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Instructional-Design Theories and Models: Volume IV, The Learner-Centered Paradigm of Education

Edited by Charles M. Reigeluth, Brian J. Beatty & Rodney D. Myers       2017

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Chapter 10

Designing Instructional Coaching

David S. Knight, Mike Hock, & Jim Knight


Editors’ Foreword


Preconditions (when to use the theory)


  • Instructional coaching focuses on helping teachers improve, leading to better student learning.

                The content of the coaching is related to instructional design.

  • Instructional coaching principles described in this chapter may be applicable to other coaching

                situations as well (e.g., a teacher coaching students).


  • Teachers are the primary target of instructional coaching. Ultimately, the students of these

                teachers are the beneficiaries of effective implementation, and these “second order” learners can be anyone.

      Learning environments

  • Contexts within which teachers teach; situations in which teachers are available to work one-on-one with coaches.

      Instructional development constraints

  • Minimal.


Values (opinions about what is important)

      About ends (learning goals)

  • Adoption by teachers of research-based instructional practices is highly valued.

  • Reflection on and practice of personally relevant ideas are highly valued.

      About means (instructional methods)

  • Dialogue, or learning conversations, between coach and teacher are highly valued.

  • A multi-vocal partnership providing opportunities for both parties to express their point of view is highly valued.

  • A reciprocal learning perspective is highly valued; both coaching partners benefit.

  • Integration of goal setting, questioning, and data gathering with explanation, modeling, and feedback is highly valued.

  • The use of video of the teacher’s classroom performance to prompt self-reflection and changes to practice is highly valued.​

      About priorities (criteria for successful instruction)

  • Efficiency (in terms of cost) is a concern.

      About power (to make decisions about the previous three)

  • Partnership between equals is highly valued, with coaches being responsible for facilitating improvement of teachers but not for evaluating performance.

  • Individual and collaborative choices are highly valued.


Universal Principles

     1. Observation and goals

  • Gather data on what is currently happening in a teacher’s classroom (or other coaching context).

  • Share the data gathered with the teacher for her or his review.

  • Collaborate together to identify a performance goal that is compelling to the teacher.

  • Situational variation: If a teacher seems uneasy about this activity, then the teacher should watch the video alone first. The teacher can make notes of positive aspects and challenges they observe in the video and bring these to their meeting with the coach.

     2. High-leverage practices

  • Content planning: The coach helps the teacher plan effective courses, units, and lessons.

  • Formative assessment practices: The coach helps the teacher use formative assessment to identify precisely what the students are to learn, how to assess student understanding, and how to provide feedback to students on their progress. 

  • Instructional practices: The coach helps the teacher develop effective instructional practices – ones that increase engagement and mastery during lessons. 

  • Community building: The coach helps the teacher create safe and productive learning environments. 

  • Self-regulated: All coaching is done only in the service of the teacher’s goals.

     3. Explicit explanations

  • The coach provides explanations that are clear and easy to act on; this requires deep, complete understanding of the practices.

  • The coach explains how to adapt practices to be best suited to the needs of the individual teacher.

     4. Modeling

  • The coach demonstrates a new practice in the teacher’s classroom, explaining how a particular practice could be implemented; the teacher observes the coach.

  • Situational variation: If traditional approaches to modeling are not feasible or preferred, then the coach should use alternate methods of modeling, such as teaching without students present, co-teaching with the teacher, suggesting that the teacher observe other classrooms in the school, or sharing videos of other teachers.

     5. Deliberate practice and progress toward the goal

  • Provide opportunities for the teacher to practice the new skills as the coach gathers and shares data on the impact of the practice, until the goal (criterion for success) is reached.

     6. Reflection

  • The coach helps the teacher reflect on what she or he is learning, and the coach reflects on her or his own learning; reflection often leads to new or revised goals.

  • Situational variation: If the teacher decides to pursue a second or third goal, then the coach should encourage the teacher’s reflection to focus on identifying new goals.

                                                                                                                                                                                       –  C.M.R., B.J.B & R.D.M.

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