How to Build an Instructional Coaching Program for Maximum Capacity


Nina Jones Morel & Carla Staton Cushman

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  • Dedication

    We would like to dedicate this book in memory and honor of our first coaches, our parents—

    Dr. and Mrs. Franklin B. Jones

    Dr. and Mrs. Fred G. Staton

    The gift of their enduring love and support is immeasurable.


    View Copyright Page


    A few years ago, Carla Cushman and Nina Morel called to tell me they had been charged with designing and implementing an instructional coaching program in Tennessee's Sumner County schools. I was delighted, as I first met these school leaders during a training session I held on instructional coaching at a Reading Summit in Tennessee. Carla and Nina were new to coaching then and purchased my book Quality Teaching in a Culture of Coaching®.

    Early in our subsequent conversation, Carla and Nina asked me to recommend a book that would guide them through the actual process of creating such a program, from the envisioning stage to designing to planning. They wanted to gain ideas about the appropriate professional training that might be required and how to launch and implement the program. In my Quality Teaching in a Culture of Coaching® book, I stress the value and importance of creating a coaching culture in schools, but I had to be honest with them—I did not know of a book that specifically guided the process of creating and implementing a program within a school jurisdiction.

    So they decided to write the book themselves, even though, as they both admitted, they did not have a lot of direct experience with coaching prior to receiving their assignment. That changed quickly as they delved into research and the study of coaching skills and strategies. They flew out to Salem, Oregon, where I was holding a weeklong instructional coaching training and interviewed me and others on the process. Bringing what they learned back to Tennessee, they practiced in the roles of coach and coachee. Nina and Carla became immersed in coaching as they shadowed other coaches, teachers, and administrators, testing theories and gleaning ideas from their experiences as well as creating ideas of their own.

    Their book is a culmination of this knowledge and practice of instructional coaching along with their own now more substantial experiences within the world of coaching. Carla and Nina guide the reader through the process of creating an effective instructional coaching program and touch on all the aspects in a step-by-step, chapter-by-chapter approach while weaving a delightful metaphor of navigating a ship through waters rough and calm.

    The book will find its way to central office and building administrators looking to start or refine a coaching program. School board members and others studying school leadership will achieve great insights not only into creating a viable coaching plan but also in learning a model that offers ways to improve their existing programs. The authors’ efforts and research underscore their point that they are promoting not just a coaching program but an overall culture of collaboration and professional learning. Central to the theme embedded within the process is the importance of teachers moving from isolation to collaboration, with principals and instructional coaches supporting them along the way.

    As we pointed out in Instructional Coaching With the End in Mind: Using Backwards Planning to Increase Student Achievement, teaching is a complex profession, compounded by the day. Time and again, research has borne out the tremendous value of coaching. It offers support and refines teaching methods that enhance teaching and student learning alike. An instructional coach performs a balanced act between principal and teacher. A skilled instructional coach can spell the difference between an enthusiastic faculty with proactive professional development programs and engaged student population and those schools or districts that scramble to keep up with teaching mandates and parent demands.

    In this book, Carla and Nina sketch out a navigational guide for a journey toward an effective instructional coaching program. It is not necessarily a destination. As the authors point out, just as the use of cell phones has become a part of our way of life, coaching in many districts has become an integral part of their culture. At the same time, coaching may not change a culture so much as the culture influences the coaching program, so that instructional coaches become quasisupervisors or assistant principals. Each school, each district, each teacher, principal, and instructional coach will encounter different successes and challenges. The thrust, however, is to change the tradition of teaching in isolation to one of collaboration and teamwork, sharing and transparency, where the engagement of students always remains the end goal.

    This is a significant book that provides guidance in the aspects of instructional coaching programs. It describes methods to present the concept, create or elicit the vision; it outlines characteristics to look for when hiring an instructional coach; the importance of communicating to stakeholders; how to enroll and gain buy-in from principals; what training and support are needed; and what to do with resistance and challenges—what they cleverly refer to as “squalls.”

    Chapter 7 in particular provides motivation and answers the unasked questions about who gets coached first and why, how the process works and in what environment, and how to tell the story that drives the desire to take the risks and reap the rewards of a coaching culture destined to improve and augment the value of teachers, coaches, principals, and students alike.

    In the event readers are not sure where to begin their journeys, a Facilitator's Guide to follow or adapt as desired provides a real “anchor” for this navigational guide.

    Carla and Nina do not have all the answers for you. But they do have the questions that will lead you to design an instructional coaching program of your own. Just as an effective instructional coach develops a teacher's capacity to reflect and create and experiment in an ongoing continuous improvement cycle, so too does How to Build an Instructional Coaching Program for Maximum Capacity coach you on a journey to create a program with stellar results.

    Thank you, Carla and Nina, for your remarkable contribution to building a culture of coaching.

    Stephen G.Barkley, Executive Vice President Performance Learning Systems, Inc., Author, Quality Teaching in a Culture of Coaching® and Instructional Coaching With the End in Mind: Using Backwards Planning to Increase Student Achievement


    The authors wish to acknowledge their friends and colleagues in Sumner County, Tennessee, who contributed their wisdom, patience, energy, and heart in pursuit of the development of an exemplary instructional coaching program. We especially wish to acknowledge the vision of Judy Wheeler, who gave us the opportunity to embark on this voyage. Thank you to all the coaches who have shown us what it means to exhibit arête. We also owe a debt of gratitude to Stephen Barkley, coach of coaches, who coached us as fledgling coaching champions. Thank you to our students over the last 25 years, because we have learned more from them than they could possibly have learned from us.

    Most of all, however, we appreciate our husbands, who have never doubted us, and our children and grandchildren, who keep teaching us about the important things in life.

    Publisher's Acknowledgments

    Corwin gratefully acknowledges the contributions of the following reviewers:

    • Kathy Cheval, Mathematics Specialist
    • Salem Keizer Public Schools
    • Salem, OR
    • Gail A. Epps, Program Manager
    • New Teacher Induction, Montgomery County Public Schools
    • Rockville, MD
    • Gregory MacDougall, Specialist
    • S2MART Centers
    • Aiken, SC
    • Patricia Mathues, Supervisor of Elementary Language Arts
    • Souderton Area School District
    • Souderton, PA
    • Rob Moyer, Professional Development Coordinator and Teacher
    • Perkiomen Valley School District
    • Collegeville, PA
    • Vanessa Nieto-Gomez, Training and Professional Development Administrator
    • Houston Independent School District
    • Houston, TX
    • Fernando Nunez, Director of Professional Development
    • Isaac School District #5
    • Phoenix, AZ
    • Rena M. Rockwell, Director of Professional Development
    • Ritenour School District
    • St. Louis, MO
    • Debi Rozeski, Coordinator of Professional Development
    • Moreno Valley Unified School District
    • Moreno Valley, CA
    • Lloyd Sain, Director, Leadership and Secondary Teacher Development
    • Little Rock School District
    • Little Rock, AR
    • Elizabeth Sandall, Staff Development Content Specialist for Middle School Instruction
    • Montgomery County Public Schools
    • Rockville, MD
    • Bradley Schleder, District Academic Coach, Science
    • Kings Canyon Unified School District
    • Reedley, CA
    • Lewis E. Stonaker, Jr., Staff Development Coordinator/Educational Consultant
    • Monroe Township Public Schools/Personalized Professional Development, LLC
    • Robbinsville, NJ
    • Deb Wallace, Instructional Specialist and Professional Developer
    • iCoaching Team
    • S2TEM Centers
    • Clemson, SC

    About the Authors

    Nina Jones Morel, EdD, is an associate professor of education and director of master's programs at Lipscomb University in Nashville, Tennessee. She was a 2005 winner of the Milken Foundation National Educator Award and has taught at the middle, high school, undergraduate, and graduate levels. She has served as a school district administrator and a coaching champion. She is married and has three adult children and two stepchildren.

    Carla Staton Cushman, EdS, is the director of the Sumner County Teacher Center in Gallatin, Tennessee, and a coaching champion. She began her career in education as an elementary teacher and has served as a middle school assistant principal and principal. She is currently a doctoral candidate at Union University in Hendersonville, Tennessee. Carla is married and has two adult children and four grandchildren.

  • Resources

    Chapter 2 Resources
    Sample BookReviewChart

    A chart such as the one on page 129 can be created and shared in Google Docs to keep up with your research team's reading and can also be used by coaches. Knowing who has read what saves time, and notations for future use are helpful.

    Sample Planning Benchmarks

    The following is an example of an initial planning document a coaching program planning team might create to set short-term and long-term expectations.

    Focus of the Program

    The teacher has the greatest impact on student learning. Instructional coaching has the potential to make good teachers great and great teachers even better!

    Long-Term Expectations: End of Year 2

    Coaching is job-embedded professional learning. We want to build capacity within our schools so that our teachers will have a vision of how to continue growing a collaborative culture beyond the coaching experience.

    Long-Term Expectations: End of Year 1

    The instructional coaching program should be a seamless, smooth-running machine in which principals, teachers, and coaches work together to affect student achievement in a positive way.

    Short-Term Expectations: End of First Quarter
    • “Go slow to go fast.” We want big results in a short amount of time. The adage “go slow to go fast” must be kept in mind, or we will roll right over the teachers.
    • The coaching champions will lay the groundwork for coaches to begin working with teachers in their assigned schools.
    • “Go slow to go fast” with principals, too. Meet with the principal, articulate vision for coaching as principal articulates vision for his or her school; develop a plan for the coach to meet the staff; set a few short-term goals with the principal.
    • Prepare coaches to interact with a range of perspectives and practices that are already in existence in their assigned schools. The coaches needs to orient themselves to the schools’ cultures to know how to best begin initiating support within the classrooms.
    Sample Coach/Principal Goals Form
    This Form Can Be Used to Articulate Goals in Initial Meetings of Principals, Champions, and Coaches

    School Year: _________________

    Name of School: _________________

    Goals communicated by the principal:

    Goals set by the instructional coach:

    Goals set by the content area coach:

    Chapter 3 Resources
    Sample Coaching Presentation Form

    Coaches may be asked to document presentations to school faculties using this form.

    Name of coach presenter:_________________

    Location of presentation:_________________

    Date of presentation:___ Start time:___ End time:___

    TOPIC of presentation:_________________

    Approximate number of participants:_________________

    (Attach sign-in sheet if available.)

    CIRCLE participants’ primary roles:

    Sample Expected Coaching Focus

    This form, based on Killion and Harrison (2006), can be used to guide coaches as they focus their work.

    Fifty percent to 60% of coaching time should be spent on the following (deep) activities:*

    • Pre-/postconferences
    • Observations
    • Coplanning lessons
    • Coteaching lessons
    • Data dialogues (analyzing, interpreting, discussing, informing decisions)
    • Lesson study
    • Modeling

    Other coaching activities may include:

    • District initiatives conversations
    • Celebrations
    • Conferences with administrators
    • Coordinating with other coaches
    • Personal professional development
    • Professional development for staff
    • Record keeping/logs
    • Release time for peer teacher observations
    • Resource and research assistance
    • Team/department meetings

    District initiatives (list your district initiatives here):

    Sample Coaching Purchase Request Form

    This form can be used to gather information to plan a coaching program budget.

    School Year: _________________

    This form is for budget planning purposes only. Please fill out a separate form for each item/service/professional learning/session. Consider all aspects of our program.

    Person(s) making request: _________________

    I need this for (check one or more):

    Detailed description of item/service requested

    How would this improve instruction for students?

    How does this support the district or coaching mission/vision?

    Approximate date needed:_________________________

    Approximate expense (if known):_________________________

    On a scale of 1 to 10, how needed is this item/service/session/professional learning?___

    Please attach any supporting documentation (website, catalog page, research abstract, etc.).

    Sample Recordkeeping Procedures

    The following is a list of recordkeeping procedures for coaches.

    Daily log and itinerary:

    • You will submit your daily log for the current week and itinerary for the following week on FRIDAY (or the last day) of each week.
    • PLEASE submit electronically.
    • Please keep a copy for yourself for your “e-portfolio.”

    Monthly reports:

    • These are due the last school day of each month.
    • Two forms will be turned in: one for each of your schools that lists all the teachers at that school, and one that is a summary of the totals for each school of each of the eight specific coaching activities we are following.
    • You will record the code number (1–8) in the cell corresponding to the DATES that each of the eight specific coaching activities occurred with that teacher. If you work with a group, please put the code next to each teacher you work with. (Sign-in sheets to Professional Learning Communities [PLCs] are helpful for this purpose and for documentation.)
    • A key at the bottom of the coaching activity spreadsheet will help you remember which of the eight codes to use. It is also at the top of the monthly summary sheet.
    • At the end of the month, tally all of your numbers and put them on the summary sheet by school. Attach the summary sheet to the top of the spreadsheets and turn in.
    Coaching Interaction Chart

    Using the key below, code the type of coaching interaction in the appropriate box.

    Sample Log and Itinerary

    This itinerary and log is used for coaches to keep up with their daily interactions and appointments and can be kept and shared electronically.

    Sample Records Communication

    This letter can be used to explain the recordkeeping process to coaches.


    Thanks so much for getting all your records in on time and in good order!

    Now that you are all getting the hang of keeping these records, we wanted to remind you of their purpose.

    First, you are all professionals, and we trust you to make professional choices as to how you use your time. We don't look at any logs to make judgments about you or how you are performing your job. It is just one piece of data, and we are looking at the big picture.

    Second, we KNOW that not everything you do can be put into a neat category.

    The coaching activities spreadsheet that you will turn in tomorrow is designed by date so YOU can look at who you are working with and look for patterns in your coaching interactions. Determine for yourself if you may be spending too much energy with one group or teacher, and then you can make your own choices (with your principal) as to how to proceed. We will not tell you to spend more or less time with someone.

    We also use the Coaching Interaction form to keep very basic records about how many interactions and how many teachers are involved in the coaching program—it is quantitative, not qualitative data. We will be looking at group, not individual, data, so don't worry about comparing yourself to anyone else (we don't!). You may work with only one teacher one week, and that could be as valuable as someone else working with 10—YOU make that call, in collaboration with your principal.

    We can help talk through these decisions as much as you want us too, but you know the situation better than we do … If you are struggling at a specific school, go back and look at your data there … is there something you could tweak that might make it more effective? Is there a pocket of teachers that you just can't seem to connect with? Can you pick out a person from that group that might help you be accepted by others?

    The data part of that form is NOT for us to decide if you are working enough hours! It is NOT a timesheet!! You do NOT need to have 37.5 hours on that form, because some things can't be logged. There is no place for routine administrative tasks such as setting appointments, for example. We want you to use the form to see if you are working toward a goal of 50% to 60% of your time in the seven deep coaching activities. We don't expect you to be there yet, and we don't want you to compare yourself to others. Everyone has a different situation. Knowing that you need to spend most of your time on these activities will hopefully keep you from getting overwhelmed with requests for noncoaching duties at your schools.

    We will use the data form to look at growth of the program over time—how many hours were spent on the seven deep coaching activities in year one and how many hours in year two, for example. It will let us know if we are on target as a group (not individuals). We will also look at how much time is spent on different district initiatives so we can see if we need to shift our emphasis!

    Sample E-Portfolio Directions

    You may wish your coaches to keep a portfolio of their work. This is an example. Several open-source platforms (Mahara and Moodle) and others (Taskstream, LiveText) will allow you to create online portfolios that are file cabinets for all kinds of information and can be mined for data.


    • Provide an opportunity for you to reflect on your year of coaching and identify goals for next year.
    • Document coaching activities for accountability purposes.
    • Share ideas and practices with each other.

    Please maintain confidentiality in your reflections. This journal is for sharing!

    The coaching portfolio will include the following folders:

    • All daily logs and itineraries, including Individual Coaching Activities forms and one-on-one coaching and conversation monthly reports.
    • Reflection journaling from at least one experience per month that was meaningful to you. This should be information that resulted in identification of strengths, challenges, ah-has, or celebrations.
    • Presentation form for each professional development workshop you facilitated. (You may include a video summary of the workshop if you wish.)
    • A list of each professional development workshop you attended, including conferences. (You may include your notes here if you wish.)
    • Presentation PowerPoints, outlines, handouts used in workshops or teacher meetings.
    • Your original model lessons or coteaching lessons.
    • Photos of special projects you worked on.
    • Copies of newsletters you prepared for your teachers or principals.
    • Celebrations! (notes, photos, etc.)
    Sample Coach Evaluation Artifacts

    Every learning organization has different evaluation processes for coaches. The following is one example.

    Evaluation of Coaches: Overview

    The following components will be in your comprehensive evaluation experience:

    • Monthly coaching data summary
    • Survey of your principals
    • Survey of your teachers
    • E-portfolio of activities
    • Two observations of your work, including the following state evaluation components:
      • ○ Self-assessment
      • ○ Lesson plan for a workshop, PLC, lesson study, or teacher meeting
      • ○ Pre-/postobservation conference reflection
      • ○ Summative evaluation and professional growth plan

    Your coaching champion will conduct the observations of your workshop, PLC, lesson study session, or teacher meeting and reflect with you after they are completed. We will create a future growth plan together after a summative reflection and celebration meeting.

    Chapter 4 Resources
    Sample Content-Specific Job Description

    This job description can used to post coaching positions.

    Job title: Instructional Coach, ____ emphasis

    Supervisor: Director of Instruction

    Immediate supervisor: Instructional Coaching Facilitator

    Objective: To support the district's _____ teachers in the implementation of research-based strategies and curricula by demonstrating and supporting exemplary instructional practices.

    Duties and Responsibilities

    Work with teachers individually, in collaborative teams, and/or with departments, providing practical support on a full range of instructional strategies.

    Provide ongoing support to ____ teachers in the implementation of best practices in the areas of ____ in order to support the key concepts of the discipline. Support explicit instruction of key academic vocabulary in ____ and support literacy development required to do well on ____ concepts.

    Demonstrate and model exemplary instructional practices and research-based strategies for ____ teachers.

    Assist teachers in reviewing student assessment data; determining appropriate interventions, modifications, and scaffolded instruction for students; and guiding teachers as needed in organizing for instruction and integrating research-based practices in the classroom.

    Share best instructional practices in the teaching of _____ with teachers, administrators, and others supporting math instruction in the classroom.

    Help select appropriate curriculum materials for the classroom.

    Provide direction in and demonstration of classroom-management strategies as needed.

    Collaborate with the special education and English Language Learner teachers in implementation of appropriate interventions and modifications in the regular education classroom.

    Participate in professional development activities by attending ____ and instructional coaching workshops and conferences, reading current research and professional literature, and disseminating information gathered as a result of these activities.

    Assist in providing professional development opportunities for teachers and support staff in the areas of math, literacy, vocabulary instruction, assessment, differentiation, and RTI. Provide follow-up for teachers who have participated in professional learning activities to ensure skills are implemented in the classroom.

    Model technology integration into the teaching of ____.

    Maintain a daily log of activities and keep up-to-date program records.

    Coordinate activities with systemwide instructional personnel.

    Review and interpret system- and school-level formative and summative assessment data to identify trends and needs in math and literacy.

    Job Requirements

    Five or more years successful experience in classroom teaching in the subject area(s) and grade groups for which he or she will serve as instructional coach.

    Demonstrated experience in presentation of professional development to teachers and a deep understanding of the issues involved in working with adult learners.

    Experience in school-based instructional leadership.

    Experience and knowledge in the interpretation of formative and summative assessment data.

    Demonstrated competence using varied technologies to support student learning.

    Knowledge and experience in differentiated brain-based instructional practices.

    A master's degree in education or related field.

    Excellent interpersonal skills. Ability to work collaboratively with teachers, administrators, and other school personnel.

    Sample Reference Form

    This form can be used to gather reference information for coaching applicants.

    Applicant Name: _______________

    Your Name: _______ Position: _______

    Situation in which you worked with the applicant (circle one or more):

    To the Recommender: Please rank the applicant in the following areas based on your personal observations and interactions with the applicant.

    Sample Interview Rubric

    Chapter 4 provides some sample questions in these areas, but this form can be used with any questions you devise that help you assess the imperative qualities of coaches.

    Chapter 5 Resources
    Sample Orientation for Instructional Coaching

    This is an example of communication with principals concerning their role in orienting new coaches to their roles.

    Principals' Role

    Acknowledging the role of the principal as key to the success of any instructional coaching program, we invite you to participate in the orientation process for new coaches in the following ways:

    • Participate in the Principals’ and Coaches’ Joint Kick-Off Breakfast.
    • Identify a space in your building to house your instructional coach 1 to 2 days per week. Have this space move-in ready by ___ (suggest teacher's desk or table, chair, electrical outlets, and trash can).
    • Prepare a list of maven teachers for your instructional coach to observe during his/her first week in your school. (High school principals should identify all department chairpersons as well.) Inform these maven teachers of the coach's upcoming visit and tell them why they were selected.
    • Be available to meet with the coach facilitator and your instructional coach in a brief (10 minutes or less) meeting structured around the following questions:
      • ○ If you went into a classroom, what would you see that would help you predict that the kids will be successful?
      • ○ What district initiatives are most widely implemented in your school? (List your district initiatives here.)
      • ○ In general, what should the focus of classroom visits and professional conversations between your instructional coach and your teachers be? (List some suggestions that are relevant to your district here.)
      • ○ How can your instructional coach best assist your school in achieving your school-improvement goals?
    • Welcome and introduce your instructional coach to your staff and encourage teachers to invite the coach to their classrooms.
    Chapter 6 Resources
    Sample Welcome Letter to Newly Hired Coaches

    This letter can be used to welcome newly hired coaches to your district.


    Dear Coaches:

    We are excited to welcome new___coaches to our team as we begin year two of our coaching initiative! Our new coaches are: ___. The strengths and experiences these men and women will share with their colleagues are sure to have a far-reaching effect on teacher collegiality and student achievement in the area of ______.

    Please review the schedule of meetings below. Do not hesitate to contact either of us if you have any questions or concerns regarding our fall plans.

    • Orientation Meetings Prior to_____ School Year:(Insert your plans here.)
    • Coach-Coordinator (SÍ C-C) Meeting Schedule:(Insert your plans here.)
    • Friday Focus Meeting Schedule:(Insert your plans here.)
    • Other districtwide learning opportunities:(Insert your plans here.)

    As you can see, we will hit the ground running even before the official start of school. This year promises to be another exciting adventure as we work together to build collaborative coaching cultures in our schools. We both look forward to working with each of you.

    Enjoy the next few weeks!

    Your Coaching Champions

    Chapter 8 Resources

    All of the following activities are useful in ongoing training for coaches.

    Sample Culture of Coaching Activity

    Group Brainstorm

    What does a school that has a fully developed culture of coaching look and sound like?

    Group Brainstorm

    What coaching activities best support the development of a culture of coaching in a school?

    Independent Reflection

    Review your past week's coaching activities, conversations, and roles. Write your response to the following essential question:

    How can I take my activities, conversations, and roles and transform them into action that promotes a culture of coaching in the schools in which I serve?

    Sample Gripes-to-Goals Activity

    Directions: Working in groups of three, coaches will discuss the two questions below. Jot down your thoughts and ideas. Be prepared to share in large group.

    Possible hindrances to full implementation of the coaching program:

    Ways to break the chains that prevent full implementation of the coaching program:

    Sample Peer Coaching Assignment
    Mission Possible: Coach the Coach

    Your mission, should you choose to accept it:

    Draw a name from the “coaching hat” of another coach. (If you draw your close friend or your current coaching partner, put the name back and draw someone you know less well.)

    During the next 4 weeks, schedule a time to coach a teacher at one of your schools—it can be a new person or someone you have worked with before. Have a preconference, videotaped 15- to 20-minute observation, and postconference with that person. (Tell the teacher this is for your growth more than his or hers!!)

    Schedule your “Coach-Coach” to observe and videotape your pre- and postconferences. At the postconference, review the video with the teacher while your coach is videoing you watching the video with the teacher!! (Wheels in wheels).

    Schedule your own postconference with your Coach-Coach. Let your coach practice coaching you in the postconference about the postconference.

    Be prepared to share your coach-coaching experience with small groups during a Friday Focus (date to be announced).

    Sample Coach—Coach Support
    Guided Questions for Group Discussion

    Sample Individual Reflection
    Consulting My Own Compass

    Based on the results of your peer coaching conversation, brainstorm a list for each category below:

    My strengths as a coach:

    Opportunities for my growth:

    Action steps I need to take:

    My ahas:

    What I appreciate about the peer coaching experience:

    Sample “Consulting the Compass” Activity
    Control Sphere of Influence NoMB!

    Independent Reflection

    Give each coach 10 index cards. Direct them to write one thing on each card that is currently causing them angst. Some people will use all 10 cards (and may want more!), while others may only need less than five. Participants may use as few as 1, but not more than 10 cards. Remember: One issue per card.

    Leaders: You might want to play a recording of Patsy Cline's “Crazy” (1961) in the background while coaches are writing.


    When participants have finished writing on their index cards, leaders should initiate a discussion of those things that we, as individuals, can control, what falls into our sphere of influence, and what is really none of our business (NoMB!).

    Following this discussion, have coaches sort their cards into three stacks: Control—Sphere of Influence—NoMB!

    When they have finished sorting their cards, direct participants to do the following:

    • Tear up all of the cards in you NoMB! stack.
    • Place all of the cards in your Control stack in the Let It Go! box.
    • Keep the cards in your Sphere of Influence stack and take time during the next week to discuss with your coaching partner or your facilitator ways you can transform these crazies into action that will promote a culture of coaching in the schools you serve.
    Sample Imagine Activity

    Leaders: Occasionally, instructional coaches will encounter situations with teachers, supervisors, and fellow coaches that cause them to feel uncertain as to how to respond. Many times, such situations don't come with a single right answer, but they usually come with several acceptable ones. The Imagine Activity is designed to give your instructional coaches an opportunity to put themselves face to face with uncomfortable or even difficult situations and practice generating appropriate responses.

    Introduction to the Activity: Play an excerpt from John Lennon's “Imagine” (1971) as you provide the background for this activity.

    Directions: Cut apart the 10 different Imagine Scenarios. Divide your coaches into groups of two or three. Give each person in the group a different scenario. Each person in the group will read his or her scenario, and then the group will decide how to role play an appropriate response. Groups will need about 10 or 15 minutes to read their scenarios and plan their role play. Once groups have had time to read and prepare, ask volunteers to share with the large group.

    To wrap up this activity, ask coaches to regroup to form pairs who will participate in a 3-minute standing conversation about how this activity will affect their responses to uncomfortable situations in the future.

    Imagine. … Imagine. … Imagine. … Imagine. … Imagine. …

    Sample Imagine Scenarios

    Imagine: A teacher, an administrator, or a central office person has made a decision with which you disagree. Someone comes to you, verbalizing an opinion similar to yours. What do you do to resist the temptation to engage in a gripe session? What are some examples of responses you could make that are professionally neutral? Why is remaining professionally neutral important—or is it?

    Imagine: You have been asked by someone in your school to make a decision that has the potential for a more far-reaching impact that puts you slightly out of your comfort zone. How do you determine whether to make the decision on your own or to seek input from an administrator (principal, coach facilitator, coordinator, etc.)?

    Imagine: You have just returned from one of the best professional learning events you've attended in a long time. You are eager to implement some of the new ideas you brought back to your schools. You want to make sure you have the approval you need to bring these ideas to life. What sorts of questions do you ask yourself to determine your first line of contact in the organizational chart in seeking that approval?

    Imagine: A teacher comes to you and wants information that he mistakenly assumes you have. What kinds of questions do you ask yourself in deciding where to turn to get that information?

    Imagine: You are entering a new social or professional situation. There are appearances, but there are also realities of which you may not be aware (norms, conflicts, histories, etc.). Realizing that you can't immediately discern these often subtle realities, how would you conduct your professional interactions with others in this setting?

    Imagine: You and a group of colleagues are sharing a relaxing dinner at a local restaurant. All are talking and laughing, sharing stories about themselves and their families and friends. Suddenly, the conversation turns to school. Give specific examples of how you would put a fast end to the topic of school before someone has a chance to breach confidentiality in this casual, public setting.

    Imagine: You and your buddy coach are sharing about your coaching experiences. How do you decide which coaching experiences are off-limits and which ones are not?

    Imagine: You are in a staff meeting with your colleagues and supervisors. You notice that someone in the group is using body language that clearly communicates her disinterest and/or displeasure with the meeting—rolling eyes, whispering, e-mailing, texting, and so forth. You want to say something to your colleague about professionalism, but you're not sure what or how to say it. What might be the best way to handle this situation for all involved?

    Imagine: As an instructional coach in at least two different schools, you have the opportunity to see and hear many things. Some things you see would make you proud as a peacock, but you have encountered a situation that makes you want to put your head in the sand. What kinds of things rise to the level that someone in higher authority needs to know about it?

    To whom do you turn for guidance if you aren't sure?

    Imagine: You have been asked by an administrator (principal, coaching facilitator, coordinator, director) to provide information about someone's job performance. What is your best coaching response?

    Imagine. … Imagine. … Imagine. … Imagine. … Imagine. …

    Sample Friday Focus


    Use this form to communicate agenda items for our Friday meetings. Agenda items must be submitted to your coaching facilitator by noon on Thursday.




    Worth Sharing:



    *50% to 60% equals 3.5 or more hours per day.

    *When presenting concerns, coaches are encouraged to have at least one suggested solution to present as well.


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    Facilitator's Guide to How to Build an Instructional Coaching Program for Maximum Capacity: For Use with Study Groups or Professional Learning Communities

    The purpose of this facilitator's guide is to assist the reader in preparing to lead a professional development series or to facilitate a professional learning community (PLC) focused study, allowing facilitators to actively engage participants in interesting yet easy-to-implement learning opportunities.

    Each chapter guide begins with The Music and The Metaphor. We learned from Quantum Learning© the importance of incorporating music and metaphors into our teaching to promote interest, connections, and long-term memory and retention. The music and metaphors we have chosen are simply suggestions. The facilitator is free to substitute music and metaphors that best suit each unique audience. You may choose to have the music playing in the background as participants enter and use it to segue to your first activity, or you may incorporate the music into a particular activity. In addition, we have attempted to provide ample activities to use with each chapter and set no expectation that all activities must be completed or that they can only be completed in the order in which we present them here. The facilitator is encouraged to select the activities in each chapter that are most appropriate for the groups, schedules, and locations with which you will work.

    Chapter 1Prevailing Winds: Navigating the Perfect Storm
    • The Music “Blowin’ in the Wind” by Bob Dylan (1962)
    • The Metaphor Prevailing winds are powerful and affect the climate of a geographical area. Other winds may blow this way and that, but the prevailing winds are the ones you can count on over the long haul. The current research on educational reform affects the climate of classrooms, schools, and school districts, but political wind blow strongly, too. Savvy leaders pay attention to the prevailing conditions as they make decisions and prepare for unexpected storms.
    Suggested Activities
    • Ask participants to listen to an excerpt of Bob Dylan's “Blowin’ in the Wind” (1962). After listening, have them jot down images that came to mind as they heard the song. Allow time for participants to Turn to Your Neighbor and share with an elbow partner.
    • Read aloud the metaphor for Chapter 1. Invite discussion about the changes that your school or district is experiencing. How are teachers and administrators in your district responding to these changes—what feelings are evoked by the changes?
    • Introduce the topic of implementing an instructional coaching program as a change initiative. Quickly survey the group to determine individual and collective knowledge and experience with instructional coaching and with leading change.
    • Depending on the size of the group, distribute one or two brief articles about instructional coaching and leading change. Divide the group into two groups (or four, if you have a large group). Give one group a copy of the instructional coaching article and one group a copy of the leading change article. Tell each group they will have several minutes to silently read their article. As they read, they should underline important facts, put a question mark (?) next to things that are unclear, place an exclamation mark (!) next to ideas with which they agree, draw an “X” next to statements with which they disagree, and put a star (*) beside “ahas” they discover. When they finish reading, each group should discuss the article in light of their markings and identify one person from the group to summarize in the large group. (This activity may be modified and used as an outside assignment if your group meets on a regular basis.)
    • If your group meets on a regular basis, select one of the books below and facilitate a book study. Or, you might choose to select a book and assign each participant or pairs of participants to read a different chapter and make a presentation to the group.
    • The authors identify five rational reasons for implementing an instructional coaching program in your school or district:
      • Student achievement is the goal.
      • Research shows that more effective teachers lead to greater student achievement.
      • Research shows that skilled teacher-centered instructional coaching leads to more effective teaching.
      • Research shows that coaching leads to far greater implementation of strategies learned in professional development.
      • Research shows that teachers reap many additional professional benefits from coaching.

      Write the five rational reasons for implementing an instructional coaching program in large letters on separate pieces of chart paper. Divide the group into five smaller groups (or fewer, if your group is small). Give each group one of the rational reasons chart papers. Ask each group to list the coaching connections to their rational reason. In other words, how does instructional coaching connect to improving student achievement? List some ideas. After each group has had a few minutes to generate and write their ideas, post the charts around the room. Ask participants to conduct a gallery walk around the room, adding one new idea to each chart. Review the lists and summarize the activity.

    • The authors point out some of the emotional benefits of coaching and emphasize the importance of helping teachers embrace coaching on an emotional level. Discuss the importance of making an emotional connection in regard to coaching. What are the benefits? Are there any drawbacks? If so, what are they?

    In business, students are taught to create an “elevator pitch”—a way to sell yourself or your product in the time it takes to go up in an elevator with someone. In this activity, groups, pairs or individuals may use the material in the chapter or additional resources to create a brief pitch for instructional coaching in your school or district. Teams may demonstrate their pitch through role-play in front of the group.

    To organize our thoughts while writing this book, the authors chose a metaphor of a sea voyage. Develop your own metaphor to describe your experience with implementing an instructional coaching initiative so far. First, list the salient characteristics of your experience. Then, identify another experience that has similar characteristics. Describe your metaphor in words or in pictures.

    Chapter 2Dead Reckoning: Beginning with the End in Mind
    • The Music: “Simplify” by Gary Hoey (2010)
    • The Metaphor: In Walden, Henry David Thoreau (2011) writes, In the midst of this chopping sea of civilized life, such are the clouds and storms and quicksands and thousand-and-one items to be allowed for, that a man has to live, if he would not founder and go to the bottom and not make his port at all, by dead reckoning, and he must be a great calculator indeed who succeeds. Simplify, simplify. (p. 89)
    Suggested Activities
    • Letting go of certainty can be a daunting yet necessary step in the change process, as the authors discuss in Chapter 2. Ask participants to reflect on a time in their lives when they let go of certainty. One or two volunteers may share their stories with the large group. Probing questions might include:
      • Was there a single, memorable moment that served as the impetus for letting go? If so, can you tell us about it?
      • Once you let go, what kept you moving toward the change?
      • What advice would you give to our group as we work toward facilitating a change initiative in our organization?
    • The authors state that “dead reckoning is not dead certainty” (page 14). Discuss this statement with an “elbow partner.”
    • Post your school's or district's vision statement for everyone in the group to view. Engage participants in a round table discussion of what the vision means to them, their assessment of how “on track” your organization is in moving toward your vision, any evidence they have to support their perceptions, and what changes they believe need to occur to either refine or rewrite your vision statement (or what changes they believe need to occur to get the organization back on track to moving toward your vision).
    • Distribute copies of the illustration from page 16 (concentric circles of vision that all share the same center). Discuss the illustration using your district vision, school vision, and your vision for coaching. Emphasize the point that the coaching vision is embedded in the district's vision in this illustration. Determine whether your coaching vision is embedded in your district's broader vision.
    • Discuss the following questions about professional development in your district. Be sure to ask for specific evidence to support the group's responses:
      • Does our current professional development model encourage and foster the use of professional learning communities?
      • Does our current professional development model support adult learning and collaboration by providing our teachers and administrators the knowledge and skills needed to collaborate?
      • Is our current professional development model designed to incorporate a variety of adult learning strategies?
      • Does our current professional development model include job-embedded learning opportunities?
      • Most importantly, does our current professional development model support and align with our student achievement goals?
    • Refer to the opening metaphor for this chapter. Thoreau tells us to “simplify, simplify.” Amazingly, to live the simple life, you must live the carefully navigated life. A school or district is no different. Discuss the connection between a simple plan and a detailed, thorough plan.
    • In the Middle Ages, knights fought for their honor in a field (campus, in Latin) so they came to be called campions or fighters in the field. The term has evolved to champion and is often used to refer to a winner of a contest. A champion can also mean a person who is an advocate for an idea or cause. Why might coaching need a “fighter in the field” in your school or district? What kind of person would make a good champion for coaching?
    • Brainstorm a list of coaching champions in your district who should be part of your planning team. Does your list include stakeholders from the district, school, and classroom levels? What role will each member play in the planning process?
    • Use the following questions from the administrative model discussed in this chapter:
      • What are the specific goals of your coaching program?
      • What is the role of a coach in your program?
      • Will the coaches work for one school or for the district? If the district, how many schools will they serve?
      • Who will supervise the coaches and who will participate in hiring?
      • How will the coaches be matched with schools?
      • Who will champion the coaches?
      • What rules and regulations will affect the hiring, placement, evaluation, and tenure of coaches?
      • How will district–coach and principal–coach communication occur?
      • With whom will the coaches work within the school?
      • How long will the coaches serve in their positions?
      • What are the district policies and parameters for coaches?
    • The authors identify some potential “squalls” or problems that may arise as you begin to implement your coaching program. What potential squalls might you anticipate in your district? What plans can you make now to avert these squalls?
    Chapter 3Sounding the Depths: Using Data for Reflecting, Refining, and Celebrating
    • The Music: “The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald” by Gordon Lightfoot (1976)
    • The Metaphor: The Edmund Fitzgerald sank in Lake Superior in 1975, but famous shipwrecks such as that one have been the subjects of ballads for centuries. In 1707, in what is considered to be one of the greatest naval disasters of all time, more than 1,400 sailors perished at the British Isles of Scilly, off the coast of Cornwall. Four ships of the British Fleet were lost, and although no one knows the exact death toll, bodies, personal effects, and the wreckage of the ships were washing up on the shore for days. It is believed that the sailors’ inability to correctly calculate their longitude—and thus know their position in relation to the rocks of Scilly—was the reason the fleet went off course and wrecked. Sailors realized their old methods of “dead reckoning” (calculating your position based on a previously determined position; see Chapter 2) were inadequate, and the search began for an alternative navigational tool. British Parliament passed the Longitude Act of 1714, which offered a large cash prize for anyone who could invent a device that would assist in calculating a ship's position. After many years and much trial and error, marine chronometers were finally invented that allowed sailors to calculate time while on ship. With this precise knowledge, mariners could calculate longitude and make an accurate reading of their current location.
    Suggested Activities
    • Listen to Gordon Lightfoot's recording of “The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald” (1976). Tell the story of the invention of marine chronometers. Generate a lighthearted discussion around any “shipwrecks” the group is familiar with in an educational setting. Ask, “What do we use for a chronometer in our work?”
    • Communicate the need for a navigation plan for your program. Based on an assignment developed by Susan Scott in her book, Fierce Conversations, write and practice a 30-second stump speech that explains “where we are going, why we are going there; who is going with us and how we will get there” (Scott, 2004, p. 81).
    • We learned from Killion and Harrison (2006) that expectations of any coaching program are at least twofold: We “expect to see increased academic performance and improved professional collaboration” (p. 141). Ask the group to identify the types of information you will need to assess whether you have met or exceeded your instructional coaching program goals.
    • Refer to your response to Activity 2. As you consider the different types of information you will need to measure success, identify the purpose of each.
    • Sort the results of Activity 3 into the following categories: Data to Evaluate the Coaching Program, Data to Evaluate Leaders of the Coaching Program, Data to Evaluate Coaches, Data to Monitor the Effectiveness of Individual Teacher–Coach Relationships. Discuss the following questions: What purposes are most important for your data-collection and -assessment plan? Which do you think will be the most difficult to achieve? How frequently will you need feedback in order to evaluate the program, the leaders, and the coaches?
    • Distribute copies of the data-collection forms included in the Chapter 3 Resources section of the book. Ask participants to examine the sample forms in light of their conclusions in Activities 2 through 4. How can any of the forms be adapted for use in your organization?
    • The authors refer to Killion's (2009) description of coaching shallow and coaching deep. What might each of these types of coaching look like in your organization? Are there times when coaching shallow is warranted? How will you and your coaches know it is time to move to “deep water’?
    • Provide a brief background on the 1960s television show Sea Hunt (Buxbaum, 1958–1961) and then play an excerpt of one of the shows you download from YouTube ( Using the “turn to your neighbor” strategy, ask participants to discuss with a partner the “treasures” and other “hidden things” that coaching might uncover in your organization? How will you leverage your findings for whole school or district improvement?
    • Display a poster-size copy or make individual copies of Pip Wilson's Blob Tree (n.d.), which you can purchase and download from If using a single poster, distribute sticky dots to participants and ask them to place their sticker on the blob tree to indicate where they are in their understanding of the process of building an instructional coaching program or in their understanding of their role in the coaching program. Allow time for all participants to explain why they identify with those particular “blobs.” If using individual copies of the tree, participants can circle the blobs with which they identify.
    • Brainstorm a list of things that are worth learning and need to be celebrated in your school or district. Every day for one week, celebrate in small ways something worth learning. Reflect on any changes you might see during this experiment and plan to report to the group.
    • Review the Steps to a Coaching Program Assessment Plan on page 47. As a group, assess your progress in accomplishing each step of the assessment-planning process. Discuss any refinements you may want to make and develop an action plan and timeline for making changes.
    Chapter 4Ready, Set, Sail: Selecting the Coaching Crew
    • The Music: “Son of a Son of a Sailor” by Jimmy Buffett (1978)
    • The Metaphor: Before the Seaman's Act of 1915, many sailors were “shanghaied” or conscripted to join the crew of a ship. “Boarding masters” were men who were paid by the body for merchant ship crews and frequently they resorted to tactics such as drugging and kidnapping men and forging their names to the ships’ articles. A man would wake up and find himself on a 9- to 12-month voyage! While some coaches (and administrators) may feel that this has happened to them when they find themselves awakened by ever-increasing responsibilities, conscription is no way to staff a school. When the school system “fleet” sets sail on a new school year, all the crew must be willing and ready for the challenge, but the coach, who is the model teacher, must be the right crewman for that vessel and that voyage. To modify a metaphor from the bestselling book Good to Great (Collins, 2001), the captain must get the wrong people off the ship, get the right people on the ship, and get everyone in the right places on the ship. This must be done intentionally and thoughtfully before you can even decide the path of the ship.
    Suggested Activities
    • Review several of the decisions you made earlier regarding the coach selection process:
      • The goals of your coaching program
      • The role of a coach in your coaching program
      • The number of schools each coach will serve
      • The coaching supervisor
      • The hiring committee
      • Matching the coaches to the schools they will serve
      • The coaching champion(s)
      • Policy and rules for hiring, placement, and evaluation of coaches

      Discuss the following questions: In what ways might your particular coaching goals impact the characteristics of the person(s) you hire for the job? Based on the decisions you have made so far, who should participate in the coach search/interview team? What are some ways the selection team can come to consensus on the roles and qualities of an instructional coach in our program?

    • Using your Coaching Administrative Model, create a 5- to 10-sentence paragraph describing your coaching program that you can use as a promotional literature piece.
    • Create a concept map of the perfect coach. In the center of the page, write the word coach, with the qualities discussed in the chapter all around. Think of other attributes of a great coach and add them to the map.

    • Examine the imperative qualities of coaches outlined below and try to reach consensus about what each looks like and sounds like to you and your organization's setting:

      A quality coach is …

      • visionary
      • courageous
      • a masterful teacher
      • balanced
      • treasured
      • a person of arête

      Create a “looks like/sounds like” chart similar to the one below for each of the IQCs.

    • Discuss the suggested questions for each imperative coaching quality outlined in Chapter 4 to determine which ones will be most applicable to your interview process. Generate your own questions for discovering the imperative qualities you seek in an instructional coach.

    Some questions that might reveal a visionary include the following:

    • Describe the mission and vision of your current school or district. How do you see your role in living out that mission in the organization?
    • Share your vision of the future of education.
    • How do your own personal values affect your role as a teacher leader?
    • Describe one of your most meaningful professional development experiences. How did it impact your practice? Why?

    Some questions that might reveal workplace courage include the following:

    • Describe a time when you were given a large and complex task to complete. How did you tackle it?
    • Describe the best supervisor you have had. What made him or her stand out from among the rest?
    • What kinds of management styles or techniques do you find empowering and exciting?
    • If you were given a large job with a short amount of time to complete it, would you prefer to work with a team or on your own? Why?
    • Have you been given a task and told to work with a group of adults who did not want to work with you? If so, what did you do to make sure the task was completed?

    Some questions that might reveal a masterful teacher include the following:

    • Describe a recent lesson you have taught. What were the students doing? What would you wish to improve next time?
    • Pretend I walked into your classroom unannounced on a Wednesday morning. What might I see? There are many different instructional models, from direct instruction to problem-based or inquiry learning. What are some different models you have used successfully in the classroom?
    • What do you do in your classroom to make sure you meet the needs of diverse learners?
    • If we asked you to teach a lesson on ___ to a group of students you did not know, what would you do to prepare? How would you approach the lesson?

    Some questions that might reveal balance include the following:

    • We all have challenges in balancing work and personal responsibilities. What are some ways you have handled these challenges in the past?
    • What are some ways that you use your personal experiences to enrich your professional life?
    • Coaching requires unpredictable hours and occasional travel. Can you envision yourself making the adjustment to a schedule that does not always conform to the school-year calendar?
    • Teaching and coaching require a lot of time-management skills. What methods do you use to keep on top of all the tasks that you must complete in your current job?
    • Describe a time when you have been under extreme professional or personal stress. What strategies did you use to respond to this challenge?

    Some questions that might reveal treasures include the following:

    • What do you think your most important contributions to your current school or district have been?
    • How would your current principal or supervisor describe you?
    • How would your colleagues describe you?
    • What would be the most difficult thing about leaving your current job?
    • What kind of contribution do you think you can make to our school or district?

    Some reference questions that might reveal this include the following:

    • When you were supervising (coach applicant's name), how would you describe your day-to-day working relationship?
    • If (coach applicant's name) decides to take another position, what will you or your organization miss the most?

    Some questions that might reveal arête include the following:

    • Tell me about something in which you believe passionately.
    • If you could change anything about education today, what would it be?
    • Describe your greatest strength and your greatest weakness.
    • If a student tells you about a serious problem he is having with another teacher, how would you handle it? Would you handle it differently if a colleague came to you with such a problem?
    • Think of the biggest professional challenge you have experienced. How did you handle it? Would you handle it differently if you had it to do over?

    6. View a short clip from the film Amazing Grace (2007). It is the story of William Wilberforce, a leader in the abolition of the slave trade. Wilberforce reshaped the political and moral attitudes of the 18th century. In addition to his tireless political work, he was generous with his time and money and known for his warmth and hospitality. Although Wilberforce became an outspoken proponent of the abolition of slavery, he did not take himself too seriously. His nature remained unchanged—he “remained outwardly cheerful, interested, and respectful, tactfully urging others towards his new faith” (Hague, 2007, pp. 99–102). Think of a historical or fictional character that is meaningful to you and who embodies the imperative qualities of coaches. Outline the person's character traits and relate them to traits you will look for in a coach.

    7. Read the poem If by Rudyard Kipling (1996). Assign one section to each member of your group. Identify how the qualities described in each section are important to a coach and create an interview or written-response question that might help you determine if an applicant might have that quality.

    • If you can keep your head when all about you
    • Are losing theirs and blaming it on you;
    • If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you
    • But make allowance for their doubting too:
    • If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
    • Or being lied about, don't deal in lies,
    • Or being hated don't give way to hating,
    • And yet don't look too good, nor talk too wise;
    • If you can dream—and not make dreams your master;
    • If you can think—and not make thoughts your aim,
    • If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
    • And treat those two imposters just the same:
    • If you can bear to hear the truth you've spoken
    • Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
    • Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
    • And stoop and build ‘em up with worn-out tools;
    • If you can make one heap of all your winnings
    • And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
    • And lose, and start again at your beginnings
    • And never breathe a word about your loss:
    • If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
    • To serve your turn long after they are gone,
    • And so hold on when there is nothing in you
    • Except the Will which says to them: “Hold on!”
    • If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
    • Or walk with Kings—nor lose the common touch,
    • If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
    • If all men count with you, but none too much:
    • If you can fill the unforgiving minute
    • With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,
    • Yours is the Earth and everything that's in it,
    • And—which is more—you'll be a Man, my son!
    —Rudyard Kipling (1996, pp. 96–97)
    Chapter 5O, Captain, My Captain: Preparing the Principal
    • The Music: “The Union” by Louis Gottschalk (1862)
    • The Metaphor:O Captain! My Captain!, the famous Walt Whitman poem (1865), was penned in tribute to the 16th president of the United States, Abraham Lincoln, and published following Lincoln's assassination: “O Captain! my Captain! our fearful trip is done; The ship has weather'd every rack, the prize we sought is won …” Even in the face of his leader's death, the poet's voice cries out to him, vulnerably exposing his need for his captain to rise up and witness their sail into the victor's port. Whitman's pleas not only underscore his unyielding reliance upon his leader, his captain; his impassioned pleas also underscore his unfaltering desire to share the victory celebration with his captain. In education, we, too, depend on strong and vital leaders—leaders who are equipped, prepared, and fully present in major and minor milestones and ultimate victories.
    Suggested Activities
    • Play an excerpt from “Union” by Gottschalk (1862) and relate the following background information: In a 2009 interview on NPR's Morning Edition, musical commentator Miles Hoffman offered his answer to the question, “If Abraham Lincoln had an iPod, what music would he have chosen to put on it?” One of the compositions Hoffman identified was Gottschalk's “Union” (1862). A Southern-born piano virtuoso and composer from Louisiana, Gottschalk wove several familiar tunes, including “The Star Spangled Banner,” “Yankee Doodle,” and “Hail Columbia,” into this well-received, patriotic medley ( Regardless of his Southern heritage, Gottschalk was a supporter of the Union cause—a worthy cause—led by a man whom Gottschalk respected, admired, and honored. As highlighted in Chapter 5, “People don't at first follow worthy causes. They follow worthy leaders who promote worthwhile causes” (Maxwell, 2001, p. 155). A well-constructed principal-preparation plan will enable worthy principal leaders to successfully implement your district's instructional coaching initiative. With your group, discuss ways to assist the worthy principal leaders in your district as they promote and support your coaching initiative.
    • The authors recommend seven topics to address in principal-preparation plans. Review these seven topics and generate a series of questions you want to have answered before proceeding with your planning for principal preparation.
    • Identify other pertinent topics for principal preparation your district deems necessary.
    • Discuss other change initiatives your district has experienced. What aspects of these earlier initiatives were successful? What decisions supported their success? What aspects of the change were less successful? What could have made the change better, easier, more successful, and so forth?
    • Brainstorm a list of potential experts on leading change you could enlist to assist in your principal-preparation plans. Identify the various roles they could assume (presenter, site-based consultant, etc.). Think about how much time you should devote to this particular topic. Consider the benefits of surveying principals and other administrators in your district to determine experience and attitudes regarding implementing major change initiatives.
    • Using the “A Coach Is … A Coach Is Not” activity from Killion and Harrison's work, Taking the Lead (2006), identify qualities participants believe fit each column. Discuss reasons for assigning qualities to one side of the T-chart or the other.
    • Many principals and district leaders engage in “learning walks” to observe and take note of the types and quality of teaching and learning behaviors occurring in their schools.

      Consider the idea of teamed learning walks in which participants conduct walks in pairs for the purpose of identifying stellar classrooms—those classrooms in which students appear to be highly focused and actively engaged in learning. Upon completion of the learning walk, pairs engage in a discussion about the classrooms they identified with regard to the specific teacher and student behaviors they observed in these classrooms that led them to their conclusions. (Note: The purpose of this activity is not to rank teachers but to reach consensus on what exceptional teaching and learning strategies look and sound like.) Identified teacher and student behaviors from all of the walks can then be compiled into a list of stellar strategies. This list may be used to assist principals in determining a focus for coaching activities in their schools.

    • Barkley (2010) identifies four communication models used in the coaching process:
    The Scenario

    As is probably true in most school districts, school leaders in the Making Strides School District are encouraged to engage and support teachers in professional learning communities (PLCs) as a protocol for job-embedded professional development. District leaders introduced the PLC concept to principals, assistant principals, and district-level supervisors more than a decade ago as part of their leadership development plan. Following initial professional learning sessions, administrators eagerly took their newly acquired understanding of professional learning communities back to their schools to share with teachers. With time, practice, and ongoing support, some schools solidly embraced the PLC concept and experienced their school cultures evolving into a true community of lifelong learners. However, not all schools were able to build the momentum required to sustain the district's change initiative.

    Continual reinforcement and modeling gave principals the necessary support and encouragement to help them develop their understanding and practice of PLCs. Nonetheless, growth and personnel changes led the Making Strides School District to provide additional instruction in professional learning community concepts to school leaders. The plan this time was to make sure the session did not begin with answers—it had to begin with questions. Questions like, “What would it be like if your schools flourished around adult and student learning that was intentional?” Administrators were asked to envision such a school—to imagine what it would look like, what it would sound like, what it would feel like to work and learn in such a setting. During this leadership academy, administrators were given the opportunity to collaborate in their own PLCs, to share best practices, triumphs, and challenges. Before the conclusion of the academy, every school administrator developed an action plan for implementing (or in some cases, strengthening) professional learning communities.

    Fast-forward 3 years. Some schools in the Making Strides School District solidly embraced the PLC concept and experienced their school cultures evolving into a true community of lifelong learners. However, just as before, not all schools were able to build the momentum required to sustain the district's change initiative.

    Questions for Reflection and Discussion

    In this scenario, Making Strides School District was unable to generate the required collective capacity to systemically integrate a new professional development model. Even though all principals received ongoing learning opportunities and support for building collaborative school cultures with professional learning communities, the desired change was not developed and sustained in all schools.

    • What other measures could district leaders in the Making Strides School District have taken to help schools implement and sustain the PLC model?
    • When (if ever) should change be mandated rather than encouraged? What are the benefits and drawbacks of either approach?
    • Think of a time when you needed to build collective capacity. How did you go about doing so? How successful were your efforts?
    • If you were charged with introducing a new program to your school or district with the expectation for full implementation, what steps would you take to facilitate the change?
    Chapter 6Anchors Aweigh: Preparing Coaches Through Preservice Instruction
    • The Music: “Anchors Aweigh” by Zimmerman (1906)
    • The Metaphor: For thousands of years, anchors have been used to prevent ships from freely drifting. Whether preparing for rest or bracing for a storm, able-bodied seamen drop anchor to secure their vessel. When the ship's crew is ready to continue their voyage, they must weigh, or hoist, the anchor. This action frees the ship to move. Newly hired coaches present themselves anchored to their roles as classroom teachers. We assist them in weighing anchor—freeing them to assume a new leadership role—through a variety of preservice learning opportunities aimed at aligning coaching activities with school and district goals.
    Suggested Activities
    • The opening quote for Chapter 2, attributed to Antoine de Saint-Exupery, cautions us to pay attention to the big picture. Often, newly hired coaches enter their roles with vision limited to their classrooms or schools. With participants, identify the necessary steps to help expand your coaches’ vision so they long for the immensity of the sea.
    • Consider the size of your district. Is your district so large that some of your new coaches will have never visited other schools or communities within your boundaries? Perhaps you have a small district in which “everybody knows your name.” Who in your district is best equipped to provide a detail of school and community demographics, historical data, and interesting facts? Decide if taking time to build understanding and appreciation for the district as a single, unified community will have a positive, long-term impact if included in your preservice learning plans.
    • Several suggested readings to aid in developing a clear understanding of coaching are listed below. Choose one of the readings to complete as an in-depth, self-guided, or facilitated study. Another option is to assign different readings to each member of your group and ask them to present a summary at your next meeting. Prior to their start date, newly hired coaches may be required to read one or more of the books you selected.
    • Holonomy may be a new concept for some members of your team. Discuss holonomy, including the idea of both vertical and horizontal holonomy. Identify strategies for increasing your new coaches’ sense and awareness of holonomy.
    • Lead your group in a discussion using the following questions:
      • What are the specific knowledge and skill sets we want our coaches to deepen and refine?
      • Who are the experts in our organization who will be responsible for leading professional learning activities during the preservice period?
      • What district and/or school goals or initiatives do we want to address during preservice learning?
      • How much time should we allot for implementing our preservice learning plan?
      • How far in advance of the coaches’ first day in their schools can we start preservice learning activities?
      • What resources are available to us to implement our plan effectively?
    • Coaches wear many different hats, so at any given time, a coach is a resource provider, data coach, curriculum specialist, instructional specialist, classroom supporter, mentor, learning facilitator, school leader, catalyst for change, and learner (Killion & Harrison, 2006). Create a sample preservice learning agenda that addresses each of the roles you expect your coaches to play. You may wish to create actual hats as visual reminders of which learning activities are supporting which role.
    • Brainstorm the initiatives instructional coaches could help advance in your district. Identify the types of learning opportunities new coaches will need to elevate their level of expertise in these initiatives and increase their opportunities for success.
    Chapter 7All Hands on Deck: Preparing the Teachers and Staff
    • The Music: “Sailing” by Christopher Cross (1979)
    • The Metaphor: The first time I went sailing on a friend's sailboat, I envisioned myself relaxing like the song by Christopher Cross suggested. I was wrong. Within moments, I discovered that I was supposed to be doing something with a rope every minute. “Sailing” sounds very tranquil, but whether you are on a small private yacht or a merchant marine ship, it is actually a lot of work that must be done quickly and simultaneously. When the captain and crew have been chosen and trained and you are ready to finally sail, you need to make sure that everyone—all hands—is ready for the venture. On a large ship the boatswain (or bo'sun) historically was the person to call the crew on deck with the phrase “all hands on deck” or “all hands to sail.” In your organization, you no doubt have a boatswain (and it might be you!) who is responsible for making sure the work gets done and, at times, for calling everyone to work. When that time comes, the boatswain must make sure that all the hands understand their roles and are ready to do their part. As the deck crew's foreman, the boatswain plans the daily work and assignments of the crew, and he or she must have a variety of sailing skills, including handling a variety of emergencies and communicating well with crew of diverse backgrounds and skill sets.
    Suggested Activities

    1. Share the sailing metaphor or a story of your own experience with sailing. Generate a group discussion to identify the boatswain in your organization—the key person who knows the ropes and can call all hands to pull the coach and school together.

    2. Think about the cultural “lay of the land” in the schools in your district. Are all schools equally prepared to embrace an instructional coaching initiative? Are there schools that have well-established collaborative cultures that could serve as model schools in your district? Are there schools that have attempted to grow a collaborative culture but lack the day-to-day nourishment that an in-house instructional coach can provide? Are there schools in your district that are in more critical need of a change initiative? Discuss how you meet the diverse needs in your district while fostering collaborative cultures for all.

    3. Discuss the benefits of having the coach work with teacher leaders in the school before being assigned to work with teachers in need of improvement. What alternate approach might work best in your district?

    4. Consider your school or district. What entrenched programs or job positions might feel marginalized by a new coaching program? What steps can you take to keep this from happening?

    5. According to Gladwell (2002), three types of people can impact the success of a new idea. Mavens are collectors of knowledge and want to review the research and data before forming an opinion. Connectors have wide networks and are on friendly terms with most everyone. Salesmen (or persuaders, in educational terms) are masters of connecting with people on an emotional level and drawing them into their own emotions. Identify the mavens, connectors, and persuaders in your organization. How can you leverage their strengths to champion your coaching initiative?

    6. Brainstorm a sticky story about collegiality. Set a timer for 5 minutes and write down all the qualities of coaching you can think of that you would like to express to a school faculty. Then, as a group, share stories of times in your life when a coach helped you or would have helped you by exhibiting those qualities. After discussion, independently write down an outline of your story, being sure to keep it brief and interesting!

    7. Pushback is a term that describes resistance to a new idea or initiative. In your group, role play several situations in which one person plays the role of the new coach and one person plays the role of someone resisting the coach's request to collaborate. With each role-play situation you create, vary the degree of pushback. Debrief the role-play experiences from both roles’ perspectives. Following are some sample scenarios to help you get started.

    Scenario 1

    Coach Role: You are a new coach in a school in which teachers have little experience with collaboration, and trust for any outsider is minimal at best. You have been asked to observe a teacher's classroom to determine the fidelity with which a reading initiative is being implemented.

    Teacher Role: You are a reading teacher and grade leader. You have 10 years’ experience in this position and school and do not like the new reading initiative your district has rolled out. Your student achievement and progress scores have always been solid, so you have no plans to change what you've always done. Your principal introduced the new instructional coach to the faculty during a recent meeting and announced that he will be coming to classrooms to observe. You have made up your mind that you don't need anyone telling you how to teach reading.

    Scenario 2

    Coach Role: You have been charged with the responsibility of fostering professional learning communities (PLCs) in your school assignment. After discussing school-improvement goals with the principal, you suggest inviting the English department to form a professional learning community (PLC) for the purpose of examining student data. Your principal loves that idea and tells you to get started right away. You bring up the PLC idea while having lunch with some teachers from the English department.

    Teacher Role: You are an English teacher at a local high school. As a department, teachers are frightened and anxious about having student achievement data tied to your performance evaluations. You're having lunch with a colleague when the new instructional coach joins you. Right away, she starts talking about professional learning communities and looking at student data. You bristle at the thought of anyone besides your principal knowing your teacher effectiveness results. Besides that, who has time to meet regularly to look at student data?

    Scenario 3

    Coach Role: You have been assigned to work in a school in which the principal has clearly communicated that she doesn't need a coach in her building—she needs another administrator. You point out the benefits of coaching and that while your role is designed to support teaching and learning, it will also support the principal in her school-improvement efforts.

    Principal Role: Your district has rolled out a new instructional coaching program, and you will have an instructional coach assigned to your school. You know there is room for academic and instructional improvement, but how can that happen when your school has so many disciplinary issues? You don't want or need someone else to supervise if they're not there to help with discipline, bus duty, cafeteria duty, and the like. Get real, people!

    8. The authors assert that our goal is not to have a coaching program forever, but to have a healthy professional culture in which the capacity of teachers, leaders, and students is maximized. What does maximum capacity look like for teachers, leaders, and students in your school or district?

    9. If you don't know what a coach has to offer, it is difficult to know how to use one! Create a menu of coaching activities (modeling, observation, standards alignment, etc.) from which your staff might choose. If you are especially creative, make it look like a real menu!

    10. Create a checklist for the principal. List all the items that must be accounted for before the coach arrives—space, time, coach support, and communication structure.

    Chapter 8Trimming the Sails: Ongoing Professional Learning and Support
    • The Music: “Sailing Ships” by Whitesnake (Cloverdale & Vandenberg, 1989)
    • The Metaphor: Trimming the sails is all about adjusting the tautness of the sails to the speed and direction of the wind in order to move the ship along at your desired clip, or speed. The sails have to be pulled just tightly enough to catch the wind and move the boat forward. If the sails are pulled too tightly, the boat stalls. If the sails are not pulled tightly enough, they luff (or flap loosely), causing the boat to lose speed and direction. We can apply this concept to our instructional coaching program. Once we release the newly prepared instructional coaches to the open waters of schools and classrooms, we need to constantly trim the sails of learning and support for them—too much support smothers, or stalls their progress, while too little support causes them to flounder about aimlessly. We have to provide coaches with the right balance of ongoing learning and support that allows them to assume their roles with confidence and courage.
    Suggested Activities
    • Read the metaphor above and discuss with your group how you can achieve the perfect balance of learning and support for your coaches.
    • Make a list of all your in-house experts and their areas of expertise. Consider your district needs and goals as well as the needs and goals of your coaching program. How can you leverage the collective capacity within your organization to provide a comprehensive, ongoing, and sustained learning plan for your coaches?
    • Map out your ideal comprehensive learning plan to support and sustain your coaches. Create an estimated projected budget for your plan.
    • Who are the experts in your state department of education who might be available to provide professional learning for your coaches? Designate one or two members from your group to contact these people to find out their availability for such a request.
    • If you have a local college or university near your district, have someone from your group contact them for potential collaborative learning opportunities.
    • Research grants or other sources that might offset some of the costs associated with your coaches’ learning needs.
    Chapter 9Mooring the Ship: Avalon or Ithaca?
    • The Music: “Sitting on the Dock of the Bay” by Otis Redding (Redding & Cooper, 1968)
    • The Metaphor: In the legend of King Arthur, Avalon is the mystical place where Arthur received Excalibur and where he returned at the end of his life to return the sword. It is a beautiful place, inhabited by magical women, where “no wind blows and where hail, rain and snow have never been known to fall” (Manguel & Guadalupi, 2000, p. 47). In Celtic mythology, Avalon is like the Garden of Eden—it is a place where you do not have to farm the land. The environment simply provides everything you need to survive.

      Ithaca is a real island in the Ionic Sea, in contrast to some of the other locations in Homer's Odyssey. Ithaca is the home to which Odysseus returns after his life of adventure sailing around the seas, fighting Cyclopes, and avoiding Lotus Eaters. In contrast to Avalon, things were not going so well in Ithaca when Odysseus returned. While he was away, a band of suitors had arrived to steal away his wife and his wealth. To get back his rightful place in the family, he had to pass a test of skill and strength, woo back his wife, kill the suitors, and hang the treacherous maids. Odysseus was almost killed himself, but the goddess Athena intervened and saved him. In Ithaca, everything does not take care of itself.

    Suggested Activities
    • Share the contrasting descriptions of Avalon and Ithaca with group members. Create a T-chart and generate a list of descriptors for what Avalon and Ithaca would look like for a new instructional coaching program. Knowing that everything won't take care of itself as you implement your coaching program, discuss the actions your group should take to avoid the trappings that could result from pie-in-the sky expectations or failure to provide everything the coaching program needs to thrive.
    • The authors state that our goal for instructional coaching should be to create a school culture in which change and continual improvement are the norm and risk-taking is encouraged. Where is your organization in relation to this goal?
    • How do you evaluate other professional development models in place in your district? Are the varying approaches you use getting the same results? Are there any approaches you might consider ending?
    • What is your school or district currently spending for professional development? How does that cost compare to your projected costs for implementing an instructional coaching model?
    • As you prepare to launch your own instructional coaching program, how will you answer the following questions: What is best for the students in our school district? Where will coaches have the greatest impact?
    • Read Brutus's lines from Act 4, scene 3 of Shakespeare's Julius Caesar. How does this apply to decisions you might make about expanding, sustaining, changing, or abandoning and reimagining your program? Can you think of another poem, saying, or song that gives you courage as you make the decisions ahead?
    • There is a tide in the affairs of men.
    • Which, taken at the flood, leads on to fortune;
    • Omitted, all the voyage of their life
    • Is bound in shallows and in miseries.
    • On such a full sea are we now afloat,
    • And we must take the current when it serves,
    • Or lose our ventures.

    References for Facilitator's Guide

    Apted, M. (Director). (2006). Amazing grace [Motion picture]. United States: Samuel Goldwyn Films.
    Barkley, S. G. (2010). Quality teaching in a culture of coaching.Lanham, MD: Rowman & Litchfield Education.
    Buffett, J. (1978). Son of a Son of a Sailor. Son of a Son of a Sailor [LP]. ABC Dunhill/MCA.
    Buxbaum, J. (Creator). (1958–1961). Sea Hunt [Television series]. Los Angeles: United Artists Television.
    Childress, H. (1998). ‘Seventeen reasons why football is better than high school’. The Phi Delta Kappan, 79(8), 616–619.
    Cloverdale, D., & Vandenberg, A., songwriters. (1989). Sailing Ships [Recorded by WhiteSnake] On Slip of the Tongue [LP]. New York: Geffen Records.
    Collins, J. (2001). Good to great: Why some companies make the leap–and others don't.New York: Harper Business.
    Costa, A. L., & Garmston, R. J. (2002). Cognitive coaching: A foundation for renaissance schools. Norwood, MA: Christopher-Gordon.
    Cross, C. (1979). Sailing. On Christopher Cross [LP]. Burbank, CA: Warner Bros. Records.
    Dylan, B. (1962). Blowin' in the wind. On The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan [LP]. New York: Columbia (1963).
    Fullan, M. (2008). The six secrets of change: What the best leaders do to help their organizations survive and thrive.San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
    Fullan, M. (2010). Motion leadership: The skinny on becoming change savvy.Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin.
    Gladwell, M. (2002). The tipping point: How little things can make a big difference.Boston: Back Bay Books.
    Gottschalk, L. M. (n.d.). Retrieved from
    Hague, W. (2007). William Wilberforce: The life of the great anti-slave trade campaigner.Orlando, FL: Harcourt.
    Heath, C., & Heath, D. (2011). Overcoming resistance to change. School Administrator, 3, 28–32.
    Hoffman, M. (2009, February 16). If Abraham Lincoln had an iPod. NPR: National Public Radio: News & Analysis, World, US, Music & Arts: NPR. Retrieved from
    Hoey, G. (2010). Simplify. On Utopia [MP3]. Salem, NH: Wazoo Music Group.
    Killion, J. (2008). ‘Courage, confidence, clarity mark the pathway to change’. Journal of Staff Development, 29(4), 55–59.
    Killion, J. (2009). Coaches' roles, responsibilities, and reach. In Knight (Ed.), Coaching approaches and perspectives (pp. 7–28). Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin.
    Killion, J., & Harrison, C. (2006). Taking the lead: New roles for teachers and school-based coaches.Oxford, OH: NSDC.
    Kipling, R. (1996). In S.Stuart (Ed.), A treasury of poems: A collection of the world's most famous verse. New York: Galahad Books.
    Knight, J. (2005). ‘A primer on instructional coaches’. Principal Leadership, 5(9), 16–21.
    Knight, J. (2007). ‘Five key points to building a coaching program’. Journal of Staff Development, 28(1), 26–31.
    Knight, J. (2009). Coaching: Approaches and perspectives. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin.
    Knight, J. (2011). Unmistakable impact: A partnership approach for dramatically improving instruction. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin.
    Lightfoot, G. (1976). The Wreck of the Edmond Fitzgerald. On Summertime Dream [LP]. Burbank, CA: Reprise Records.
    Manguel, A., & Guadalupi, G. (2000). The dictionary of imaginary places.New York: Harcourt Brace.
    Maxwell, J. C. (2001). The 21 irrefutable laws of leadership workbook.Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson.
    Redding, O., & Cropper, S. (1967). Sitting on the dock of the bay [Recorded by Otis Redding]. On The Dock of the Bay [LP]. Burbank, CA: Warner Music Group Volto/Atco (1968).
    Scott, S. (2004). Fierce conversations: Achieving success at work & in life, one conversation at a time.New York: Berkley Books.
    Senge, P. M. (2006). The fifth discipline: The art and practice of the learning organization.New York: Doubleday/Currency.
    Thoreau, H. (2011). Walden.Macon, GA: Mercer University Press.
    Wilson, P. (n.d.) Blob Tree. Wimpy player. Retrieved from
    Zimmerman, C. (Composer) (1906). Anchors Aweigh [Recorded by U.S. Navy Band]. On A Patriotic Salute to the Military Family [MP3]. Franklin, TN: Altissimo Recordings (2001).

    CORWIN: A SAGE Company

    The Corwin logo—a raven striding across an open book—represents the union of courage and learning. Corwin is committed to improving education for all learners by publishing books and other professional development resources for those serving the field of PreK-12 education. By providing practical, hands-on materials, Corwin continues to carry out the promise of its motto: “Helping Educators Do Their Work Better.”

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