By Ellen Eisenberg

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

Wednesday, April 21, 2021

 I just read an interesting blog titled, “Feedback Coaching: How to Get Results with Tough Love published online by InPower Coaching ( In this blog, Dana Theus says, “…one thing I notice… particularly those women and men who have what research might call a ‘feminine leadership style’ is that too much empathy can get in the way of the other person’s ability to understand what you really would like them to do.” I’m not even going to address the label for this type of leadership style mentioned!

First of all, in a truly effective instructional coaching role, a coach doesn’t expect a teaching colleague to do something the coach wants the colleague to do. That misses the entire point of effective coaching relationships. Coaches are not experts; they engage in collaborative conversations that are contagious! They engage in coaching interactions that are reflective and confidential, enabling both parties to delve into their practices in ways that are revealing and sometimes uncomfortable. And, the most promising conversations are messy, authentic, and generated by the questions asked, not by the participants being told what to do. Tough love or not… the most effective conversations are not full of praise or pity… they are based on getting better at the craft they are practicing by identifying the needs and ways to refine those practices.

I will admit that further in the blog, the writer does suggest that “Coaching feedback doesn’t tell someone how to do something but creates a safe space within which they can try, fail and succeed to figure it out themselves.”  That’s more of the message that I would convey in describing effective coaching interactions. Of course, in any coaching situation, the conversations are non-evaluative and non-judgmental. It doesn’t matter what the coach thinks is important; it matters what the partnership looks like, what the goals are, and multiple opportunities for the ongoing collaborative conversations that focus on moving practice forward – all with the absence of ego!

What is your experience with the “tough love” notion of feedback?

Thursday, April 1, 2021

As the vaccination process moves forward enabling school staff to be vaccinated, I wonder about the folks in the school buildings who will not get vaccinated. I’m sure there is a plethora of reasons why someone doesn’t go that route, e.g., religious, health, fear, herd mentality, etc. Not getting vaccinated definitely impacts the school environment.

For instance, if other immunizations are necessary before entering a school building, will the COVID 19 vaccination be mandatory as well? Can someone lose a job because they refuse to get vaccinated? What happens if a student lives at home with someone who has a compromised system? Can that student transmit COVID to a family member if his/her/their teachers are not fully vaccinated?

What about teacher sick leave? If a staff member refuses to get vaccinated, contracts COVID 19, and is out of work indefinitely, does that person have the same amount of sick leave time as someone who has been vaccinated and is protected from contracting the virus? Are there levels of protection for the staff member who has not been vaccinated regardless of the reason why s/he/they chose not to get the vaccine?

What about hiring practices? Can a school declare that all hires going forward must be vaccinated? I know a person cannot be asked why s/he/they chose not to be vaccinated but can that be a prerequisite for being hired as if it is a credential for employment?

Is vaccination status publishable? What happens if a student and his/her/their family refuses to be in a classroom with an unvaccinated teacher? Is that legal? Is that information that can be shared? Does anyone have the right to know if someone is or isn’t vaccinated?

Until we reach herd immunity or a complete control of COVID 19 reactions, these questions are part of our educational landscape. But, regardless of the vaccination status, our schools still must address learning loss and plan for a demanding in-class program; there must be strong remote access and challenging distant learning programming “just in case”; appropriate data driven decision-making with recovery plans are a “must”; strong implementation of effective instructional delivery with appropriate assessment measures are critical regardless of the venue. And, as with all of the above, a viable on-going teacher professional learning model with the support of an instructional coach continues to be a promising practice for a successful learning environment. Many questions ... fewer answers but the one thing we know for sure ... instructional coaches are needed now more than ever!

What do you need to know as you prepare for the new school year?