The Dynamic Learning Project pilot (DLP) research study1 shows that ongoing professional development for both coaches and administrators is critical for sustained success of coaching programs. Often, when expert teachers transition from the classroom into a coaching position, they become isolated in their new role and may deal with a variety of new challenges. New coaches not only need to gain training and experience in working with adult learners, but they also have to overcome the learning curve of adopting a new coaching model and connecting with a new community, while also adjusting to a schedule that looks very different from that of a classroom teacher. Likewise, many administrators do not have experience leading or collaborating on a coaching program (either as an administrator or as a coach) or even being coached as a teacher. Appropriate professional development (PD) around coaching for administrators helps them become engaged in the coaching program by understanding their critical role in its success in their school or district.
One component of the DLP coaching program was ongoing support provided to coaches and administrators by mentors. The vast majority of coaches and principals agreed or strongly agreed that this one-on-one expert assistance is essential for implementing an effective instructional coaching program.
While outside consultants can provide a fresh perspective and help coaches navigate difficult conversations with administrators, the benefit of mentorship from within the district is the added element of insider knowledge. Experienced coaches within a district can be leveraged to support their peers. For example, in one DLP district in Southern California that started small by piloting with all middle schools before expanding to elementary schools, the more experienced middle school coaches within the district served as informal mentors to the newer coaches.