Maximizing the Impact of Instructional Coaching for New & Veteran Teachers
In a perfect world, personalized, job-embedded instructional coaching for every single public school teacher would be commonplace. Budget constraints and burnout wouldn’t be a problem, instructional coaches would have the tools and bandwidth to provide meaningful support, and continuous educator growth and student achievement would be a given.
Luckily, despite our imperfect world, we absolutely can provide educators at any level of experience or expertise with the individualized support they need (and deserve) to thrive – whether or not they have regular access to an in-person coach. By adopting an all-in-one tool that optimizes your instructional coaches’ time, facilitates educator growth, and accelerates student achievement, you’ll have a front-row seat to the impact of job-embedded support.
But First, Facing the Realities of a Nationwide Teacher Shortage
As the number of experienced educators resigning in response to immense pandemic-related challenges rises, public school districts around the country are experiencing unprecedented numbers of first-year teachers stepping foot in the classroom. Newark Public Schools, for example, welcomed over 600 new teachers to the district to kick off the 2022-2023 school year. This influx of new teachers means fresh faces, minds, and ideas – an exciting and natural part of our ever-evolving public education system.
On the other hand, new teachers require a level of guidance, attention, and support that third-, fifth-, or twentieth-year teachers don’t. That’s not to say that more experienced educators don’t need support – quite the contrary.
As district leaders face the realities of a nationwide teacher shortage and eagerly usher in a wave of first-year teachers, they must implement individualized educator support that meets the different needs of new, veteran, and transitioning educators.
Through job-embedded instructional coaching, districts can do just that.
The Power of Instructional Coaching
The goal of professional development (PD) has long been to catalyze educator growth and student achievement. Studies show, however, that traditional PD typically doesn’t meet individual needs and hardly ever translates to improved practice in the classroom.
In contrast, smart professional learning that incorporates 1:1, job-embedded instructional coaching has a 95% transfer rate to daily practice, directly leading to improved student outcomes. Instead of one-size-fits-all PD sessions and workshops that may only be relevant to a handful of educators, individualized instructional coaching prioritizes each educator’s specific needs and areas for improvement.
First-year teachers, for example, can receive intentional support on fundamental parts of the job like classroom, behavior, and time management, while more experienced teachers can dive deeper into the instructional best practices they haven’t quite mastered yet.
An essential part of the shift from traditional PD to smart professional learning, instructional coaching provides educators with a reliable support system, ongoing opportunities to grow in their craft, and the tools to adapt and teach confidently for years to come.
Key Strategies to Maximize the Impact of Instructional Coaching
Establish Clear Goals and Objectives
To ensure the effectiveness of instructional coaching for educators, it's essential to set clear goals and objectives that align with the district’s priorities. Coaches must collaborate with district and school leaders to identify areas of improvement and create a roadmap for professional growth. Whether it's enhancing classroom management techniques, adopting innovative teaching methods, or improving student engagement, well-defined goals provide a sense of purpose and direction to the coaching process.
Utilize Data-Informed Strategies
Data-informed decision-making is central to effective instructional coaching. Coaches should collect and analyze relevant data on an ongoing basis, including student performance metrics, classroom observations, and teacher self-assessments. These instructional insights enable coaches to identify areas requiring improvement and tailor instructional coaching strategies to meet individual needs. Data-informed coaching helps teachers recognize their strengths and weaknesses, enabling them to make informed choices to enhance their instructional practices.
Employ Differentiated Coaching Approaches
Recognizing that every teacher has unique strengths and areas for growth, instructional coaches should adopt differentiated coaching approaches because, as we now know, one-size-fits-all solutions often do not yield optimal results. Coaches can instead employ a variety of coaching models, such as cognitive coaching, instructional rounds, or video-based feedback, to cater to individual learning styles and preferences. Customized coaching plans empower teachers to thrive in their professional development journey.
Encourage Reflection and Self-Directed Learning
A vital aspect of the instructional coaching cycle is promoting reflection and self-directed learning. Guide them to analyze their teaching practices and outcomes critically. Encourage educators to set their goals and engage in self-assessment for continuous improvement. Regular reflection sessions help teachers internalize new strategies for effective implementation in classrooms.
Submit Evidence of Learning
When teachers and staff provide evidence of competencies in action in the classroom, coaches are able to monitor and assess teachers' progress to ensure coaching efforts are having an impact on teacher growth and student learning. At the same time, teachers are able to develop their professional portfolios as ongoing evidence of their hard work and commitment to learning.
Provide Ongoing Support and Follow-Up
Instructional coaching is an ongoing process, not a one-time event. It demands sustained support and follow-up. Coaches should always be available to offer assistance, feedback, and guidance to teachers. Regular check-ins and follow-up sessions enable coaches to monitor progress, tackle challenges, and celebrate achievements. This continuous support cultivates a culture of growth, recognition, and collaboration among educators.
How can I implement instructional coaching for all my teachers in the face of staffing & budget constraints?
We thought you’d never ask! With the partner success stories to prove it, we know that our eGrowe Coaching Model works, and we wanted to make it accessible and affordable for as many public educators as possible.
With mySmartCoach, the self-guided coaching system built right into GroweLab, educators at every experience level receive on-demand, individualized instructional coaching that meets their unique needs. Mirroring the in-person coaching experience, educators can select a virtual coach persona that best fits their learning style to guide them through each coaching session.
Then, your educators control when, how, and on which instructional best practices they can receive coaching. Backed by research from 800+ academic studies around methods of instruction and student achievement, coaching sessions in mySmartCoach focus on the best practices proven to have the most impact on the learning environment, student achievement, and teacher retention, including Differentiation & Scaffolding and Standards Alignment.
mySmartCoach gives your educators on-demand instructional coaching and ownership over their professional learning goals based on targeted areas of improvement of their choosing. Adaptable, personalized, consistent, and data-driven, mySmartCoach meets the needs of every educator at every level without adding more to anyone’s plate.
How will I know if instructional coaching leads to educator growth the way it is designed?
Because mySmartCoach is part of GroweLab – the all-in-one instructional coaching and talent development platform from e2L – all educator progress documented during coaching sessions is automatically captured, organized, and analyzed within the platform’s advanced data analytics system. There, school and district leaders can track professional growth analytics, including engagement, growth, and areas for improvement, providing a comprehensive view of educator growth trends.
With mySmartCoach, districts have the ability to import student achievement data to monitor educator and learner growth alongside one another. This capability provides a clear picture of how educator growth and mastery of classroom best practices drives student achievement. It also provides the hard data to show that your investment in job-embedded instructional coaching is producing the right results.
Is mySmartCoach designed to replace in-person instructional coaching?
No way. mySmartCoach is designed to maximize – not replace – the impact of your internal instructional coaches on educator and student growth.
No technology-enabled platform can ever replicate the person-to-person coaching experience. Still, it can fill in the gaps to allow your instructional coaching staff to focus their efforts on high-stakes areas.
By leveraging mySmartCoach to handle foundational coaching sessions, administrative duties, and data analytics, in-person instructional coaches can dedicate their time to the tasks and challenges that demand more attention.
Turning the Tide with Better Educator Support
Whether your school or district is amidst a staffing, budget, or disrupted learning crisis – or any combination of the three – better educator support is the best first step to take toward restoration. With mySmartCoach, you have the tools to give your educators access to the instructional coaching they deserve, your internal coaches the freedom to focus on high-priority issues, and yourself the ability to quantify, celebrate, and report the impact of investing in your educators.