Online College Courses for Credit

2 Tutorials that teach Best Practices for Effective Coaching
Take your pick:
Best Practices for Effective Coaching

Best Practices for Effective Coaching

Author: Trisha Fyfe

In this lesson, you will learn about the three main best practices that underlie effective instructional coaching.

See More

Like what you're learning?

Instructional Coaching

Take the whole course from Capella University FOR FREE


Source: Image light, Public Domain,; Image of ??, Public Domain,; Image of group/community, Public Domain,

Video Transcription

Download PDF

Welcome, I'm Tricia Fyfe. And in today's lesson, I will talk about best practices for effective coaching. As we learn about this topic, we will work towards several learning objectives and will answer the following questions to guide our learning in this video lesson. What are the three main best practices involved in instructional coaching? And what do these best practices look like?

In the past lesson, we explored the best practices for observation. Today, we'll take a deeper look at coaching itself and the best practices for coaching in a way that is effective. We'll start by talking about Robert Marzano. Not only is Marzano the co-founder of Marzano Research Laboratory, he is also a truly inspirational and influential figure in the field of education.

Marzano has looked at instruction and assessment, as well as what makes leadership, including coaching, effective. He's also studied and been influential in the area of school intervention. Here are three main best practices that make up coaching that is effective. According to Marzano, these are establishing trust, providing feedback, implementing choice. We'll dive into each of these best practices of coaching in this lesson.

First, we'll start with establishing trust. Trust is such an essential element to the teacher-coach relationship. Teachers put so much trust in the coach to guide them as they attempt to better themselves as teachers. If we choose other peers that have some of the same philosophies and teaching methods, most likely we'll be on a good path for developing trust with that individual. It might prove to be much harder to find common ground and get past disagreements when we're paired with a peer that has extremely opposing methods and philosophies.

It goes without saying that the stronger our relationships among our fellow teachers, the more trust that we'll see within the entire community of the school. Helping promote positive school culture is just one way that we can encourage conversation that's open and honest and communication that feels safe. One important technique for ensuring that we stay positive and respectful so that we continue to build this trust is active listening. When we listen actively, we essentially paraphrase what is said and ask clarifying questions. We want our peers to feel like we are hearing all of what they said, and feel like we believe all of what they said is valuable and important.

Some active listening techniques to consider are to pay attention and do so with undivided attention. Watch your body language and consider what it is telling the individual that you're speaking with. When you smile or nod, this affirms that you are, in fact, listening and that you care. Clarify what you're listening to with feedback using questions or comments. For example, you can use the phrase, "So what I'm hearing you say is."

Make sure you listen in full to what the teacher has to say. Interrupting can cause frustration and can cause the listener to miss important information. Lastly, be respectful when responding. When you're open and honest, but do so in a way that shows respect, the individual you're listening to feels that their ideas are important and valued. When you respond inappropriately, it can cause frustration and a feeling of disrespect, both of which will get you nowhere in this relationship.

The next best practice that we'll discuss in coaching is providing feedback. Here's a quote that was sited by Marzano, who had the following to say about the importance of feedback. "People need to know whether they're making progress or marking time. Goals help to serve that function, but goals are not enough. It's not enough to know that we want to make it to the summit. We also need to know whether we're still climbing or whether we're sliding downhill."

A coach that's effective is aware of the feedback that they get. They aim to give constructive feedback that's accurate and helpful. This is done so teachers they are coaching understand if progress is being made or not, in reference to their development and instructional practices. If your goal is positive results, it's essential to provide effective feedback. When providing feedback that's effective, be specific. Use what you've observed during instruction to give specific examples. This gives a teacher something to go back to. Focus on the students when giving feedback. How can things be done in a different way that would be more successful in getting to the highest level of student achievement? What is impacting students in a positive or negative way? This is what the teacher needs to know to improve practice.

Give feedback as quickly as possible. Immediately is best. When the teacher can reflect upon what's happened directly after it occurred, the ideas, and reasons, and actions are all fresh. This is when feedback can make the most difference. Consider the "Oreo" technique. This is where you begin with something positive, then address challenges before finishing off with more positives. This will leave the teacher feeling positive, even if you have some suggestions for improvement. Ending with negatives can cause feelings of defeat and frustration.

Lastly, be descriptive when giving feedback. Describe what you saw thoroughly and ask detailed questions about observations. When you're evaluative, it can, again, cause frustration. As coach and teacher, you should be on the same page, and the teacher should not feel like they are being evaluated or judged, but instead supported. You can use guiding questions, such as in the case of the teacher the loses some students when using technology in their lessons. A coach making observations on this could ask, when you ask your students to participate in activities online, when do you notice they are struggling? Do you think that there are students that don't understand the directions fully? What can be done to help?

The third best practice we'll discuss today as far as coaching is promoting choice. Teachers were hired for a reason. They're capable and able to make decisions that allow the best outcomes for their students. That's not to say that they don't need support and ideas. Everyone needs guidance. Everyone has room for improvement. However, it's extremely important to respect the fact that teachers are professionals and can make choices on their own. Often times, it's best for coaches to allow teachers to guide the learning process, making decisions about where they want help. When the relationship between teacher and coach is one of respectful collaboration, this will support the other best practices, establishing trust and providing feedback. All three work together.

Let's say we have a first-grade classroom. The instructional coach is a reading specialist. The coach here models a reading workshop with the teacher in the room. Both teachers are near the front of the room and both are giving directions, asking questions, and giving student feedback, but the coach is doing the actual teaching. After the lesson, the two teachers reflect together. Together they discuss what worked well, what is the next focus. Let's apply those best practices to the scenario.

First, we have establishing trust. In this scenario, the coach is establishing trust by modeling a reading workshop with the teacher together in the room, and allowing the teacher to be up in the front of the room giving directions, asking questions, and helping with student feedback. This is bringing the teacher and the coach together to a level that is the same and equal. It's after the lesson that the coach can give the feedback to that teacher, and they're discussing together in a collaborative nature what worked well and what's the next focus. This also allows for promoting choice, giving the teacher some choice in what should the next focus be.

Let's talk about what we learned today. We looked at the following two questions in this lesson. What are the three main best practices involved in instructional coaching? And what do these best practices look like? Today, we looked at the importance of establishing trust, providing effective feedback, and promoting choice for the teacher in coaching. I walked you through these three best practices of Marzano's, and we applied each of these to an example scenario in a first-grade classroom.

Now you're more familiar with these concepts, let's reflect. What are the benefits of establishing trust, providing feedback, and promoting choice? Have you formed relationships with peers in which you can apply these three best practices? To dive a little deeper and learn how to apply this information, be sure to check out the Additional Resources section associated with this video. This is where you'll find links targeted toward helping you discover more ways to apply this course material.

Notes on “Best Practices for Effective Coaching”


(00:00- 00:24) Introduction/Objectives

(00:25- 01:16) 3 Best Practices for Coaching

(01:17- 03:28) Establishing Trust

(03:29- 06:09) Providing Feedback

(06:10- 06:56) Promoting Choice

(06:57- 08:14) Example Scenario and Best Practices

(08:15- 08:40) Recap

(08:41- 09:11) Reflection 

Additional Resources

Instructional Coaching: The Big 4

This framework and guidebook has been developed by Kansas University. The Big 4 comprises the most important aspects of instructional coaching: classroom management, content planning, instruction, and assessment for learning.

Achieve the Core: Instructional Practice Guide

The purpose of this guide is to provide practice and training to instructional coaches working with teachers to implement instruction aligned to the Common Core State Standards.