Maintaining and Expanding a Coaching Program for Success
Measure Continuous Improvement and Impact
Instructional coaching, at its core, is about continuous progress. It offers teachers personalized support in achieving their individual goal(s) and improving their practices in alignment with broader school and district goals. As part of this effort, teachers need guidance in understanding those school and district goals, identifying their personal goal(s), and understanding ways to measure their progress toward both.
Continuous reflection opportunities between the coach and teacher help track progress toward meeting individual teachers’ goals. But it is also important to have tools in place that systematically measure the progress of coaching in the short term and the impact of the coaching in the long term. This helps teachers, coaches, and administrators understand where they are and where they should go, monitor their progress, measure the quality of their efforts, and celebrate growth.
Tips for success:
- Throughout the school year, collect data on short-term progress. When building or maintaining a coaching program, it’s important that coaches and administrators set frequent checkpoints throughout the year to collect data on coaching progress (e.g., teacher satisfaction, value of different elements of coach support, challenges, and short-term teacher or student growth). For example, coaches could share a brief, anonymous survey with coached teachers at the beginning and end of the coach-teacher collaboration (i.e., pre/post teacher survey). Small focus groups with teachers and/or with students can also shine a light on strengths of a program as well as areas for improvement. Finally, coaches themselves can collect continuous improvement data as part of their coaching logs (e.g., time spent with teachers, types of support used, results of coach-teacher reflections).
- Build in reflection time to review short-term progress data and determine how it can inform continuous improvement. Coaches and administrators should periodically meet to review data and decide on action steps for iteration based on the findings. For example, a coach and administrator might look at pre/post teacher survey responses and see that teachers did not report growth as a result of working with their coach. Based on the context, that trend might show that coaching was not effective. This could occur for various reasons (e.g., a lack of time for one-on-one coach-teacher interactions, lack of teacher buy-in). However, it could also indicate that teachers were overly confident in their abilities before working with the coach and now have a more accurate understanding of their strengths and weaknesses. That’s why it is important to continue tracking progress in the long term. By taking time to interpret data based on the particular context of the school/district, coaches and administrators can hone in on specific areas of improvement and determine next steps for action.
- Measure and reflect on the long-term impact of coaching. Based on the specific goals of the coaching model being used, coaches and administrators should develop a plan to measure the extent to which those goals have been met. In some cases, that might entail collecting baseline data at the beginning of the year to compare with endline data when the school year concludes. Also, it might include comparing data of teachers and/or students who did not benefit from coaching with those who did. The results of this data collection can provide information on how coaching is benefitting teachers and students, and can be used to demonstrate the impact of coaching to other stakeholders (e.g., the school board, the greater community).
- Share findings and celebrate successes. As part of a larger discussion with teachers on the continuous improvement process, share how data is being used to make adjustments to the coaching program. This supports an open and transparent culture that encourages growth and shows teachers that their feedback matters. Additionally, celebrating positive impact data and success stories motivates future participation in coaching and builds buy-in.
The Dynamic Learning Project pilot (DLP) was an instructional coaching program that aimed to help teachers use technology in impactful ways.
To help teachers achieve this goal, DLP researchers and practitioners developed an Impactful Technology Use (ITU) Rubric that (1) defines what ITU looks like, and (2) helps teachers reflect on their progress in ITU. Coaches shared the rubric with teachers when they started their collaboration to discuss the overall goals of the program.
Based on the ITU Rubric, DLP researchers also developed survey questions to measure teachers’ short- and long-term progress in impactful use of technology, including impact on student engagement and learning.
- These questions are designed to measure short-term teacher and student growth in the frequency and efficiency of their ITU.
- These questions are designed to measure long-term teacher and student growth in terms of the frequency of their ITU and its impact on student engagement and learning.
At the end of each coaching period, and again at the end of the school year, DLP coaches and administrators used the data they collected to reflect on teacher growth and make iterations to the support provided by coaches.