Monday / April 22

The 7 Steps To Become an Effective Coach

Being a successful coach starts with a clear understanding of how to implement the strategies that empower teachers and put the needs of students front-and-center. But, they can’t do it alone. Administrators, school leaders, and teachers need to have a thorough understanding of what it takes to be an effective coach in order to get the most out of their students and allow collaboration to thrive.

Below you’ll find seven easy steps that will provide direction for developing a comprehensive coaching foundation that enriches teaching practices and improves student performance.

  1. Utilize Coaching Cycles

Short-term initiatives for professional development do little to improve student learning. We can go deeper and get more out of coaching by utilizing coaching cycles. Coaching cycles provide ongoing job-embedded professional development that is data-driven. This approach to coaching enables teachers to develop their skill in delivering instruction that moves student learning forward.

  1. Set Standards-Based Goals

To drive your coaching cycle, first develop some goals around student learning outcomes rather than teacher conduct. Using standards-based goals anchors the coaching cycle and maintains a focus on moving student learning forward. Being intentional about the goals you set establishes learning priorities and allows you to identify and track student growth.

  1. Unpack the Goals into Learning Targets

As introduced in step two, establishing learning goals creates criteria for measuring student growth and setting the coaching cycle up for success. Take your standards-based goals and break them down into a collection of student-friendly learning targets. By doing this you provide a vision and a roadmap for what students will learn and be able to do by the time they reach their learning goal.

  1. Co-Plan With Student Evidence

Using student evidence enables teachers and coaches to work together in making informed instructional decisions. Successful coaches assess the patterns of each student’s work to ensure that instruction is tailored to students’ needs. Equipped with student evidence, teachers and coaches can evaluate exactly what students need and use that information to help them reach their established goals.

  1. Co-Teach Using Effective Instructional Practices

Effective coaching is based on a partnership approach in which the teacher and coach work side-by-side with students. The coach and teacher should be in the mix, reflecting on their decision-making, and adjusting for student need throughout the class session. Checking in with each other periodically ensures the accuracy of the process and determines the fate of student success.

  1. Measure the Impact on Student and Teacher Learning

Coaches can evaluate their impact by looking directly at student performance to see if students met the learning goal that was set at the beginning of the cycle. This method of evaluation allows coaches to assess whether engaging in a coaching cycle was an effective use of time that made a lasting impact on instruction. Measuring the impact of coaching provides rich feedback for ongoing learning and professional growth.

  1. Partner With the School Leader

Coaches cannot be effective without the support of their school leaders. The relationship between coaches and school leaders is a long-term investment that ensures a lasting impact on students. Developing the partnership between the coach and principal is essential to embracing and nurturing the role of coaches in driving teacher and student growth.


Learn More About Being an Effective Coach

For more information on how to build a foundation for effective coaching, download the free guide below. This guide will help you:

  • Examine coaching approaches and see how they compare
  • Learn how to remove common barriers to coaching effectiveness.

Discover More About Effective Coaching!


Written by

Diane Sweeney has been a national consultant since 1999. After teaching and coaching in the Denver Public Schools, Diane served as a program officer at the Public Education & Business Coalition (PEBC) in Denver. She has become a respected voice in the field of coaching and professional development. Diane is the author of Student-Centered Coaching: A Guide for K-8 Coaches and PrincipalsStudent-Centered Coaching at the Secondary Leveland Student-Centered Coaching: The Moves.

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