Instructional Coaches Should ‘Center on a Strengths-Based Approach’ is the five part series at my Education Week Teacher column.


Atul Gawande’s feature article The New Yorker this week, Personal Best: Top athletes and singers have coaches. Should you?, has sure sparked a lot of discussion this week on instructional coaches. I thought I’d bring together a few of what I consider the best resources on the topic.

One thing I have found in my research is that it’s pretty scary what’s being done in the name of “instructional coaching” these days. As a community organizer for twenty years prior to becoming a teacher, it reminds me of some of the awful stuff done in the name of community organizing!

From my perspective, effective instructional coaching needs to be voluntary, outside of the formal evaluation process and relationship-based. And resources on this list must meet those same criteria. Feel free to offer additional suggestions.

Here are my choices for The Best Resources On “Instructional Coaching” (in addition to The New Yorker article, of course):

I did an interview with Pam Moran, the Superintendent of the District featured in Gawande’s article. It is, be far, the most important piece on instructional coaching I’ve seen.

Doctor’s Orders: Fund Teacher-Coaching Programs is from Teacher’s Now at Education Week.

Now, This Is What I Call Professional Development! is the first post I wrote on The New Yorker article.

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”

I have a lot of respect for Elena Aguilar, who works as an instructional coach in California. Here are links to some of her articles on the topic:

Four Conditions Essential for Instructional Coaching to Work

Five Things to Consider Before Becoming an Instructional Coach

Four Conditions Essential for Instructional Coaching to Work

Here’s a link to her blog on instructional coaching.

Coaching Teachers: What You Need to Know

Coaching is Good for Doctors and Teachers Both is by John Thompson.

This Is A Good Example Of Being A Bad Instructional Coach

Thanks to Farnam Street, I learned about this video of a talk Atul Gawande gave to a school of education recently.

You can watch the entire video here,


Elena Aguilar has created a useful website for instructional coaches.

Elena Aguilar has put together a good YouTube list on Coaching.

“Fewer bosses. More coaches, please” Applies to Schools As Well As To Business

How Great Coaches Ask, Listen, and Empathize is from The Harvard Business Review.

Coaching model aims to help support teachers’ thinking is from Chalkbeat Colorado.

Teacher Coaching: What We Know is from The World Bank.

Good New TED-Talk: “Want to get great at something? Get a coach”

Turn & Talk / Zaretta Hammond on Coaching and Culturally Responsive Teaching is from ASCD Educational Leadership.

How to make lesson feedback a conversation

3 key questions to measure instructional coaching effectiveness is from Teach Learn Grow.

Research-Backed Ways to Improve Feedback for Teachers is from Edutopia.

Lesson feedback: don’t send it, don’t give it – co-construct it. Otherwise, it won’t be worth it. is from Teacherhead.

4 ways instructional coaches can help teachers select a focus for instructional coaching is from Teach Learn Grow.

Why aren’t we doing ‘instructional coaching’ (even though everyone else seems to be)? is from Evidence Based Education.

Additional contributions are welcome!

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You might also want to explore the 750 other “The Best…” lists I’ve compiled.