Coaching Tip #1: Don't Get Hung Up On The Term 'Coaching Cycle'


Posted By Sam Shields On 11/02/2021 at 11:45 am

Coaching Cycles
Coaching Skinny (Tips)

Coaching Tip 1: 📝

Don't Get Hung Up on the Term 'Coaching Cycle'

Dear Coach Sam,

How would you describe a coaching cycle to a newbie? Do we have to define every phase we are in? Do we have to have specific forms to document everything on?

Looking for Support,

Sara G.

Dear Sara,

Well, that is a great question that nearly all coaches wonder about, not just newbies. We all read about coaching cycles as this set framework, model, or process that we have to go through in what seems like a rigid format, but the reality is, it doesn’t have to be one-set-way. Having read and been trained on The Impact Cycle and Student-Centered Coaching, for example, I can honestly say that ‘coaching cycles’ with me look more like a natural coming together of colleagues to chat about next steps.

 I often recommend to fellow coaches to not get hung up on what a coaching cycle should, could, and has to look like. When you come together and partner with teachers; keep it natural. Think of the ‘cycle’ as a natural way to come together and chat about the teacher’s desired learning or their desired learning for their students. 

Simply put, ‘some kind of event’ brought you together. Whether it be a PLC conversation, a professional development session you both attended, word of mouth or some kind of natural serendipitous interaction, the point is, a desire to grow, learn and collaborate is what brought the teacher and you together.

 From there, you can see it as a casual sequence of meetings, visits or chats based around what they are seeing as a need for their learning or for their students. The goal is theirs and theirs alone. Maybe we think they should work on something else first, but rather we respect and honor the direction that the teacher wants to go, with guidance from us to coach them on what other possibilities they can entertain. If teachers don’t have a choice in the goal in which they work with you, then you will lose their buy-in. 

 So, once you have a goal that you jointly decided to work towards, proceed to shift the conversation to what the both of you can do to reach the goal together (i.e., strategies that could be used, training to attend, classes to visit, or even classroom experiences to try together)

 Pursue clarity in what styles of coaching your teacher prefers (i.e., coaching moves). Once you know what coaching styles they are comfortable with, then chat about what each others’ role will be during each style. 

 At the end of each meeting, it’s good practice to schedule dates on the calendar so you both can be aware of what will transpire between the current time and the next coaching event. This habit will give you both an opportunity to prepare for the upcoming debrief conversation and determine what each of you would like to discuss regarding the goal(s) you’ve set together.

 Once the logistical information is out of the way, the coach and teacher follow a simple process:

  1. The preferred coaching style occurs (i.e., coaching moves including micro-modeling, classroom visits of peers, co-teachings, real time feedback coaching, etc);

  2. Coach notes the data and information determined to collect;

  3. Coach and teacher meet to chat and debrief, during which they make needed adjustments; then

  4. The process begins again. . . set the date for the next preferred coaching style to occur and following debrief;

  5. Collect data and information;

  6. Discuss what evidence was found;

  7. Make needed adjustments; and 

  8. Repeat until the goal is deemed as achieved by the teacher and coach.

When it comes to documentation, keep it simple! There are TONS of forms you can use and buy out there, but those all take time away from what matters most, the coaching. I recommend having a simple document that allows you to track the date, type of interaction, the focus, actions that occurred, and next steps. This way you have an ongoing view of the work done together over time AND it doesn't take lots of forms to capture it. 

You can even use a simple platform like Your Coaches Corner, which allows coaches to easily add their educators and groups, touchpoints & interactions, events/meetings, notes, and detailed cycle information they engage in.  Using Your Coaches Corner gives you back the ‘gift of time!’  EVERYTHING you do with each teacher & team is shown in one place; collecting evidence of your coaching with them over time.

Point Being: Coaching cycles are simply a series of cyclical conversations with the purpose of achieving a meaningful goal. You don’t have to get hung up on the term ‘coaching cycle.’ It will look how you choose to make it look when teachers work with YOU, because EVERY coach has their own unique approach to coaching!

Best of Luck,

Coach Sam

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