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 work
    • How 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 program
    • The 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 to
      • Provide 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 Coaching
      • Never enough coaching to support to meet the demands of the program
        • Coaches 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 school
        • Without a way to monitor coaching support by teachers, coaches may miss opportunities to engage with some teachers
          • Coaches 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 Coaching
      • Team 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 learning
      • Coaches 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 Coaching
      • Inefficiency
      • 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!