As an instructional coach and new leader of coaching programs, Rebecca was always looking for ways to figure out how to deliver coaching in ways that were most effective and enjoyable for teachers so they would feel empowered by the process and want to participate. As part of her early doctoral work, she completed a mixed methods study that incorporated information from respected coaching authors, qualitative interviews with 15 coaches, and a statistical analysis of 279 evaluative surveys of coaches by teachers, other coaches, and administrators. The findings identified 10 important characteristics coaches could develop to be more effective. Rebecca and the coaches she worked with were a bit surprised that research indicated the need for a balanced approach to coaching and that caring (and characteristics related to it) were critical to being effective in a coaching role. We were under the impression that the most effective coaching processes were focused on data and results we could measure and then analyze. Though these pieces are important and can lead to good coaching, we found that great coaching requires valuing and working with both the hearts and minds of teachers.
Because of the research findings, Rebecca, with input from other coaches, created additions to coaching protocols that incorporated elements of caring so coaches would have enough knowledge to tailor their coaching to the individual teacher. Some of these new pieces included reconnecting the teacher with their purpose for teaching, learning about teachers’ likes and dislikes, personality styles, learning preferences, future career plans, and discussing self-care. Coaches could then make plans for coaching that not only supported the technical aspects of teaching, but also the social, emotional, and physical needs of the teacher.
After implementing these changes for a number of years and training coaches to understand and incorporate the characteristics of effective coaches into their practice, Rebecca decided to design her dissertation to see if this new type of coaching worked. The study was organized to analyze how well 69 coached teachers felt they grew in their instructional practice compared to 70 teachers not coached. The results were positively significant for coached teachers, even though many types of professional development were readily available for all teachers in the district. The coached teachers’ growth outperformed non-coached teachers’ growth by 4-5 times in 22 areas of instructional practice and job satisfaction increased exponentially. Please see the publications page on this website for details.
All coaches on the Coach Happy team were an integral part of the studies and the incredible results are theirs to celebrate. Each team member has successfully implemented this holistic, and at times, healing type of coaching work that values teachers’ minds and hearts. Because we have seen such success in instructional competency and teacher resilience by coaching in this joyful way, we hope to share this more balanced way of coaching with you. Look for free resources on the Tools page of this website to support coaches and education leaders looking to incorporate the characteristics of effective instructional coaches into their coaching practice. We at Coach Happy are happily and humbly in process as we strive to continue to improve ourselves by developing these characteristics. We are on this journey with you and definitely do not possess all these characteristics perfectly. We just know that as we better ourselves, we will be better coaches. We invite you to join us on this journey!
Coaches, Educational Leaders, and all those who care for teachers:
All of us at Coach Happy stand with you and offer you our love and support as you face this unprecedented time when teachers need our encouragement, our creative and hopeful minds, and our caring hearts. Thank you for all you do to make a positive difference in the lives of teachers and students.