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Educational Coaching Models

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  • 0:04 What Is an…
  • 1:00 The GROW Model
  • 2:06 The SMART Model
  • 3:15 The FUEL Model
  • 4:24 Finding & Implementing a Model
  • 5:58 Lesson Summary
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Instructor: Sharon Linde

Sharon has a Masters of Science in Mathematics

Teachers are like everyone else - they benefit from guidance and assistance. These days, many districts use instructional coaches and models, or action plans, as teacher performance is more regularly measured and monitored. In this lesson, you'll learn about the work of educational coaches while exploring three different models currently used in the field.

What Is an Instructional Coach?

An instructional coach, or IC, is a professional who works collaboratively with teachers to promote best teaching practices, often through the use of educational models. Because instructional coaches are specially trained and fluent in specific subject matter and pedagogy, they can provide school administrators with curricula support. For example, they may help teachers understand district goals and objectives, collect and analyze data, and model teach. Instructional coaches also conduct observations and set performance criteria; they aren't meant to function as evaluators.

Instructional coaches come in all shapes and sizes. Some are content specific, such as a reading, math, or data coach. Some travel between several schools, and some are assigned to just one. Some are given specific instruction and have little wiggle room, while others are autonomous members of the school who determine their own outcomes.

Let's take a look at three of the models currently used in the field.

The GROW Model

The GROW model is a tool used to format coaching or mentoring. While not specific to instructional coaching, many ICs use it to frame their practice. GROW stands for goal, reality, options, and way forward or will. This simple 4-step model allows ICs to set both short-term and long-term goals with teachers; this circular model is often repeated during the school year.

  • Goals: Some educational goals can be set at every curricula planning meeting, but general overarching goals should also be addressed and revisited.
  • Reality: Instructional teams use district and state expectations and student data to determine goals. They also develop methods for measuring success.
  • Options: Once goals are set, the team explores options, or steps, towards meeting the goals. For example, what type of instruction is necessary? Are academic interventions needed?
  • Way forward or will: Finally, team questions help the educational model or process get off the ground. This demands commitment, motivation, and accountability from both coaches and educators.

The SMART Model

Another popular, user-friendly coaching method is the SMART model, in which ICs and teachers determine performance indicators by creating

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Attainable
  • Realistic, and
  • Time-bound goals

Let's say that an instructional coach has just finished observing a teacher, and the two sit down to talk about the observation. In particular, the coach has noticed a lack of wait time in the classroom: the teacher isn't giving the students enough time to answer questions before supplying the answers herself. After talking about its importance as a teaching strategy, the IC and teacher set a realistic and time-bound goal of increased wait time using the SMART model.

Specifically, the two determine how many more minutes the teacher will add to the amount of time students have to answer a question. The IC and teacher also set up a method of measuring the outcome, as well as making sure the goal can be realistically accomplished within a given framework. For example, it wouldn't be feasible for the teacher to increase her wait time to the desired amount by the end of the first day, since it usually takes a while to establish new routines. Like the GROW model, the SMART model can be used throughout the school year for many applications and situations.

The FUEL Model

Another model used in instructional coaching is the FUEL model. FUEL stands for

  • Frame
  • Understand
  • Explore, and
  • Lay

Using this model allows ICs and teachers to have rich, specific, and outcome-based conversation about student, academic, and professional achievement.

Using this model, the IC first frames the conversation, or sets the purpose by communicating the desired outcome. Using the wait time example, the coach might begin the conversation by discussing wait time and its purpose and impact, engaging the teacher in the discussion to aid in a deeper understanding of the importance of the practice.

Next, the IC uses data from the observation to help the teacher understand how well he or she is performing the task. While doing this, it's important for the IC to use objective, concrete data in place of subjective or indefinite observations. Third, the team explores the desired outcome, asking questions about and brainstorming methods of achieving the goals. Finally, they lay out a plan using specific action steps. Remember to include a plan for accountability, and be realistic about the outcome. Sometimes, small steps are necessary to implement a big change.

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