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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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Can Instructional Coaches Be Bosses?

I presented at the Urban Collaborative's Spring Meeting in San Diego, CA today—my presentation will be posted on the coaching website in the near future What I found interesting was that during the post-presentation discussion, there were several people with good questions about how coaches are evaluated, and how the role of the coach is distinct from the role of an administrator.

My belief is that coaches are successful only if they work in partnership with teachers. They and their collaborating teachers need a relationship that is based on trust, and a teacher who is going to do the heavy lifting of reflecting on their teaching practices needs to have the freedom to say what they think with their coach. When people talk to their bosses, to the people that supervise, evaluate and promote them, they often do not speak with that kind of candor. Coaches are most effective when they are not administrators, in my opinion, and based on the questions I heard today at the conference, I sense that a lot of coaches are being pressured to take on administrative roles—which makes it very difficult for them to be effective coaches.

Well I’m not the only one thinking this way. In his book on executive and other forms of coaching, Coaching: Evoking excellence in others, (1999), James Flaherty makes the same point, though more eloquently, stating: “Relationship is the background for all coaching efforts. The relationship must be one in which there is mutual respect, trust, and mutual freedom of expression (p.10).”

Another author makes the same point in Marshall Goldsmiths’ Coaching for Leadership (2000): “The coaching relationship does not seek control; instead it regards the need to surrender to the process of learning as paramount. This requires the creation of rapport or kinship by removing the mask of managerial supremacy (p.134).”

If you’re a coach right now, my guess is that this all makes sense. If you’re new to this kind of professional learning, well this may be a bit tough to accept at first.


Yep, a journal on Instructional Coaching

An Introduction

I plan to use this site to share notes on books, interviews, comments, and observations related to Instructional Coaching. I see this as a letter to my friends and colleagues with whom I'm working in schools across the US. I'll also record some of the questions I'm asking about coaching, and the questions people are asking me. I expect that I will update this at least twice a week. Let me start with a little background info.

I've been studying Instructional Coaching for the past nine years, and while I'd love to tell you that the research has been a systematic pursuit of research questions and careful data analysis, the reality is that I have developed this model out of necessity, out of the desire to make real change happen in schools. Over time, I've learned that to make lasting change happen, you need to have intensive professional development (this is not surprising to you, I'm sure), and I've also learned that Instructional Coaches (ICs) have specific activities that they can do to be more effective.

You can learn about those activities if pick up a copy of the May 2005 Principal Leadership, where you can read an article I wrote on Instructional Coaching, and which provides a very quick overview of what coaching is all about. You can also go to to learn more about what ICs do. You can also download an article I wrote for the Journal of Staff Development @ If you go to the NSDC website, you can find a wealth of other information, but I bet you already knew that.

Stay tuned.

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