By Ellen Eisenberg

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

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

In the 2009 Status Report on Teacher Development in the United States and Abroad, Stephanie Hirsh states that “… improving professional learning for educators is a crucial step in transforming schools and improving academic achievement.” She continues by saying that we have a responsibility to ensure that teacher skills and knowledge must be strengthened so that every teacher is equipped with the tools necessary to teach “diverse learners, be knowledgeable about student learning, competent in complex core academic content, and skillful at the craft of teaching.”

Schools need to make sure that professional learning is planned and organized to engage all teachers regularly and to advance the learning of all students. This, of course, means that high-quality, sustained professional learning must be available so that all teachers are given an opportunity to nourish their own professional growth. Enter the coach!

As you prepare for the relaxing summer and reflect on your work as instructional coaches, mentors, administrators, or other school leader, take some time to think about how you have impacted student learning, encouraged teacher professional growth, and improved student and teacher engagement. Without influencing these elements in schools, student growth will not happen.

If you are like me, I’m sure you’ve had your share of advice not taken immediately or your suggestions for a different approach to student learning met with less than an enthusiastic response. When that happens, I reflect and engage in an internal monologue and think about how my intentions are shared and what my expectations are with respect to that conversation. I think back to Stephanie Hirsh’s words and remind myself that my role is to support, encourage, refine, and improve each and every coach’s and teacher’s practice so that every student is the beneficiary of a highly effective instructional practice delivered by a highly effective instructor.

Take some time and reflect on all the changes that have occurred in schools. Celebrate those changes and use this reflective process as part of the planning for next year. Build on the successes from this year and think ahead about next year’s goals keeping the focus clear and deliberate: improve professional learning for educators which will transform schools and improve academic achievement.


  1. Specific attention to the individual needs of teachers is key, rather than playing initiative roulette. If teachers don't value their own professional learning, the ownership is in the wrong place. Just as kids need to own their learning, so do teachers, so do coaches, so do administrators.

  2. I agree... teachers must take ownership and value professional learning. The problem, however, is that many times, the professional learning is actually just professional development that is not relevant, not tied to teacher practices, or followed with ongoing support to ensure effective implementation. However, when teachers are valued and accepted for the valuable support they provide to their students and other colleagues, then the PD becomes professional learning and teachers take ownership of their learning. Coaches help in this process to ensure that the PD becomes PL and that teachers can practice what they learn in a no-risk environment.