By Ellen Eisenberg

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

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

As a coach, it is important to recognize that coaching is situational and differentiated. While the BDA cycle of consultation is critical for transparency, transformation, and talking about instructional practice, not every teacher needs all three “prongs” of the BDA cycle of consultation each time they meet with the coach. The three “pronged” approach, however, should be followed at least a few times per quarter with each teacher.

The BDA cycle is a conversation between a coach and teacher to collaborate and communicate about their work together. It is an agreement for working together as partners. A new teacher may need more support than an experienced teacher or an experienced teacher may want more support because s/he is teaching new content. Either way, the coach and teacher must collaborate and decide the kind of support needed: intensive support means working multiple times with the same person; strategic support means working with teachers on a variety of specific instructional practices; and independent support means that the coach and teacher may work together less often because the needs can be met with less frequent time together.

The starting point for the process is the “B” or before conversation. Here the coach and teacher co-plan and discuss the goals for the class and how those goals will be achieved. The coach is a good listener here, asking probing or clarifying questions without giving an unsolicited opinion. The object is to ask the questions that encourage the teacher to think about why these goals are important and if the instructional delivery and resources identified will help the teacher meet the needs of the students. The teacher and coach co-construct the plan to collect evidence that reflect the agreed upon goals and they schedule a date to discuss that classroom visit giving themselves time to process the actual classroom visitation.

The during or “D” part of the cycle is where the action takes place. The coach may visit and collect the agreed upon data, may model a segment of the lesson, or may co-teach with the teacher. Regardless of the activity, the coach and teacher need this visit so they can reflect in, on, and about classroom practice. This is where the coach and teacher can “see” if what they wanted to do was accomplished.

The after or “A” part of the cycle is critical for transformation. This is the time where the coach and teacher are reflective and give timely, specific, descriptive, and non-judgmental feedback to determine what worked well and what practice needs additional support.

No matter how often coaches and teachers work together, following the BDA cycle of consultation is critical for ongoing communication and collective problem solving to take place.

Which phase of the BDA cycle is the most comfortable for your colleagues? Why do you think this is so?


  1. The timing of this post is perfect. We were just discussing the BDA and the fact that all "prongs" do not happen every time - especially in the relationship-building phase of a coaching relationship.

    1. Hi Virginia. As coaches and teachers become more and more comfortable working with each other, the three "prongs" are less discrete. Very often the "A" actually becomes the "B" for the next cycle of coaching support because the reflection is what influences the next steps.