1:1 Coaching vs Team Coaching | Debating the Pros and Cons of Instructional Coaching

Podcast: Coaching Matters Chapter 4A

In this episode of “Ask the Tech Coach,” Jeff and Sue discuss Chapter 4 of Coaching Matters. In this chapter, you will learn the differences, as well as the pro's and con's of both 1:1 and Team Coaching.

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Coaching Matters Chapter 4: Decisions about Coaches' Work

  • The leaders who manage and initiate coaching programs or refine existing programs make a series of critical decisions regarding coaches’ daily workHow to make decisions about the coaching program
  • Which teachers coaches serve
  • How coaches spend their days once primary roles are determined
  • What constitutes a coaching cycle
  • How coaches interact with teachers that they serve
  • Reluctance to make appropriate decisions can lead to confusion about how a coaching program works and significant variance within the programs and can result in uneven results in the coaching program
  • Each decision should be made to influence the effects of the coaching program
  • Factors to consider when looking to positively influence the coaching programThe balance between individual and team coaching
  • Frequency in monitoring coaches’ work
  • Access to offsite professional learning
  • Deployment of coaches

Coach Program Decisions

One decision that influences how a coach spends time each day is the balance between individual and team coaching.

Balance of Individual and Team Coaching

  • The coaching program's purpose and goals form the primary determinants of a balance between team and individual coaching.When the purpose and goals are clear, district and local decision-makers find that operational decisions are easier to make
  • Setting parameters regarding the balance of time helps a coach make a better decision about how to allocate and prioritize time
  • Determining the balance between team and individual time takes deep consideration of the:Coaching program goals
  • Needs of teachers
  • School and district culture

Individual Coaching

  • Each teacher is a unique learner
  • The focused time between coaches and teachers have the greatest potential to strengthen student learning opportunities and teaching quality
  • The purpose and benefits of individual coaching are toProvide personalized, differentiated, contextualized support to teachers within their own classrooms
  • With their content areas and their students
  • In 1:1 coaching, coaches can go deeper and focuses more on the specific needs and situations when which teachers work and adapt to a teacher’s preferences, experience, and learning goals.Coaches and teachers can dress personalized needs within the individual classroom context to fine-tune a teacher’s practice and expand student’s opportunities to learn.
  • Coaches can be focused on advancing a teacher’s practice in the most expedient way.
  • In 1:1 coaching, coaches and teachers epically engage in a full or partial coaching cycle.Teachers identify their learning goals, the outcomes for their students, and contribute to decisions about how the coach can best support them in reaching both.
  • Coaches have one or more opportunities to gather data for analysis with the teacher, engage in a conversation focused on the teacher’s decision-making related to practice, and explore and choose alternatives to current practice.
  • Limitations of 1:1 CoachingNever enough coaching to support to meet the demands of the programCoaches first make direct observations of teachers’ nuanced behaviors involved in performance and the effects of those behaviors on different students. 
  • Coaches analyze what is happening and guide teachers to make large or small adjustments in their practice to affect student outcomes.
  • Scheduling Coaches and Teachers vs Volunteerism is a proactive way to ensure that individual coaching support is equitably distributed across a schoolWithout a way to monitor coaching support by teachers, coaches may miss opportunities to engage with some teachersCoaches may find it relatively easy to avoid teachers who don’t seek support or are perceived to be doing fine without it
  • This only hurts the potential for student achievement

Team Coaching

  • Team coaching intends to move new learning into practice and adapt and refine practice for student success.Team coaching widens the opportunity for coaching support because coaches work with multiple teachers at one time.
  • Why Team Coach?To exponentially increase the effects and speed of change for more teachers
  • When teachers work in a team, coaching can be more efficient and more effective.
  • Team coaching has the opportunity to advance team maturation, growth, innovation, confidence, and efficacy.
  • The argument against Team CoachingTeam coaching is now a way to reduce the number of coaches needed
  • Team coaching blends 1:1 coaching with team coaching to provide a greater potential for transforming the quality of teaching and learningCoaches help team members harness the collective power of the group to help each other and strengthen their success (Thornton (2010)
  • In a Team, Coaches can work with:PLC's
  • Grade-Level Teachers
  • Courses
  • Departments
  • Interdisciplinary Teams
  • Other group types where members share a common learning goal
  • Pitfalls of Team CoachingInefficiency
  • Groupthink
  • Competition
  • Inductiveness
  • Time
  • Most pitfalls occur when a coach is not prepared to coach a team or when members have inaccurate assumptions or expectations about coaching.The best type of team coaching comes when the coach works with the group leader to help them become a better group leader so that the group can work independently.The coach can then support individual members of a team while the leader focuses on the group as a unit
  • Another downside is that a coach spends the majority of time in team meetings and not in the classroom working with teachers 1:1

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About the author, Jeffrey Bradbury

Jeff Bradbury, creator of TeacherCast, and father of the famous @EduTriplets Thanks for checking out TeacherCast today. Please take a moment to find me on all of my Social Media channels!