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Time for a Coaching Cycle

The temperatures are cooling. Our wardrobes are changing. We are bringing out the layers to add warmth. This also means we are in full swing of the school year. Beginning of the year activities, such as assessment screenings, are coming to a close. Teachers have a wide variety of data on their students. Just as we add layers of clothing to keep us warm, instructional coaches can add layers of support for teacher and student success through coaching cycles.

It is hard to believe we have about 6 weeks until Thanksgiving Break. If one of your priorities is instructional coaching, now is the perfect time for coaching cycles with teachers. Some things to consider:

  • Decide how many teachers you could coach on an ongoing basis for 4 to 6 weeks. If coaching cycles are new to you, start small. Go for SMALL WINS! If you have completed coaching cycles in the past consider adding more teachers as your time allows.
  • Once you have determined a teacher(s) to coach,  schedule a time to be with them once a week. What gets scheduled, gets done! Be intentional with your time.
Author, Diane Sweeney recently shared a look at a typical ongoing cycle, breaking the components into doable chunks. The following is a  general representation of the time factor. The percentages represent the amount of time within the 4 to 6 week cycle that generally is devoted to each component.

Steps to a Successful Coaching Cycle

The first step is pretty obvious. You need to find a teacher(s) to coach.  Jim Knight calls this enrolling. There are many ways to enroll teachers. Some coaches start with teachers they know well, perhaps a former grade level partner. Others find ways to introduce coaching to the school staff and willing teachers take their lead. Incidental conversations with teachers can plant seeds with teachers that eventually lead to coaching cycles.  Or perhaps you have a new teacher at your school. Often they are eager for the coaching helping them get their teaching experiences off to a great start!

Once you have a teacher/teachers lined up you can set a time with the teacher(s) to talk about areas you may address together as a coaching partnership. A good place to start is to ask the teacher to tell you about his/her class and what they are currently working on. What strengths and challenges are the students exhibiting. Often we can use students strengths to address challenges. Also during this time determine ways to collect current reality data. The teacher may already have a set of data to work from.  Or together you can determine the type of data to collect. Data can be formative assessment or other types of data a coach could collect, such as time on task, types of questions asked, positive to negative interactions to name a few.

Goal setting comes next. What do students need? What do teachers need in order to build student success. If possible, schedule these first few components (enrolling, current reality and goal setting) within the first week or so of your coaching cycle, allowing for more time for the ongoing work in the classroom.

The 60% area represented in the pie chart above is the heart of the coaching cycle. During this time a coach can provide support in a variety of ways, such as co-planning lessons, co-teaching lessons with teachers, modeling lesson components, observing students. etc…all working toward the goal. As a coach, this is a time to craft ways to help the teacher(s) reflect on the work being done. How are the students progressing towards the goal? Are teachers getting closer to their own goals?

With all this behind you, you could be holding an ending debrief right around Thanksgiving time! Just imagine heading into Thanksgiving break full of gratitude for the opportunity to provide the support/warmth for a teacher (or a few) in your school!

Keep Shining, 


Do you want to reach your goals even faster? How about having a coach of your own? Check out my Virtual Coaching for Instructional Coaches! Your first call is always FREE! My goal is for YOU to SHINE!

Check out some of my favorite instructional coaching books here!

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