By Ellen Eisenberg

By Ellen Eisenberg, Executive Director of The Professional Institute for Instructional Coaching (TPIIC)

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

One of the most valuable practices an instructional coach can help teachers implement is the process of reflection. It’s really not just reporting about action, ideas, or plans; it’s all about making thinking and actions visible and then discussing why and how those actions, ideas, and plans worked. It’s all about the deliberate and intentional conversations that must occur when talking about teaching and learning.

The difference between reporting and reflecting is easy to understand: reporting means to give an account, write a summary, or provide an explanation for some transaction that has taken place. Most reports repeat what happened in some detail or make some announcement; there is no analysis, only the details without any interpretation. On the other hand, a reflection is a thought provoking, meditative process that involves serious thinking, introspection, immersion, and engagement in some action. It is an analysis and commentary of an encounter with the primary purpose of interpreting what happened, determining if the action was appropriate, and making necessary adjustments to make the next encounter more successful.

Making time to sit quietly and think about your actions and then discussing those actions with an instructional coach is liberating and cathartic. It gives an individual the “permission” to talk about practice and discuss ways to make that practice even more effective. It is an internal monologue at first followed by a deliberate conversation with like-minded practitioners who can give focused advice. It’s an authentic way for practitioners to practice with each other without the anxiety of an evaluation.


  1. Building relationships with the teachers is crucial when it comes to encouraging reflection. It's not easy to let others in on your thinking when you do not have a trusting relationship with him or her. Teaching is very personal, therefore, building a personal and trusting relationship must come before others willingly open up to share their reflections. It's also important for the coach to listen more and talk less, wouldn't you say? If I hear my voice more than the other person's voice, who is doing the reflecting? Thanks for a great post to remind me how important relationships and listening are to the job of coaching

  2. Hi Gail. Thanks for your comment. You are so right... that's why we have two ears and only one mouth!