By Ellen Eisenberg

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

Monday, April 16, 2018


Going to an international conference is awesome. We just returned from presenting at the ASCD Empower 18 Conference in Boston and met so many like-minded practitioners… it was incredible to see how many coaches and administrators were at the conference. Instructional Coaching is truly becoming a household word! And, we almost sold out of our book!!

What really struck me was the variety of definitions for instructional coaching. I always say if you put 10 people in a room and ask them to define the instructional coaching role, there would be 10 different definitions… my thinking was confirmed!

The variations ran the gamut… coaches pulling out students for tutoring, discipline, and missed assignments to coaches described as helping hands so they duplicate materials, go on trips, sit in on IEPs as the teacher on record, and “judge” various school contests, all part of their “coaching” roles. Some coaches do not get a chance to meet one-on-one with their teaching colleagues because coaching is voluntary, and some teachers still think the coach’s visit is an observation. (That’s why we differentiate between coach visits and administrative observations.)

What’s clear to me about the cloudy description of the coaching role is that we need to ensure that everyone in the school community understands what instructional coaching is, how it can benefit the students, teachers, and school. We need to focus on how coaching can help the school community achieve individual and collective goals. We need to build awareness and then remind our “investors” that instructional coaching is a job-embedded teacher professional development model that is a confidential, safe, non-evaluative way to help student learning and teacher practice grow. It’s not a deficit model but rather a model that honors both the students and teachers by providing ample opportunities for learning to take place at all levels, every day, all day. 

We need to remind ourselves that each and every day, coaches help teachers change and improve their practice and increase student engagement and outcomes. If we do that every day, we are on the right path.

How do you ensure that your school community understands how instructional coaching helps achieve school wide improvement and recognizes your coaching role in that process ?

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