Improving Teaching Practice with Instructional Coaching

Laura Neergaard Booker | Vanderbilt University
Jennifer Lin Russell | University of Pittsburgh

Design Principles for Improving Practice with Instructional Coaching at a Glance

Who are the best candidates to coach and to be coached?

COACHES - Coaches who are skilled in teaching and are able to build trusting relationships with the teachers they coach generate stronger improvements in teaching and learning.

TEACHERS - Teachers who are less experienced and teachers who are more open to being coached benefit most from coaching.

What do effective coaches do?

ACTIVITIES - Planning discussions, observation, and feedback are essential coaching activities

FOCUS - Content-specific coaching in reading and math shows greater effects on teaching and learning than coaching focused on general teaching practices.

FREQUENCY & DURATION - Most studies of coaching include at least several coaching interactions during a school year, though coaching quality likely matters more than quantity.

DELIVERY MODE - Coaching can take place in-person or virtually. Video-recording lessons for coaches can facilitate scaling a coaching program.

What supports do coaches need to be successful?

TIME - Coaches often spend less time coaching than intended. Positioning them as district -level rather than school-level support can help reduce this problem.

PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT - Coaches benefit from opportunities to connect with and learn from their peers, as well as other forms of professional development.

ADMINISTRATIVE SUPPORT - Coaches perform best with strong support from their school and district leadership.