Instructional coaching has a lot of moving pieces. Not only do coaching partners have to manage countless resources, strategies, and relationships, but to successfully help teachers reach their own student-focused goals, coaches must embody the Partnership Principles and model beliefs and habits of healthy communication. Workshops and other one-off professional learning opportunities for educators often approach these many necessities by focusing on them one or two at a time, and it can be easy to lose sight of the forest through all of the trees.
Jim Knight and ICG developed a simple, organized way to address all of the most essential aspects of a successful coaching program: Seven Factors for Success.
Detailed in The Definitive Guide to Instructional Coaching: Seven Factors for Success by Jim Knight, the seven factors for success are areas that must be engaged to ensure a successful coaching program. These factors detail the research-based coaching process and resources, guiding principles, and the communication and relationship dynamics ICG has studied and developed for more than twenty years. Without purposeful development and support in all seven areas, a coaching program may not meet its maximum potential, educators may become discouraged, and those who are the most vulnerable—your students— will suffer the most loss.
A program centered around these seven factors will ensure the use of a clear, evidence-based coaching process that is fully supported by school leaders and administrators, and more importantly, it will foster positive learning experiences for students.
The Seven Success Factors contain fundamental knowledge and resources in the following areas:
The Partnership Principles
At its core, a partnership approach is about treating others the way you would like to be treated. We see coaching as dialogical. Instead of dictating exactly what someone should do to improve, we believe a respectful and collaborative dialogue paves the way to positive change. We work from seven Partnership Principles to guide all of the work we do: equality, choice, voice, dialogue, reflection, praxis, and reciprocity.
Since coaching is, above all, a series of conversations, coaches must be effective communicators. Coaches should employ effective coaching skills grounded in healthy beliefs about communication.
Coaches as Leaders
Leadership can be divided into two parts: leading yourself and leading others. To lead yourself, you must know your purpose and principles, how to use your time effectively, and how to take care of yourself. To lead others, you need a combination of ambition and humility—to be reliable and ambitious for change but at the same time responsive to teachers and their needs.
The Impact Cycle
While every coaching situation presents unique challenges, an established process for guiding the coaching experience ensures that instructional coaches have all the tools they need to help teachers set and achieve their goals.
Data is important within a coaching program because it provides a way to set goals and monitor progress. Goals need to be measured frequently so that teachers can determine if what they are doing is working or if adjustments need to be made.
Instructional coaches share teaching strategies with teachers so they can meet the goals they set. For that reason, coaches need to have a deep understanding of high-impact teaching strategies.
When coaches flourish, it is often because they work in settings where leaders are intentional and disciplined about providing the support that is required for coaching success to occur. The opposite is also true. Without support, coaches often struggle to have any impact at all.