What do an Olympic athlete and an elementary school teacher have in common? 

The answer, the need for a highly competent coach.

A professional athlete isn’t the only career that can benefit from coaching. Teachers can become exceptional educators when they, like athletes, take the time to learn what works and what doesn’t work with the help of a supportive and knowledgeable coach. And while there are no Olympic medals for teachers, there is the satisfaction in knowing that they are equipped with the best strategies and tools needed to ensure their students succeed.  



Traditionally, school districts help educators align their instruction with best evidence-based practice predominantly through workshop-style training sessions during the school year (Darling-Hammond et al., 2009). While prevalent, the large-format workshop model has a less impressive track-record for creating lasting change in a teacher’s practice and student achievement. Studies show that “short, one-shot workshops do not change teacher practice and have no effect on student achievement” (Yoon et al, 2007; Bush, 1984).

This challenges leaves school leadership searching for answers.


Instructional mastery comes only as a result of continuous practice.


The solution is not only knowledge building through workshop and seminars, but following these large group sessions with one-on-one coaching. More specifically, content-focused coaching. 

During the Implementation Stage, initial attempts to use a new teaching strategy are often met with failure. Without support during this phase, it is highly unlikely that teachers will persevere with the newly learned strategy. When professional development merely describes a skill to teachers, only 10% can transfer it to their practice; however, when teachers are coached through the awkward phase of implementation, 95% can transfer the skill. Instructional mastery comes only as a result of continuous practice.


The transmission of evidence-based practices is a slow, steady, and social grind. To truly change practices, professional development should occur over time and preferably be ongoing. You have to understand an instructor’s existing norms and barriers to change. You have to understand what’s getting in their way. Monthly trainings and guidebooks alone are not enough to improve instruction and student learning. Combining large and small group sessions, with the vital one-on-one coaching with teachers in the classroom is essential if districts want real changes in teaching practice. This approach provides them with demonstrations and feedback that will help them incorporate effective literacy practices into their daily work with students. 

When teachers are well-equipped with the best strategies and tools, the results impact not only the teacher but the students as well. With an emphasis on one-on-one coaching, schools can increase student success, teacher job satisfaction, and create a robust learning environment for current and future generations. Learn More >>


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30 Years Strong, Annual Report 2018