Crafting Your Coaching Approach

Header - Biggs and Schramm - Coaching Plan

Katie Biggs and Hanna Schramm, who support and develop the instructional coaching program for Comal ISD in Texas, explore three ways to hone your craft by building relationships, diversifying your toolkit, and empowering educators.


hen it comes to instructional coaching there's no one size fits all. We encounter a wide range of expectations and needs, and it's up to us to equip each educator with a coaching plan tailored to their needs. Before we can craft a well-suited plan, we must have some strategies in place to help us design an approach that will meet the needs of our coaching clients.

Build relationships

Instructional coaching is built around a partnership where the coach facilitates reflection, drives growth, and increases capacity. Before we can embark on this journey it's vital that we get to know our coaching participants. Building a relationship allows us to gain:

  • Trust: Getting to know those involved in our coaching cycle helps build trust. By building trust teachers will feel safe and more willing to partner with you. Trust says, "I'm not going to let you fall. I've got you." Trust is essential when it comes to coaching.
  • Respect: Earning mutual respect for one another allows us to be fully present. Respect says, "I value your ideas, thoughts, and differences. Together we are stronger."
  • Perspective: Gaining perspective leads to clear understanding. Our perceptions of other people guide how we interact, how we relate, how we react, and how we lead. Having a clear perspective says, "I appreciate and recognize your core beliefs."

To start cultivating relationships, try leaving positive notes with something you noticed during the week, start meetings with conversations about their day, and don't forget the power of chocolate!

Diversify your toolkit

When we enter into a coaching partnership, we're greeted with a variety of scenarios. A strategy that works well for one person may not work for another, so we need to have a collection of resources to pull from. Having a vast knowledge of research centered around coaching adult learners helps ignite a transformative and reflective practice!

We like Elena Aguilar's Coaching Question Stems for intentional discussions. You might want to take a look at Jim Knight's Seven Partnership Principles for designing your coaching approach, or Diane Sweeney's philosophy of coaching through a student centered coaching approach.

To gain an understanding of what drives our coaching participants and to learn what is most important to them, try Elena Aguilar's Identifying Core Value exercise. Knowing what others value and what this means to them will help us when choosing the best coaching strategy.

Empower your educators

As a coach, we have the honor of maximizing growth for all stakeholders. To accomplish this, we must equip our teachers with the strength, confidence, and voice they need to take ownership of their students' needs.

Whether it's increasing meta-cognitive skills through critical writing, building conceptual understanding using differentiated centers, or increasing inquiry through questioning stems, our teachers must feel they have autonomy and the capacity to take risks and advocate for what is best for their students.

Inviting coaching participants to create a teacher manifesto of their intentions for the year can be a powerful way to incorporate continual reflection and management of the goals they have set.

Final note

At the end of the day, being an instructional coach means being able to craft a coaching approach that meets the diverse needs of every student and teacher.

In between the planning, the data digs, and instructional conversations we must never forget that what makes our approach transformative is truly knowing our teachers, building our own capacity around coaching, and inspiring our teachers to embrace their instructional leadership!

About our Guest Blogger

Katie Biggs is a Coordinator of Instructional Design for Comal Independent School District in New Braunfels, TX. She is a member of the Professional Learning team where she runs the district mentor program, assists with instructional coach development, and helps design professional learning opportunities. Prior to her current role, she was an IC for Comal, and an elementary school teacher and mentor in the DoDEA school system for ten years. Katie strives to create opportunities for teachers that ignites reflective thinking on current practices and develops high quality teaching and learning experiences for all students.

Professional learning and mentoring new teachers is a true passion of Katie's. She strives to create opportunities for teachers that ignites reflective thinking on current practices and develops high quality teaching and learning experiences for all students.

Hanna Schramm is the Director of Professional Learning for Comal Independent School District, and has been with them for the past four years. She has a passion for inspiring educators to tap into their leadership potential and grow others around them! She leads a team of four Instructional Design Coordinators, who together: facilitate the district's Instructional Coaching Program, Mentor Program, New Teacher Academy, Instructional Technology implementation, provide professional learning opportunities for all Comal ISD teachers through summer conferences and real time PD. Prior to her work in Comal, Hanna was a Program Manager and instructional coach for Region 13 Education Service Center.

As Hanna continued her career in education, adult learning and instructional coaching quickly became a passion! She continues to provide opportunities for Instructional Coaches and Teachers to grow in their profession, develop their personal self-reflection and collaborate with peers to build each other up!

Illustration by Icons 8.

Continue reading more great posts!