Atul Gawande, one of my favorite feature writers, published an article in The New Yorker today titled Personal Best: Top athletes and singers have coaches. Should you? (miracle of miracles — it doesn’t appear to be behind a paywall!).

In the article, Gawande (who is also a surgeon) discusses how he had felt he had reached a “plateau” in his surgical skill, and looked at other professions which employed “coaches”:

[Coaching] holds that, no matter how well prepared people are in their formative years, few can achieve and maintain their best performance on their own.

Gawande considers examples of coaching in athletic and non-athletic venues, and writes extensively about the instructional-coaching program run by the Albemarle County public schools in Virginia. There, the program is completely outside the formal evaluation process and completely voluntary.

I’ve written extensively about the coaching program our individual high school runs with Kelly Young at Pebble Creek Labs, and why those two elements — outside the evaluation process and being voluntary — are also critical for its success. I’ll end this post with links those pieces describing what we do but, most importantly, I want to mention that Pam Moran, the Superintendent of the Albenarle County School District, has agreed to answer a few questions I’ve posed to her specifically about the coaching program. I’ll be posting those responses (and possibly thoughts from other staff involved in the program there) shortly, but wanted to get the word out about The New Yorker article quickly.

Here are links to pieces I’ve written about our school’s coaching effort:

There Are Some Right Ways & Some Wrong Ways To Videotape Teachers — And This Is A Wrong Way

Videotaping teachers the right way (not the Gates way)

Why I’m Afraid The Gates Foundation Might Be Minimizing Great Tools For Helping Teachers Improve Their Craft

“Tape and Analysis to Produce Growth, not a Score”