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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.

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I have been deep into writing my book on Instructional Coaching, and that has kept me away from sharing what has been happening in my intellectual life and the life of the many wonderful coaches with whom I've been working. However, as I work on a chapter on Partnership Communication, I can not help but write to tell you how impressed I am with William Isaac's book Dialogue. There are many useful books on dialogue, but, in my opinion, Isaac's is much more profound and sophisticated in its thinking than the others I have read (though David Bohm's tiny book On Dialogue is also an outstanding book of a different sort). Isaac's book is not an easy read since it is not superficial, but it is filled with strategies, wisdom, and it embodies the partnership philosophy that I see as being at the heart of Instructional Coaching.

Here, to give you a very tiny sample, are just two quotations I gathered while writing about listening as a part of Partnership Communication:

"One lens that can reduce the temptation to blame and increase respect is to listen to others from the vantage point that says, 'this too is in me.' Whatever the behavior we hear in another, whatever struggle we see in them, we choose to look for how these same dynamics operate in ourselves" (p. 124).

"Respect is not a passive act. To respect someone is to look for the springs that feed the pool of their experience" (p.110).


Getting Teachers on Board for Coaching

If you’re an Instructional Coach diving in to a new year, you may be wondering how to get started with your teachers. For years, professional developers from the Kansas University Center for Research on Learning have been opening the door to professional learning by conducting one-to-one interviews.

Leona Hunt is an elementary Reading First Instructional Coach in Florida who tried the interview process with her teachers. Here’s what she had to say about it:

“I promised to email you back after conducting the interviews…. I spent most of the year, last year, building trust with the staff. The interviews totally disarmed the teachers. I felt like I was truly able to see into their "hearts"…

The teachers communicated that they had felt very alone until last year. They expressed positive feelings, overall, about the Reading First initiative. They cited "support" as the most helpful issue about Reading First...NOT the money. I was shocked by that. Also, the teachers said they wanted staff dev. to be something that can be put into action "tomorrow." The most prevalent "need" was student ready activities and strategies. This theme repeated itself over and over in other categories, too…

They were grateful for the modeling I had done last year and asked me to continue this practice. Overall, I gained so much info. I feel like I am much more prepared to face the year...

One last thing...I was able to explain the coaching process, asking them how they are most comfortable receiving feedback. EVERYONE gave me the green light to work as a coach with her. They also were exposed to the truth that I want to walk beside and guide them, not report or "spy" on them. I loved meeting on an individual basis just for the personal touch, as well!”

If you’re interested in learning more about using interviews as part of the Instructional Coaching enrolment process, I’d be happy to send you a send you an article that describes how the whole process works. Just send me a quick message with a request for the paper, and I’ll send you an electronic copy.


Tools for Instructional Coaches

In our work studying Instructional Coaching we are continually creating forms and other documents to make it easier for people to do the good work of Instructional Coaching. Many of these forms are now on line, available for free download at the tools section of our instructional coaching website. If you try these out and they are helpful, or not, please let us know by emailing me, Jim Knight, and if you have developed others tools that you'd like to share with coaches around the country, please let me know so that I can make them available at on our website.


Some very good news!

I am thrilled to report, to all of you who are familiar with the Pathways to Success project in Topeka, that we just won a GEARUP grant for the next six years. The grant puts Instructional Coaches at the heart of school reform in all six middle schools, and provides for many other services to help all students in Topeka.

Kansas University has sent out a press release where you can read more about the grant if you're interested.


Can we keep the term coach?

In the past year, my colleagues and I have struggled with whether or not we should use the term coach. The idea of a coach, for some of us, seemed to conjure up very negative images--say, angry men throwing chairs across the court. However, if you go to the NBA website and watch this clip of Maurice Cheeks, you might get another perspective on the concept of what a coach can be. I'm grateful to Anita Friede, a great professional developer from NYC, for pointing out this clip to me. Maybe coach is the right term for the work we do in schools.