By Ellen Eisenberg

By Ellen Eisenberg, Executive Director of The Pennsylvania Institute for Instructional Coaching (PIIC)

Thursday, February 16, 2017

The start of the “testing” season will soon be upon us and we all know what that means. Coaches will be “tasked” to be the leaders of the testing brigade. But that’s the issue, isn’t it… coaches will be the testing coordinators, distributors, administrators, make-up facilitators, and test collectors because after all, they don’t have their own classes.

I urge you to be the coordinator… not of the testing process, but of the collective process that should occur in a school. There needs to be a testing committee that shares in the process. Each school has a librarian, a counselor, administrators, maybe a coordinator or two, and other support staff who can all take an active role in the testing community. If we believe that the whole community is impacted by testing, then we should involve the whole community in the testing process. Some schools, in fact, have parent committees who also offer a helping hand in the process. (These schools offer a “training” session to help acquaint parent volunteers with the process.) Each school is part of a district. I wonder if there are a few district folks who can lend a helping hand as well.

To the extent that you can, please try and organize a community effort as we approach the critical testing period. If a coach is the only one facilitating the process, think of all the missed opportunities for that coach to work with his/her teaching colleagues while the administrative work for testing occurs. Can we really, in all good conscience, suspend all our coaching efforts to administer a test that can be easily shared among several members in our communities of learning?

What is the testing process that your school/district employs? Is there room for change?

Thursday, February 2, 2017


In a Huffpost Business blog I recently read, blogger Faisal Hoque mentioned that “…Leaders fail when they cannot connect with people” and that “leaders who can inspire others but are detached from the messy process of managing others fail.”

Instructional coaches are skilled in establishing solid working relationships based on a shared understanding and a mutual respect for teaching and learning. They work with their teaching colleagues to ensure that building teacher capacity, increasing student engagement, and improving student outcomes are the keys to successful implementation of the school wide improvement process. They recognize that developing trusting relationships designed to foster growth removes the stigma of failure and the threat of a negative evaluation. They understand how to navigate the issues that influence student learning and create opportunities for collaboration, collective problem-solving, and transparent communication.

So, how do coaches “connect with others”?  They personalize the interactions with their teaching 
colleagues. They ask questions; they don’t give answers. They encourage thinking out of the box with an emphasis on limitless thinking. They help shape the thought process to be exploratory and interpretive rather than convergent. They focus on discussing multiple perspectives and varied approaches to problems of practice. They do all of this with an added bonus… they recognize the strengths and expertise of their teaching colleagues! They work through the classroom challenges with their colleagues, share the ups and downs, and offer the side-by-side, non-evaluative elbow-to-elbow support. They listen.

What are some of the ways your coaching interactions help you connect with your colleagues?