What is Student-Centered Coaching?

For over a decade, I have been fortunate to work with teachers, coaches, principals, and district leaders from around the country. And through this work, I have watched coaching evolve from a cutting-edge innovation in the early 90’s to a common set of practices that exist in many of our schools today. Though many educators will gladly testify to the benefits of school-based coaching, questions still persist about its effectiveness. I regularly meet many coaches who fret about their impact. They worry that, though they are very busy, they aren’t quite sure how their daily effort is making a difference with students.

Student-Centered Coaching answers these questions by introducing a new way of looking at and delivering school-based coaching across grades K-12 that puts the needs of students’ front-and center. By focusing coaching on specific goals for student learning, rather than on changing or fixing teachers, a coach can navigate directly towards a measurable impact and increased student achievement. Coaches are still busy, but now their efforts are targeted and aligned towards student learning. Key features include:

  • An emphasis on using student data to drive coaching conversations.
  • A clearly defined focus that is based in goals for student learning.
  • Ongoing work with teachers (coaching cycles) that include both time in the classroom and planning conversations.
  • Tools for measuring the coaches impact on both the teaching and student learning.
  • A clearly articulated relationship between the coach and principal.
  • Collaborative teaching approaches such as; co-teaching, modeling instruction, or observing the teaching practice with an eye on how it is impacting students.
  • A collegial relationship that is based on trust and respect towards teachers.
  • A school culture that is oriented towards teacher and student learning.
  • A well designed system for professional development that includes; large group learning, small group collaboration, and one-on-one coaching.

Future posts on this blog will unpack each of these areas and will share specific tools and practices that can be used in your school or district.

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