Instructional Coaching: A Partnership Approach with Jim Knight

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Leaders are finding that instructional coaching programs, often carried out by experienced teachers, are an incredibly effective way to help improve instruction at school.

Stacy Cohen is an instructional coach at Topeka West High School in Topeka, Kansas.

“The role the coach plays in the building is really determined by the principal,” Cohen says. “Sometimes I think it involves how much principals understand about coaching, how informed they are. At the middle school level, I often play the role of counselor to teachers. So, you be a counselor, shoulder to cry on, and cheerleader to help them on a bad day.”

Sherry Eichinger, an instructional coach at Cecil County Public Schools in Elkton, Maryland, talks about the coach’s role in observing teachers.

“I think, as a coach, the only way I can support a teacher is by getting in the classroom with the teacher, whether it's through videotape or it's my own thoughts through observation. I like allowing them to see their classroom through a different lens.”

“The thing about coaching is it's all about relationships,” adds Michelle Harris, Title 1 Instructional Specialist. “If you're not in the hallways, you’re in the classrooms talking to the teachers, building those relationships, showing them that they can trust you and that you, most of the time, know what you're talking about. It's very, very difficult.”

Instructional Coach and RTI Specialist Susan Leyden, agrees that relationships are key to coaching.

“I think we're really fortunate that there are two of us. We are lucky to have this kind of model where there are two coaches in one building not only because we're such good friends, but because we're able to coach each other and ask each other for advice. Anything that we do has been influenced by the other person. It's a better product at the end.”