The most concise and definitive text for any educator to apply to their coaching program.

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The Definitive Guide to Instructional Coaching:
Seven Factors for Success

“If you are a coach… read this book to find out more deeply who you are, what you do, and where you work. So readable, and inspiring!”

Michael Fullan

“New coaches should definitely have this book in their collection as it will surely provide a springboard for reflection and learning.”

— Elena Aguilar

“I have seen Jim in action as a coach, and in this book, the king of coaching has revealed his soul, secrets, and success.”

— John Hattie

Even under the most ideal conditions, teaching is tough work.

Facing unrelenting pressure from administrators and parents and caught in a race against time to improve student outcomes, educators can easily become discouraged (or worse, burn out completely) without a robust coaching system in place to support them.

For more than 20 years, perfecting such a system has been the paramount objective of best-selling author and coaching expert Jim Knight and his team of researchers at the Instructional Coaching Group (ICG). In The Definitive Guide to Instructional Coaching, Knight offers a blueprint for establishing, administering, and assessing an instructional coaching program laser-focused on every educator’s ultimate goal: the academic success of students.

Organized around ICG’s 7 Success Factors for great instructional coaching, this book offers:

* An in-depth guide to the Impact Cycle, ICG’s research-based and field-tested model for coaching teachers through issues that matter most to them;

* Detailed guidance on how to create a “playbook” of instructional strategies to share with collaborating teachers—and how to model those strategies under different conditions;

* Practical advice on preparing for and engaging in substantive, reflective, and teacher-centered coaching conversations;

* Best practices for gathering, analyzing, and responding to data for improved teaching and learning; and

* Real-life anecdotes and testimonies from educators and coaches who have reaped the benefits of the Impact Cycle in a diverse array of schools.

In addition, each chapter of the book contains a learning map to help orient you and a list of valuable additional resources to complement the text. Whether you’re new to coaching or well versed in the practice, The Definitive Guide to Instructional Coaching will no doubt become your go-to resource for powerful coaching that has an unmistakeable positive impact on students and, indeed, all educators.

Photo of The Definitive Guide to Instructional Coaching

Get your copy of The Definitive Guide to Instructional Coaching: Seven Factors for Success

Created by identifying common factors in successful coaching programs from all over the world, The Definitive Guide to Instructional Coaching: Seven Factors for Success by Jim Knight offers a blueprint for establishing, administering, and assessing an instructional coaching program laser-focused on every educator’s ultimate goal: the academic success of students.

How does ICG measure success?

When coaching is done well, it meets ICG’s 7 Success Factors


The way we present ourselves to others—what we do and how we act—plays an important part in the strength of our relationships.

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Partnership Principles

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Communication Beliefs & Habits

Since coaching is, above all, a series of conversations, coaches need to be effective communicators. They also need to employ effective coaching skills that reflect healthy beliefs about communication.

Related Workshop:
Better Conversations

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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, a combination of ambition and humility is needed—to be reliable and ambitious for change but at the same time responsive to teachers.

Related Workshop:
Better Leaders

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Coaching Process

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.

Related Workshop:
The Impact Cycle

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Gathering Data

Data is important within coaching because it provides a way to identify 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.

Related Workshop:
Gathering Data

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Instructional Playbook

When going through the coaching cycle, there can be so many factors at play that it’s easy to be overwhelmed. That’s why a central focus of instructional coaching is creating an Instructional Playbook to meet student-focused goals.

Related Workshop:
The Instructional Playbook

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System Support

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 will often struggle to have any impact at all.

Related Workshop:
Evaluating Instructional Coaching

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Praise for The Definitive Guide

Anytime I see a book that tackles a complex matter, I pull out my three key criteria: conciseness (is it clear and specific), comprehensiveness (does it cover the waterfront), and mutual exclusiveness (does it avoid confusing overlap). And the winner is The Definitive Guide to Instructional Coaching! And, indeed, it is definitive. Beautifully written, elegantly simple, fabulously displayed. Coaching made powerful. If you are a coach (which should be just about all of us in education), read this book to find out more deeply who you are, what you do, and where you work. So readable, and inspiring!

Michael Fullan
Professor Emeritus, OISE/University of Toronto

Jim Knight’s The Definitive Guide to Instructional Coaching provides a wealth of information that’s well researched, sound and wise, and actionable. New coaches should definitely have this book in their collection as it will surely provide a springboard for reflection and learning.

Elena Aguilar
Author of The Art of Coaching

Coaching can have such variable impacts, and this should scream for a science of coaching; a focus for coaches to look back, at, and ahead; the power of listening and engaging in dialogue; and an openness to learn. I have seen Jim in action as a coach, and in this book, the king of coaching has revealed his soul, secrets, and success.

John Hattie
Emeritus Laureate Professor, Melbourne Graduate School of Education

Jim Knight begins this book by acknowledging that its title suggests some hubris on his part, adding that he has taken great care to write a book that lives up to its title. In varied sources, experts are described as having extensive and meaningful experience in a domain, deriving successful intuition from that experience, having great breadth and depth of knowledge that contribute to profound understanding and ultimately to wisdom. Experts are said to be strategic—weaving what they know and understand into coherent systems, and communicating in ways that invite trust from those with whom they communicate. The author’s humanity, depth of knowledge insight, respectful communication, and systemic coherence quickly led me to realize that it is a definitive guide to virtually every form of leadership in schools and classrooms. It deserves an expansive readership!

Carol Ann Tomlinson
EdD, William Clay Parrish, Jr. Professor Emeritus, University of Virginia

When Jim Knight writes a book that includes the words “definitive guide” in the title, educators should read it. Jim has combined his detailed knowledge of the science of coaching with his acute insights regarding the inner workings of schools, earned from decades of on-the-ground experience, to provide us with a comprehensive and transformational view of what coaching can and should be. The system Jim has laid out in his newest book is a model for how schools should organize themselves when they wish to become communities of learners.
Robert J. Marzano
Chief Academic Officer, Marzano Resources

There simply isn’t a bigger influence than Jim Knight in the world of instructional coaching. His words, through workshops, keynotes, books, blogs, and articles, give us a greater understanding of how to coach and learn from those we coach. I always look forward to his next piece of research, and this book is a compilation of his greatest hits from the last couple of decades, and a guide to doing that work to a deeper degree. I am fortunate to call Jim a mentor and a friend, and I see this deeply impactful book as a go-to resource for a very long time.

Peter DeWitt
EdD, leadership coach, author, and Education Week blogger

Jim Knight’s work around coaching occupies a unique place in efforts toward educational equity. In The Definitive Guide to Instructional Coaching, he shows us through the synthesis of his body of work how to hold space for teachers and stand shoulder to shoulder with them so they can engage in authentic self-reflection, instructional decision making, and collaborative inquiry in order to improve their practice in the service of our children.

Zaretta Hammond,
Author of Culturally Responsive Teaching and the Brain

“The definitive guide”? If anyone else claimed this, I’d scoff. But Jim Knight? He’s set the standard for years, and this book is a culmination of his important work.

Michael Bungay Stanier
Author of The Coaching Habit

Downloads and Resources

Chapter 2 – My Favorite Questions for the Impact Cycle



Chapter 4 – Student and Teacher Forms for Analyzing Video



Chapter 5 – Sample Checks for Understanding