Instructional Coaching | Seven Factors For Success | Jim Knight

Jim Knight’s latest book, The Definitive Guide To Instructional Coaching, is a single-volume distillation of Knight’s extensive back catalogue of coaching literature. Jim is without question the founding father of instructional coaching; his dialogical brand of coaching is a powerful model for teacher development. He is the architect of The Impact Cycle, a three-stage framework for instructional coaching, and an influential advocate of the use of high-impact, research-based instructional strategies to improve teachers’ practice.

Knight’s most recent offering proposes seven factors for coaching success:

1 | Partnership

Successful coaches employ the principles of equality, choice, voice, dialogue, reflection, praxis and reciprocity. If coaches see themselves as superior to others, they’ll likely find that others are not interested in hearing what they have to say.

2 | Communication

Good coaching is rooted in conversations that foster growth. Effective coaches build relationships and trust by asking great questions – real questions – and listening both internally and externally.

3 | Leadership

Effective coaches are great leaders. They demonstrate leadership in two areas: leading themselves and leading others. Coaches who lead their own self-improvement build habits that support others to thrive. They are multipliers: increasing the intelligence, energy and capability of those around them.

4 | Coaching Process

Effective coaches employ a coaching cycle. Knight’s Impact Cycle involves three stages. In the Identify stage, the coach partners with the teacher to identify: a clear picture of reality; a goal, and; a strategy that the teacher will implement in addressing their goal. In the Learn stage, the coach works with the teacher to consolidate their understanding of the teaching strategy through dialogical explanation and modelling. In the Improve stage, coaches and teachers collaborate to invent improvements and make adaptations until the goal is met.

5 | Data

Effective coaches support teachers to gather data on engagement (behavioural, cognitive, emotional) attainment and teaching. Data helps teachers and coaches to see more of what is happening in the classroom and to measure progress toward their goals.

6 | Instructional Playbook

Effective coaches have a deep knowledge of high-impact teaching strategies. These strategies can be organised into a playbook that summarises the research, purpose and use of each strategy, as well as including checklists to support implementation.

7 | System Support

Successful coaches work in settings where leaders are intentional and disciplined about providing the system support necessary to enable teachers and coaches to progress toward proficiency.

To sum up…

This book is full of great advice for schools looking to implement a programme of instructional coaching. There’s a greater emphasis on the partnership philosophy explored in Knight’s earlier work, while the logistical elements of running an Impact Cycle are trimmed back (The Impact Cycle book itself is worth its weight in gold). Each chapter concludes with a series of reflective questions for school leaders; these are incredibly valuable as a reference point for those already coaching.

You can buy the book HERE


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