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Instructional Coaching Benefits and Best Practices

Instructional Coaching Benefits and Best Practices

Author: Trisha Fyfe

This lesson details the role and responsibilities of the instructional coach.

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Welcome. I'm Tricia Fyfe, and in today's video lesson, we'll look at the lesson titled Instructional Coaching Benefits and Best Practices. As we learn about this topic, we will work towards two main learning objectives and we'll use the following questions to guide our learning. What are the benefits of instructional coaching? And what are the best practices in instructional coaching?

We'll start off today's lesson by talking about the impact and benefits of instructional coaching. Current research and knowledge that stems from clinical sources is what grounds instructional coaching. There are various areas that benefit from instructional coaching including development of instructional skills, reflection, change in the culture of school, and collaboration. We'll talk about each of these.

First, instructional coaching can assist in development of instructional skills for teachers. These teachers begin to integrate what they've learned more often, and these skills often become ingrained in the teachers. Oftentimes, skills will be applied to all relationships of those teachers, including those with peers and their own students. Teachers who work with instructional coaches are able to have opportunities to practice and learn in contextualized ways.

Teachers also benefit from the opportunities for reflection. Coaches encourage this skill, and teachers greatly benefit from reflection. It's such an important piece to teaching.

Sometimes we see a change in the culture of the school when instructional coaching is put into place. The benefits of coaching go far beyond supporting the teacher in just the classroom. Instructional change is supported, and often this stems from improvement efforts that are school-wide, not just efforts of individual teachers. Yet another benefit to coaching is collaboration. Professional growth opportunities are stressed by instructional coaches, and collaboration and building of successful relationships is encouraged within the educational community.

Everyone involved benefits from instructional coaching. Teachers can work together to share ideas, communicate what is working and what is not working, and establish best strategies and techniques for teaching that will work the best for them. The goal here is for educators to encourage and drive each other, therefore reducing that feeling of being on your own as a teacher in the classroom setting.

So let's talk about those best practices in instructional coaching. We'll look at the areas of approach, feedback, relationship, honesty, and trust. First we'll talk about approach. There has been much research done as far as instructional coaching goes, and the research indicates this type of coaching relationship should have components that are related to the school itself, as well as pieces that are brought into the teacher's job. The coaching relationship should also expand teachers' theoretical knowledge.

There should be defined roles and expectations. For example, focus should be on adult learning, using a guided content-based approach. Coaches should also encourage choice in teachers. What does the teacher wish to improve upon? What do they need to get them there?

The learning environment must be professional and focused on the school. Data and evidence should assist in informing learning, and coaching should highlight this data and evidence. Feedback is another area to consider as far as best practices go. This, of course, is an essential component of instructional coaching. When giving feedback, to coach should focus on content, and the teacher should be able to use the feedback in the classroom.

Adult learning theories are important to recognize and use as a coach. How do the teachers you work with learn best? Feedback must be constructive and accurate. This is the only way that teachers will truly know if they're making improvements and progressing in efforts to maintain excellence. And feedback should also be specific. It must be descriptive and offer a thorough explanation and ideas. It's essential for feedback to be given in a timely manner that is non-evaluative, as well.

Finally, the focus of feedback should always be on the end goal-- the students and their achievement. A teacher and coach work closely together in instructional coaching. Therefore, it's essential to develop collaborative, respectful relationships here. Both individuals must remain professional for success to happen.

Honesty is critical to any relationship and it's no different to instructional coaching. Both individuals must have the same level of investment in being professional and in improving instruction. Both teacher and coach should communicate honestly, openly, and professionally when giving and receiving feedback. Establishing a trusting relationship is the most critical element to the relationship between teacher and coach. The research here has been done, and it implies that K through 12 teachers believe that this is true.

One of the best practices for instructional coaching is transparency with regards to the process for coaching. Building a trusting relationship can be hard work and takes dedication. Open feedback that's honest is essential. It's helpful that the instructional coaching relationship is non-evaluative. Because of this, the process of developing trust can go more smoothly. There's no feelings of being judged. Collaboration is key, and it's important for both individuals to be professional here. It's also important for the teacher to share successes and share failures. This is much easier for the teacher to do if there is trust established.

Let's talk about what we learned today. We looked at the following questions-- what are the benefits of instructional coaching? And what are the best practices in instructional coaching? In this lesson, we explore the areas that benefit from instructional coaching, including encouragement to reflect and collaborate, increases in instructional skills, and creation of cultural change within schools.

We also talked about the best practices for instructional coaching, including approach, feedback, relationship, honesty, and trust. Now you're more familiar with these concepts, let's reflect. Consider a time you were involved in or watched instructional coaching. What were the benefits and challenges of this process?

Thanks for joining me today in discussing the lesson Instructional Coaching Benefits and Best Practices. I hope you found value in this video lesson and are able to apply these ideas and concepts to your own teaching. As you reflect on this new information and how it can be applied, you may want to explore the additional resources section that accompanies this video presentation. This is where you'll find links to resources chosen to help you deepen your learning and explore ways to apply your newly acquired skill set.

Notes on “Instructional Coaching Benefits and Best Practices”


(00:00- 00:22) Introduction/Objectives

(00:23- 02:18) Impacts/Benefits of Instructional Coaching

(02:19- 05:25) Best Practices for Instructional Coaching

(05:26- 05:55) Recap

(05:56- 06:36) Reflection 

Additional Resources

Critical Friends: The Benefits of Instructional Coaches

This Education Week article reviews the importance of building trust and collaboration in instructional coaching.

Instructional Coaching: Plan, Observe, Reflect

This Teaching Channel video outlines the benefits of instructional coaching for teachers.