Category Archives: 5-B Pre-K-12 Coaching Conversations to Sustain Learning

One to One Coaching to Impact Learning

Coaching is a great professional learning learning experience supporting growth for teachers and for students.  The positive impact of coaching over time is well-documented with  research (Jenny Edwards – Cognitive Coaching,  Cathy Tool, Diane Sweeney, Jim Knight).  At our upcoming LCN study session,  Coaching Conversations to Sustain Learning, Kathy Arlen of Kent City PS  and Marsha Turner of Ionia PS will share their stories of coaching.  Learn:   How  does a teacher connect with a coach for support?  What thinking guides the support a coach offers? How does a coach and coachee monitor success for the students and the teacher?  What are some tips, tools and processes the coach finds supports learning for the coachee?   See you on Thursday!  Laura and Char

Coaching Instruction with Intention – March 10

To Members of the  Study Session Coaching Conversations to Sustain Learning:

Teachers often use rubrics or criteria checklists when conferring with their students.   How might this technique work with coaching colleagues?   Coaching conversations with colleagues are often focused on ways to improve instructional techniques that support success for student learning.  This session we will explore using a criteria checklist or rubric during coaching conversations to clarify  a goal and enhance commitment for success.    You will have guided practice with an authentic coaching conversation that we filmed earlier this week  and have opportunity to practice using a coaching template.  Laura Robinson and Char Firlik

Coaching Cycle: Benefits of having a Coaching Cycle

 Some members asked for the coaching cycle components one more time… 🙂

A coaching cycle is simply a framework, that helps to provide assistance in a systematic way.  Without this framework, I find that it is too easy to begin “bird-walking” down paths that (while fun), do not lead to the change I am working toward accomplishing. The other important point that I really want to emphasize is that….”IT’S NOT  ABOUT YOU”  [sorry, but don’t worry you will come in at the end]. Everything you provide for the teacher is simply based on their wants and needs….so let’s run back through the cycle looking at it from that perspective.


  1.     THE GOAL: “Easy, student-focused, reachable”(Knight, 2015) If “you” (and your wants and needs) begin to creep into goal setting, things will eventually get muddy. Allow the teacher to guide the goal. If the teacher you are working with is not committed to the goal, then when the going gets rough ….the commitment with waver. Trust  me, I have been down the road. They   have    to   “want it”!!!!  As a coach, you are asking the questions to get them there. Make SURE they are passionate about it.

For me, it’s all about the goal [ I do actually sing “it’s all about that goal, ‘bout that goal… ] if the goal is absolutely crystal clear, then I can continue to reference it and hold it when the going gets tough. “Remember, you really wanted the kids to start work within two minutes of arriving in your room”.

  1.       Learn (research): My hip-pocket question: “So, how do you want to proceed from here?”

How they want to proceed tells me A LOT about the person. Do they want to do their own research? Go in and watch another teacher, do they want me to gather information for them? I learn a lot about how they want to operate, at this stage. Again, it’s NOT about me; I will service their needs any way I can!

Remember, we talked about generating a checklist at this point. A simple checklist can help both the instructor, and you, gather the necessary data (they decide what goes on it, you simply ask the questions).

  1.       Improve: This is the point where the data is gathered (probably by the coach, but there are other options, even involving students can be an exciting venture. It demonstrates to students that we are also learners. It also can demonstrate to them how to accept feedback and work on improvement.). I usually just give the data to the teacher and allow them to draw their conclusions. Sometimes, my role might be to ask clarifying questions to help  decide  where they are at.

Just like a walking buddy that shows up at your door to pull you out of the house, even when you don’t feel like it; a coach helps to get teachers working and motivated on their goal. At this point, I become their encourager and biggest cheerleader.

Once the goal is reached, then the teacher (all about them) decides where they want to go now, and again I support them. This leads into….

  1.    Reflection: What worked? What factors contributed to your success? What new learning have you gained and do you want to take with you? How did coaching help the process?
  2.    Celebrate: Again, it’s all about them, and hopefully you have learned a little bit about the person. Would this person appreciate recognition in front of staff? Would they like their supervisor to know of their accomplishments? A note from you? Chocolate truffles? 

You have helped this teacher improve, and who knows how many other students you have affected. Congratulations Coach!

Coaching for Identity


What identity do you hold for yourself when you are coaching?   This was the question posed to me from a coach  to reflect on my work.  The question caught me off guard.  As the coach continued I realized that I was concentrating on developing the tools of coaching but I had not defined my identity as a coach.  I often thought about the ‘doing’ of coaching but not about the ‘why’ of coaching.   Through further reflection I explored many of the values and beliefs I hold about being a coach and about coaching others.  My coaching behaviors changed the more I thought of myself as a coach, they became more focused to support the thinking of the person I was coaching.  As a coach I strive to support others to be self-directed in their work.

Last Thursday, January 7, 2016 we explored how identity impacts learning and growth.  Identity is like a nesting cup that holds one’s values, beliefs, capabilities, behaviors and the environment or context of work. Each level impacts the other. Quality of performance is enhanced when the levels are aligned.  ( Robert Dilts)  It is powerful when a student says…. I am a reader…I am a writer.   Teachers prompt identity when they invite a student to …be writer, reader,…to think like a scientist or mathematician…to be an explorer.  What is the identity you hold for yourself…as a teacher-leader…as a coach…as a teacher for students?  How might you invite students or colleagues to consider their identity?

TIPS – Coaching stems related to identity:

Paraphrasing –  It is important to you…. You believe…

Questioning – What is important to you about____?   As you continue to grow as a _____ what  might you need to learn?


A Learning Lab to Support Coaching

Welcome to our 1st session facilitated by Laura Robinson, instructional coach for KentISD student campus and Char Firlik, Cognitive Coaching trainer. Laura lead us in a Color Connection activity to form a learning lab community and explore our hopes and wonderings around coaching. A reflection activity helped us examine characteristics of an effective coach and create a distinctive ‘coaching lab’ coat. Kay Psencik, senior consultant/coach for Learning Forward, offered 6 Key Traits: self-awareness, honesty, sincerity, competence, reliability, and intentions. ( read pg. 52-57) Laura has created a Google Community blog to keep us connected as learners between our sessions. To be a member of the ‘Coaching Lab’ Community connect with Laura at .