Coaching is a necessary component for promoting teacher confidence and ensuring competence. Coaching is defined as regular, embedded professional development designed to help teachers and staff use the program or innovation as intended.
A 2002 meta-analysis by Joyce and Showers makes a compelling case for the need for skillful coaching. The authors noted that even very good training that included demonstration, practice, and feedback resulted in only 5% of teachers using the new skills in the classroom. Only when training was accompanied by coaching in the classroom was there substantial use in the practice setting.
These findings move supervision, monitoring and support to active coaching processes that are embedded in the learning environment and that support adherence to effective practices and quality instruction. This coaching approach also supports the development of judgment needed to differentiate instruction, use data for decision-making, and engage in evidence-based and evidence-informed instructional and innovation practices. Quality coaching offers critical support for trying out new approaches during that “awkward stage” just after initial exposure through training, and helps teachers and staff persist in developing skill, judgment, and the artful and individualized use of the new practices or programs.
Most skills needed by successful educators can be introduced in training sessions, but really are learned on the job with the help of a qualified and skilled coach who passes on wisdom and knowledge related to the implementation of the program or innovation. A good coach assists the teacher in general ways (e.g., student engagement, lesson planning, teaching to concepts, individualized and differentiated instruction), and actively helps educators acquire new skills and abilities related to the evidence-based approaches.
Coaching ensures that the fragile, uncomfortable new skills are actually tried in practice. As new educators get better and better at using their new skills, they become more artful and confident. The goal is to help new teachers, or teachers who are new to the practices. Coaching is related to fidelity because in many ways, fidelity is one of the important outcomes of quality coaching. Supervision and coaching are integrated with selection and training because the educator will continue to build on what was described in the interview process and what was covered during training. And coaching helps to compensate for the skills and abilities that were not present at the point of hire or that were not mastered in training.
Compentency Driver Activities
Competency Driver Mapping and Action Planning
Map the levels of quality and effort being applied to Competency Drivers for a current program or innovation. This activity will help you with action planning as you zero in on Drivers that can benefit from more effort and/or attention.
Reflection on Selection
Selection of staff, from an Active Implementation perspective, is different from selection as usual in two important ways. Review the two distinctions, and then try to apply the two concepts in your setting or to your initiative.
Coaching for all?
As you are working on building coaching in your team or organization, read the following article. Then, as an individual or with your team, respond to the questions.