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This module explores coaching as a method to increase the collective capacity of faculty and staff to better meet the needs of all learners. Several models of coaching are used in Ohio schools. The various coaching model are highlighted, with an emphasis on the skills that cut across the identified coaching approaches. The following topics are discussed in module text, linked resources, and embedded videos:

  • Research evidence relating to coaching
  • Coaching as a part of a larger professional development framework
  • Coaching models currently in use
  • Coaching macro and micro practices
  • Coaching skills across all models
  • Coaching and the Ohio Improvement Process
  • Educators’ perspectives on coaching

The content of this module is designed for leaders, regardless of position, who are facilitating school improvement efforts in school buildings, school districts and on a regional level.

The Coaching module aligns with Ohio’s Leadership Framework in the following areas:

  • Area 1 Data and Decision-Making Process
  • Area 2 Focused Goal Setting Process
  • Area 3 Instruction and Learning Process
  • Area 5 Resource Management Process

Discussion Questions

  1. Think about your current role in a school or district (e.g., teacher, principal, assistant superintendent, and so on). How might the following types of coaching help you perform your role more effectively: technical coaching (including modeling and feedback), cognitive coaching, leadership coaching, process coaching, and peer coaching? Which approach would help you the most? Why?

  2. What human relations and communication skills do you already have that would help you function effectively as a coach (that is, if you chose to take on such a role)? What human relations and communication skills might you want to acquire or develop further to help you function effectively as a coach?

  3. If you were to take on the role of coach (e.g., as a peer coach, instructional coach, or process coach), how would you establish a collegial relationship with the colleague to whom you provide coaching? How would you establish initial rapport? What would you do to ensure that both you and the person whom you are coaching start off and remain on equal footing?

  4. When is the use of directive coaching most appropriate? When is the use of non-directive coaching most effective? How might directive coaching backfire? How might non-directive coaching backfire?

  5. What organizational norms and structures are in place in your school and/or district to support on-going use of instructional coaching? What organizational norms and structures in your school and/or district might get in the way of an effort to establish or expand the use of instructional coaching? How might educational leaders modify organizational norms and structures to increase the probability that instructional coaching will function effectively to augment traditional professional development in your school and/or district?


Introductory Activities

  1. Establishing Trust

    For coaching to work well, a school or district needs high levels of trust among the educators it employs. A first step to determine a school or district’s openness to coaching is to assess existing levels of trust. This activity provides a way to assess levels of trust.

    As a BLT or DLT, measure trust levels in your school or district by asking educators to complete Megan Tschannen-Moran’s Comprehensive Teacher Trust Scale: http://wmpeople.wm.edu/asset/index/mxtsch/factrust. Analyze the results by calculating item means and the mean score overall.

    Discuss the results in a BLT or DLT meeting. Do the results reflect high, moderate, or low levels of trust? Do current levels of trust point to the likelihood that coaching will work well in your school or district? If the BLT or DLT determines that trust levels are in the low to moderate range, what steps can be taken to increase trust levels?

    Alternately, if the Comprehensive Teacher Trust Scale will not work well in your school or district, choose a different school climate instrument. Some choices are presented in the document found at the following URL: https://commprojects.jhsph.edu/mci/M10/media/M10_T09_010.pdf.

  2. Tools to Support Collegial Work

    The relationship between a coach and an educator receiving coaching is a critical friend relationship. According to the National School Reform Faculty (NSRF), a critical friend is

    A person with whom one has developed a trusting relationship, who … ask[s] questions intended to offer a new perspectives and encourage development of new thoughts. The conversations are … about the work, not the people doing the work, and the atmosphere is one of mutual trust and encouragement.

    The NSRF provides tools to help critical friends provide support to one another. And educators in coaching relationships will find many of these tools (which the NSRF calls protocols) useful. Either on your own or with TBT or BLT colleagues explore the protocols available on the website of the NSRF (https://www.nsrfharmony.org). You will need to set up an account, but, once you have an account, many of the protocols are free.

    Either on your own or with TBT or BLT colleagues, explore the protocols on the NSRF website and choose one to use. The protocols have different functions, such as helping you collect data, supporting data analysis, and guiding instructional conversations. Choose one to use with TBT or BLT colleagues. After using the protocol, engage in a brief plus-delta discussion to determine what the members of the TBT or BLT think are the protocol’s benefits and drawbacks. Then talk about how the protocol might be used as part of a coaching program at your school or in your district.

Advanced Activities

  1. Choosing What to Coach and in What Ways

    First, think about a new initiative that your district, school, or TBT has recently adopted. It might be a new curriculum, a shared instructional practice, a new approach to managing students’ behavior, or a new way of functioning as an educator team. What steps do you think leaders in the district, school, or TBT have taken to implement the new initiative? Add information to the table below to clarify the steps you think have been taken thus far to incorporate PD into the effort to implement the new initiative.

    What You Think Is Actually Happening

    What is the initiative? What role does traditional PD play in implementing the initiative? What role does coaching play?


    Then, ask members of the TBT, BLT, or DLT to think about the same initiative and the steps they think have thus far been taken to use PD to help implement the new initiative. Complete a second table to record the consensus among TBT, BLT, or DLT members.

    What the TBT, BLT, or DLT Thinks Is Actually Happening

    What is the initiative? What role does traditional PD play in implementing the initiative? What role does coaching play?


    Next, engage members of the same TBT, BLT, or DLT in a discussion about the role PD, including coaching, ought to play in implementing the initiative. If PD and/or coaching are not yet part of the plan for implementing the initiative, work with the TBT, BLT, or TBT to design those parts of the implementation plan.

    What the TBT, BLT, or DLT Thinks Should Be Happening

    What is the initiative? What role does traditional PD play in implementing the initiative? What role does coaching play?


    Finally, in collaboration with others on the TBT, BLT, or DLT, develop a detailed coaching plan to accompany the PD efforts that have been (or will be) put in place to support implementation of the new initiative. The coaching plan should address the following issues:

    • What is the aim of the PD?
    • How will coaching contribute to the accomplishment of the aim?
    • Who will provide coaching?
    • Who will receive coaching?
    • What type(s) of coaching will be used in the coaching sessions?
    • How will the district/school/TBT select coaches?
    • How will the district/school/TBT train coaches?
    • How will the district/school/TBT support coaches?
    • How will the district/school/TBT evaluate coaches?
    • How will the district/school/TBT judge the effectiveness of coaching component of the PD?
    • How will the district/school/TBT judge the effectiveness of the PD overall (including the coaching component)?
  2. Developing Teachers Capacity for Peer Coaching

    Peer coaching can be an effective way to help teachers learn a new instructional strategy. But not all teachers in a school or district have the skills needed to provide effective coaching to one or more of their peers. As a first step toward designing a peer coaching program for your school or district, form a study group to find out more about peer coaching (including ways to help teachers learn how to do peer coaching). Be sure to get the support of district and school leaders before undertaking this work.

    Perhaps start your actual work as a study group with a book study to gain insights from one of the books on peer coaching that this module mentions. Then take steps to put what you have learned into practice.

    At the first meeting of the study group, it’s important to determine what your group hopes to accomplish and the product(s) you intend to develop as a result of your collaborative work. You should also determine what your work will involve and establish a timetable for the work.

    A couple of possible accomplishments and products are listed in the table below.

    Study Group Accomplishments Study Group Products
    A cadre of local “experts” on peer coaching A school-wide plan for helping all teachers develop peer coaching skills
    Trust-building among a small group of educators who will pilot a peer-coaching program in a future semester A peer coaching guidebook to be shared with all teachers who agree to participate in a peer-coaching pilot program;

    Follow through with the study group’s plan and share your accomplishments and products with district and/or school leaders. Using a simple technique like a “plus-delta” reporting process, evaluate the effectiveness of the study group’s work.

You can earn credit and contact hours for modules, webinars, and podcasts completed on the OLAC site.

For more information, visit the Credit Corner. If you’re seeking credit for the Gifted Education Professional Development Course or the Culturally Responsive Practices Program courses, you can find that information on the course overview pages.