Coaching Teachers: Strategies and Evaluating Impacts

Coaching can give teachers the extra skills, support, and practice they need to develop professionally. That’s because coaching facilitates an environment in which teachers can take risks, reflect, and reform their practices.

Teachers can apply what they’ve learned from coaching sessions in the classroom. And, they can do so in a more consistent and profound way.

Here are a few strategies to consider when setting up a successful teacher coaching program.

Consider How Many Teachers Need Coaching

While coaching offers several benefits, you should ensure that it’s the right approach for your teachers. A Review of Educational Research study conducted by Brown University and University of Maryland professors found that improvement in instruction quality doesn’t necessarily coincide with student academic improvement.

This finding demonstrates a need to evaluate whether every teacher should be coached. The study also found that larger programs coincide with reduced coaching quality. Thus, limiting the size of your coaching program may bring better outcomes.

Coach With Intention in Mind

The study also found that the number of coaching sessions doesn’t improve a teacher’s instructional quality. Instead of coaching everything that a teacher does, you should try to focus on the top challenges teachers tend to face. Whichever coaching strategy you put in place, coach with intention.

Build a Successful Coaching Plan

Coaching teachers requires having a game plan. This will improve the chances of having a successful program. Here’s how you can get started:

1. Align coaching priorities with curricular and instructional priorities.

Consider your instructional vision, the motivation of staff in obtaining this vision, activities, and daily instructional tasks that can support and align with your vision for your coaching plan. Also, consider whether or not current school initiatives may compete with or complement your coaching plan.

2. Establish your coaching staff.

It’s important to know who will be doing the coaching and how many people you can have available for coaching teachers. Limit the number of coaches per teacher so you can support consistent messaging and a focus on priorities. Determine the number of necessary coaches before you begin coaching teachers.

Measure your impact when coaching teachers

3. Calibrate everyone in the process.

From principles to administrators, everyone in the coaching plan needs to be on the same page. It helps to facilitate growth and send a consistent message to teachers as you are coaching them. You can get this done by ensuring your systems, processes, and initiatives work together.

4. Coach for mastery.

Because teaching for career- or college-readiness requires teaching students skills, such as reflection or problem-solving, it’s important that you emphasize mastering content when coaching teachers. This can mean developing video-based content or delivering coaching sessions online via live chat sessions.

5. Set up support.

Coaching plans also need to have a support system. Have coaches reflect on what’s working in the program and what’s not. Set up collaboration sessions with coaches, mentors, principals, or other important stakeholders in the coaching process who have experience with coaching plans so that you can share information and feedback and learn from each others’ challenges.

Measure Coaching Effectiveness

Coaching teachers should go beyond establishing a plan. You have to measure the effectiveness of your coaching strategies and their impacts, too.

Measure success by evaluating whether or not the coaching plan is aligning with the priorities you have in place for your curriculum and instruction. You also want to ensure that you’re gathering feedback from mentors and coaches so you can know what tactics are being effective. With proper evaluation, you can create and replicate strategies that support a successful teacher coaching program.