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This website contains ideas that are "in process." Simply put, what you read here may be just some random thoughts, rather than validated and final procedures. Mind you, aren't most ideas "in process?" The bulk of what you'll read here are answers to questions I am emailed or asked during presentations, or summaries of excellent ideas others share with me.

Of course, you can add to this blog by leaving your own comments, too.

You can learn more about Instructional Coaching at www.instructionalcoach

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Next instructional coaching conference is just around the corner

It seems hard to believe, but this year’s Instructional Coaching Conference is less than two months away, scheduled for October 27 – 29, 2014 at the Oread Hotel in Lawrence, Kansas.

We’ve had some amazing people present over the years, but this year might be our best. Many of my heroes will be presenting on various aspects of coaching including internationally recognized coaching expert Joellen Killion, who has written numerous books on coaching for Learning Forward; Christian Van Nieuwerburgh, from London, England who has a new, incredibly useful book, An Introduction to Coaching Skills; Jamie Almanzán, who is one of our leading experts on coaching and cultural literacy; and John Campbell, an expert on coaching in Australia and the developer of Growth Coaching Model. Rebecca Frazier will be sharing her research on the characteristics of effective coaches, and Marti Elford will be giving presentations on her research on Bug-In-The-Ear Instructional Coaching, her absolutely fascinating work studying Instructional Coaching done with the use of Avatar technology, and her work introducing coaching to Zambia.

We also have an amazing and diverse group of instructional experts who will be presenting more broadly about teaching and learning including, one of the best presenters I’ve ever seen, Marcia Tate, who will be talking about what coaches need to know about engaging students. I’m thrilled that one of our presenters is Donalyn Miller, who is the author of my favorite book about reading, The Book Whisperer. David Ross from the Buck Institute, arguably the world’s leading Center studying Project-Based Learning, will be discussing what coaches need to know about PBL. 

I will be presenting our most recent research including an update on the revised coaching cycle that I’m writing about right now for my upcoming Coaching Cycle book, the tools to be released in the Better Conversations Communication Workbook slated to be released soon, and our research studying how to coach coaches. I’ll also be offering quick reviews of how coaches can use the resources in Focus on Teaching and High-Impact Instruction to improve teaching and learning. 

There will be a lot of free tools, and for the first time, we’ll be offering a limited number of free one-to-one coaching sessions for leaders who want to look at how they can better create highly effective coaching programs.

You can read more about the conference here:

You can register here:


Questions for Unmistakable Impact

Teresa Simmons sent me these questions for those who are discussing Unmistakable Impact.  I think they are great questions, so I am sharing them here for anyone who might be interested:

Impact Schools

1. What does it look like when we provide an  environment where our teachers are "energized, thrilled, and empowered by learning?"

2. How do we move closer to a professional learning community that empowers teachers to embrace proven teaching methods?


1. After experience a few years of change with the CLC initiative, where are we (JRHS) as a whole in the "states of change" mentioned on page 21?

2. What does a partnership approach look like? How do we respond in a partnership approach when members of the group say "no"?

3. Which partnership principle is most critical? Which one is the challenging to follow?


1. How do you feel about the Target idea? How can every educator be provided with an opportunity to have authentic input into the document?

2. How important is it for the principals to be the first learner in their schools?

Instructional Coaching

1. How would the use of the Target improve coaching?

2. What are the most important attributes of a coach?

3. Why are some of our teachers "resistant" to coaching? How can that be changed?

Workshops That Make an Impact

1. How can the partnership approach improve the effectiveness of a workshop?

2.  On page 169, at the bottom of the page, there is a comment about what separates great teachers from the rest. Refer to this and tell us what you think.

Intensive Learning Teams

1. What are you thoughts about the ILTs and the procedures described on page 177?

Partnership Communication

1. How can all faculty members be encouraged to honor the partnership principles?

2. Review the "bids" section starting on page 230. How important are "bids" in life? in the workplace? in the classroom?


Video clips

Playing For Change | Song Around the World


Maurice Cheeks-National Anthem


Lost Generation 


 Paul Potts


WKRP: Venus Explains the Atom


Somewhere in the Irish Sea


Retriever Dog Stays Dry



Radical Learners

I have started a new blog, Radical Learners.  In order to focus on getting it up and running, I am going to pause my writing on this blog for a short while.   You can find the new blog, Radical Learners, at this link.  I'm including my first post here, in the hopes that you will be inclined to check out Radical Learners:

Radical Learners: 

The people who will save our schools are not the policy makers, or educational researchers, or text book developers, or consultants, or anyone else who works outside of a school.  Our schools will be saved by the teachers, principals, superintendents and other educators who live to learn.  This new group, people I call radical learners, is emerging in schools all across the world.  They are people who are driven by learning, who get up in the morning fired up to try something new, to make a difference, to teach and learn. 

Radical learners are everywhere.  Often alone, they stand up for kids in board meetings, the principals office, and the staff lounge, but mostly they stand up for kids in their own classrooms. They are creating PLNs, grapping good ideas off of Twitter, writing, reading and sharing good blogs, reading new thinkers like Godin, Gladwell, and Pink, and old thinkers like Friere, Dewey, and Mason. Radical Learners are loving people who will not let schools let kids down. They work the system to make it better, and kinder, more loving, more equitable, more challenging and supportive. They work really hard because they know how much learning matters.

Who are the radical learners?

Radical Learners:

  • believe we are here on earth to learn, so they are turned on by every chance they get to discover something new
  • use technology to learn, to teach, or lead (and because it’s cool)
  • have hope because they know that to teach without hope is to damage, but to teach with hope can save the world
  • love the members of their PLN
  • have mentors and coaches
  • mentor and coach others
  • are witnesses to the good
  • are brutally honest about what is really happening in their classroom and would welcome any visitor who could help them improve
  • don’t blame others but accept personal responsibility 
  • infect everybody with their love of learning, most importantly the children they teach
  • make a difference

 Are you a radical learner?

If you are interested, please check out Radical Learners and let me know what you think.


Should Coaching be Confidential?

In most types of coaching, whether life coaching, executive coaching or instructional coaching, the practice of coaching occurs within confidential relationships. There are at least three reasons for this.  

            First, when coaches deal with what matters to teachers, they are privileged to see and hear information most others will not see and hear.  To share that private information with others is a violation of a person’s privacy. Second, coaching is much more productive when collaborating teachers are open about their ideas, thoughts, and fears. For many teachers knowing that coaching conversations are confidential makes it easier for them to talk about what really matters.  Third, when we ensure that coaching is confidential, we increase the chances that teachers will choose to work with a coach.

However, not everything a coach does, can or should be confidential. For example, coaches need to keep principals informed of whom they are working with and what they are working on. ICs working with the Kansas Coaching Project discriminate between what should and should not be shared by saying that coaches do not share data or evaluative information. We communicate clearly to teachers that coaching is nonjudgmental.  Coaches are partners helping teachers learn new practices, not evaluators. Indeed, in most cases ICs have no administrative training on how to evaluate teachers, so it would not be appropriate for them to evaluate teachers anyway.

In some schools confidentiality is not an issue.  In especially positive, safe settings, teachers may be more than comfortable having their coach share any information.  Indeed, Michael Fullan (2008) identifies transparency as one of his six secrets of change, stating that “when transparency is consistently evident, it creates an aura of ‘positive pressure’ - pressure that is experienced as fair and reasonable, pressure that is actionable in that it points to solutions, and pressure that ultimately is inescapable” (p. 14).

            To create settings where such transparency is possible may require baby steps.  In a culture where there is not a great deal of trust, confidential coaching can be the default mode, but over time, if teachers agree, more information can be shared. The greater the lack of trust initially, the more important confidentiality usually is.  What is most important is that principals and coaches clearly delineate what they will and will not discuss, communicate that policy across the school, act consistently with the policy. Perceived betrayal of trust can severely damage a coaching relationship. For example, when a teacher says something to a coach that she think will be kept privately by the coach, and then discovers that what she said was shared with others, it may be impossible for the coach to ever win back the teacher’s trust.

This is the first of several weekly excerpts from my new book, Unmistakable Impact: A Partnership Approach for Dramatically Improving Instruction.  There will be one post a week up until the book is released in November.