback based upon the reflection questions, as well as name takeaways from the conversation. As a result, every coach is increasing their coaching effectiveness through sharing thoughts, challenging assumptions, and identifying habits of coaching, thus raising Collective Coaching Efficacy.
When this conversation is complete, the team will then start the process over with a different teacher at the new school. The process can be cycled through again and again. The Collective Coaching Efficacy directly impacts and empowers coaches, teachers, and students.
“Given what coaches do and what makes up a well-lived life, it is clear that almost everything a coach does touches some important part of a meaningful life.” (Knight, p. 194).
Aguilar, E. (2013). The art of coaching: Effective strategies for school transformation. Jossey-Bass.
Brennan, D. (2008). Coaching in the US: Trends and challenges. An International Journal of Theory, Research and Practice, 1(2), 186-191, DOI: 10.1080/17521880802346238.
Eckstrom, B. & Wirth, S. (2019). The coaching effect: What great leaders do to increase sales, enhance performance, and sustain growth. Greenleaf Book Group Press.
IBIS World. (2022, June 23). Business coaching in the US. https://www.ibisworld.com/industry-statistics/market-size/business-coaching-united-states/
Knight, J. (2022). The definitive guide to instructional coaching: Seven factors for success. ASCD.
Thomas, S., Knight, J., Hoffman, A., & Harris, M. (2021). Evaluating instructional coaching: People, programs, and partnership. ASCD.