What is a coaching cycle and how does it help?
In this blog we will find out everything there is to know about coaching cycles.
- How does it help your clients?
- What are the different types of coaching cycles?
- What are the benefits and drawbacks of each?
We will discuss all this and more.
I will also offer tips throughout this blog on how to take your coaching practice to the next level. At the end of the blog, I also have a free webinar for you. Enroll for it and find out how I can set up your business from scratch.
What is a Coaching Cycle?
This website provides a brief description of a coaching cycle.
Coaching involves an ongoing cycle of goal-setting, learning, observation and data collection, and reflection. Some coaching relationships may enter the cycle at the learning stage. Others might enter through data collection or reflection.
According to this website, a coaching cycle puts a framework in place. This ensures that teachers are improving in the classroom so that students can too.
The term itself refers to a continuous series of steps an instructional coach follows when working with teachers to improve their skill in the classroom. Instead of a linear set of steps, a coaching cycle is circular. This allows for a repetition of these steps and better learning. The teacher gains the skills necessary to be successful on their own.
Who Needs a Coaching Cycle?
If you are an instructional coach, you are familiar with a coaching cycle. What you will take away from this blog are details about how to use it to simplify your life.
According to this blog, there are three core steps of a coaching cycle that help an instructional coach. These steps help co-plan, co-teach and model behaviors.
The blogger says, “as instructional coaches, we’re often tasked with doing lots of things.” This includes planning with teams of teachers; leading committees and enabling professional development. “But one of our most important tasks is working with individual teachers during a coaching cycle.”
Irrespective of the coaching model, it divides the coaching cycle into three parts: before, during, and after. It includes planning, action and revision.
This is in line with what we will analyze next in detail.
What are the Elements in a Coaching Cycle?
Duties included in a coaching cycle vary based on specific needs, according to this blogger. These needs may be of a school district, school building, or the teaching staff. Most coaching cycles include a task list. These include the following activities:
- Goal setting meeting
- Professional development opportunities
- Reflection discussions
- Rounds of practice
Now that you know the tasks that a coaching cycle can help you with, let us also study the options available to you.
How Can You Choose the Right Coaching Cycle?
There are several coaching cycles available that you can choose from. But which one is apt for you and your client?
This website details the pros and cons of each coaching cycle. I have taken the content from here as the points are relevant and researched. The writer has also provided a solution for each of the drawbacks to ease the process for the coach. What I particularly like is a video-based solution for each of the coaching cycles involved.
Coaching Cycle 1: Observation and Feedback
In this coaching cycle, the coach and teacher establish goals for an observation in a pre-conference. The coach then descriptively captures information from the class. The coach then encourages reflection from the teacher. This cycle works well for the coach to make a formative assessment of the teacher’s current practices. It also streamlines feedback for growth.
This coaching cycle allows realistic assessment of a teacher’s current practice.
- It is quicker to organize than other cycles.
- There is a lighter preparation load for teacher and coach
- It encourages personal reflection.
- The power dynamic that evolves as a result of this coaching cycle may make the teacher uncomfortable
- If that happens, coaching may not impact change quickly
Sharing video evidence of the agreed-upon goals can help the teacher see descriptively what happened in the lesson. This enables the teacher to understand rather than have to rely on the coach’s perspective.
Coaching Cycle 2: Modelling
In a model lesson, the teacher and coach switch roles. The coach teaches students in order to explicitly demonstrate instructional strategies for the teacher. The coach still recognizes the teacher as the expert on their content and students. So the coach shares his or her lesson with the teacher prior to class. He/she may also ask for suggestions before teaching.
The coach will also ask the teacher to collect data during the class. Afterwards, the coach leads a reflective conversation with the teacher about his or her vantage point as the observer.
The benefits are pretty obvious, is it not?
This coaching cycle offers a non-threatening way to establish trust between coach and teacher. The teacher can see the impact of strategies on their own students. It is also a great opportunity for the coach to strengthen his/her own practice.
Since the coach designs the lesson, the transfer may be weaker without adequate support for the teacher.
Modelling can create great opportunities for the coach to self-reflect on his or her practice. Interesting videos can be used for showing additional teachers instructional practices on a school web page or as part of professional development. The coach could also video himself or herself teaching a class in the teacher’s absence. This helps the teacher see how the students behave when the teacher is not there.
Coaching Cycle 3: Planning and Co-Teaching
During this cycle, the focus is on the content students must learn. Coaching is focused upon standards, curriculum, and instructional sequence. The teacher and coach collaboratively plan the lesson. They decide which role each will take in delivering the lesson to students. The coach may be more or less involved. This depends on the goals and needs of the classroom teacher. Afterwards, the teacher and coach debrief each other. They discuss how well the lesson helped students learn the content, and then they discuss the strengths and weaknesses of each lesson.
- It allows a team-oriented approach as both coaches and teachers are deeply invested in the success
- The coach is allowed to be deeply involved in the teacher’s professional growth
- This cycle has great potential for coaching and reflection in the process of teaching.
- It is more difficult to collect objective data on goals
- This coaching cycle requires much more time and commitment for both the coach and the teacher.
Videos of the lesson could enable the teacher and coach to reflect together. Video supplies data that is difficult to capture while co-teaching.
Coaching Cycle 4: Group Reflection
Group reflection may take the form of instructional rounds, lesson study, or another format. The coach leads a group of teachers in the pre- and post-conference process. One host teacher identifies a new practice or a potential problem. He or she invites peers to give feedback on that focus, usually through a few questions. The coach helps set the focus for the group. The peers make notes about the host teacher’s questions during the class. The coach facilitates a discussion about the lesson with the peer teachers, while the host teacher makes notes. Then the host teacher is invited to reflect.
- The host teacher receives feedback from colleagues in the field
- The host teacher can hear a variety of perspectives
- Group reflection can positively build the school culture.
- Other teachers may potentially offer unsolicited feedback leading to ego clashes
- Organizing meeting times with multiple people can be difficult.
Video can be used when teachers’ schedules do not allow them to visit classes in person.
These are just a few pointers mentioned in this website. There are quite a few types of coaching cycles. The merit of each differs based upon the situation.
We all know that the primary job of a coach is to help the client. Clients come with unique needs and you will need to cater to each case individually.
Steps for Creating a Coaching Cycle
There are several questions that you may have while designing a coaching cycle. Some are mentioned here:
- A number of members in the group. How many teachers will you be comfortable within one group?
- Feedback frequency. How many feedback meetings should you schedule each week?
- Should you set-up face-face feedback meetings? Or should you use email/video?
The website also provides informative info graphics. Do take a look.
Some of the steps mentioned for drafting the coaching cycle include:
- Logistics about members in the group: How many teachers should there be in each group?
- Communication. How will you invite the teachers? The website recommends friendly emails.
- Meeting details.
Working with a Coaching Cycle
How can instructional coaches gain maximum benefits from using a coaching cycle?
You can make the best use of your skills and tools such as the coaching cycle by having the right attitude!
What are the skills you can bring to the table?
Traits of a successful coach
There cannot be a “one size fits all” trend in coaching. This is because the clients are as diverse as possible and their needs are varied.
Add to this the uncertainty of the current times and you have an additional problem to reckon with. But you can still succeed as a coach!
Let us look at some traits that can help you develop a winning attitude as a coach.
- Big picture person. Some people are able to remember the end goal through every hurdle they encounter. Others focus on the minute details and work on the belief that the “devil lies in the details”. There is no right or wrong belief in this. However, while using the coaching cycle, it is best that you adopt the “big picture vision”. This will help you see the end result that working with the cycle will help you achieve.
- Collaborative mindset. More than anything else, you must be able to believe in the power of collaboration. This is your biggest takeaway from using the coaching cycle. The tool will only help if you believe that it will unite teachers and the school community for the benefit of the children. If you are able to believe in this vision, you will have a tremendous influence on your client.
- Learning with an open mind. The coaching cycle will help teachers learn a corrective course of action. However, learning new behaviors are always a challenge. Unless you are able to model an open attitude towards learning, it is unfair to expect it from the teachers.
Although these are only a few traits, they will go a long way in ensuring your success as an instructional coach.
Did you enjoy reading these? I have some other blogs that you will also find useful if you want to become a successful coach. In a previous blog Top 10 Coaching Skills You Must Have as a Life Coach, I have mentioned some important qualities.
Resources for Creating Coaching Cycle
There are several resources online to help you create an effective coaching cycle. Some of them are listed here:
- https://us.corwin.com/en-us/nam/coaching-cycle-what-does-it-look-like: offers a video and short infographic on what coaching cycle looks like.
- https://www.pinterest.com/Kathy_Perret/instructional-coaching-books/ offers a list of books for instructional coaches.
- This website lists some helpful resources for instructional coaches. This is a great resource for different tools that instructional coaches can use, including the coaching cycle.
You may also want to look up some books on instructional coaching. These will provide you with a lot more information and tools like the coaching cycle.
Books for Instructional Coaching
Here are some relevant books for you online. Do look them up and let me know if you enjoy any of these.
This website lists the 5 instructional coaching books you should read. The author also provides a short but detailed review. The books he mentions are:
- The Impact Cycle. What Instructional Coaches Should Do to Foster Powerful Improvements in Teaching. Few professional texts can rival the impact of Jim Knight’s Instructional Coaching. In it, Jim had bridged the long-standing divide between staff room and classroom. He offered a collaborative, respectful, and efficient PD model for achieving instructional excellence. Now, a decade later, Jim takes that work a significant step further. The book offers an all-new instructional coaching cycle to help teachers. This, in turn, will help students improve in clear, measurable ways. The Impact Cycle comes loaded with every possible tool to help you reach your coaching goals. It has a comprehensive video program, robust checklists, and a model Instructional Playbook.
- Student-Centered Coaching: The Moves 1st Edition. Student-centered coaching is an effective, evidence-based coaching model. It shifts the focus from “fixing” teachers to collaborating with them. It also designs instruction that targets student outcomes. But what does this look like in practice? This book shows you the day-to-day coaching moves. These moves build powerful coaching relationships.
- The Leader′s Guide to Coaching in Schools: Creating Conditions for Effective Learning. Help your staff get “unstuck” no matter what challenges they are facing. Solutions-focused coaching techniques will help them envision the desired outcomes. They will then focus on the actions needed to achieve them. Through video examples and tools, this step-by-step guide shows readers how to:
- Introduce a coaching approach into a wide range of conversational contexts
- Use the GROWTH coaching conversation framework. This improves both staff and students’ success and well-being
- Use coaching approaches in areas that school leaders find challenging. These include informal performance reviews and when working with teams
- Instructional Coaching in Action: An Integrated Approach That Transforms Thinking, Practice, and Schools. ECIC offers respectful coaching for professionals within their school-wide community. Drawing on their extensive experience with ECIC, the authors offer this detailed guidance. The book provides valuable insight from coaches. It demonstrates how educator-centered instructional coaching can make a difference. The beneficiaries are the teachers and students.
- The Art of Coaching: Effective Strategies for School Transformation 1st Edition. This book is a hands-on resource for new and old school coaches. This practical resource offers the foundational skills and tools needed by new educators. It also presents an overview of the knowledge and theory base behind the practice. Established coaches will many ways to deepen and refine their coaching practice. Principals who incorporate coaching strategies into their work will also find it useful. Aguilar offers a model for transformational coaching. This can help professional development in schools or districts anywhere. Her model maintains a student-centered focus although she addresses the needs of adult learners. There is a specific lens on addressing equity issues in schools. It is a practical resource for coaches, principals, district leaders and other administrators. It presents a transformational coaching model which addresses systems change. It pays explicit attention to surfacing and interrupting inequities in schools. The Art of Coaching: Effective Strategies for School Transformation offers school coaching ideas. The book’s structure enhances the ability to access information.
You may also want to look up this helpful list of books for instructional coaches mentioned here.
You may also want to look up this helpful list of books on GoodReads.