By Ellen Eisenberg

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

Tuesday, February 27, 2018


My son recently sent me a few blogs about the growth of technology companies and I was pleasantly surprised by some of the attributes the managers of the tech companies seek in their employees and the striking similarities to the field of instructional coaching. They want employees who can handle freedom (take initiative), accept personal accountability (be at the right place at the right time), and possess a constructive measure of humility (they appreciate learning from others).  I would venture to say that these attributes are closely aligned to what we believe is important for instructional coaches and implementing an effective instructional coaching model.

I was intrigued by the companies who intentionally design their top-level management structures to include ways to break down the silos that force separation of information. It appears they are trying to help their employees create collaborative environments that encourage shared thinking around data so that all perspectives can be taken into consideration when designing company-wide improvements and identifying industry trends. They are highlighting the merits of the team approach and collective responsibility, all the while keeping the “client or customer” front and center.

If that doesn’t sound like what we are trying to accomplish with instructional coaching, I don’t know what does!

What are some strategies you have encouraged in your school to enhance collaboration and shared thinking? How does this collective thinking help achieve your school wide improvement goals?

Thursday, February 1, 2018

Ever the English teacher, I’m drawn to articles, blogs, and commentaries about what amazing things happen in the English classroom where students are reading the literature that set my heart on fire so many years ago (and continues to do so!) as a student in a large urban school district. In fact, I’m drawn to anything and everything that shares innovative ideas that engage students, regardless of the content areas!

I’ve been reading a lot about how schools can help students engage more in their learning. Of course, we all want students to take ownership of their learning and try to offer them multiple opportunities for self-directed learning. We want them to WANT to learn; we want them to LIKE school. Unfortunately, some students are disenfranchised, and their teachers might not know how to pull them back into a learning mode. They might not know a variety of ways to provide “peak moments” (borrowed from Education Week, January 18) in learning. You know, peak moments like the one I experienced when our book was published! (I will never forget that celebratory moment.)

Students can experience those peak moments if their teachers are able to create ongoing instances for those moments to occur. Here’s why instructional coaching is so critical… instructional coaches create the circumstances where colleagues collaborate and talk about practice. The more teaching colleagues talk about teaching and learning, the more likely it is that those “peak moments” can become the norm in classrooms. Sharing ideas and multiple ways to approach effective instructional delivery is essential for student and teacher success.


As a coach, how do you help teachers create those “peak moments” that define the classroom experience?