Coaching done well may be the most effective intervention designed for human performance. 

–Atul Gawande

Surgeon and New Yorker columnist Atul Gawande gave a TEDTalk last year that reinforced coaching as key to improving in any profession. He noted that, in medicine, he became a safer and more skilled surgeon because of his coach, and that the outcomes of mothers and babies were significantly enhanced by coaching in his study of labor and delivery professionals.

Coaching works. But what about the coaches themselves? What about their need to “get better,” too?

Instructional coaches are deeply committed to students, to teachers, to schools, to learning, and to improving. Because leaders often view instructional coaches as some of the strongest teachers and leaders in a school system, attending to their coaches’ needs for meaningful feedback and growth often takes a backseat to the development needs of their teacher colleagues. Because of the influence of coaches on their colleagues and thus on a school’s professional culture, ongoing attention to coaches’ needs for growth should be a key part of professional development in schools.

The new ICG certification process provides a vehicle for the professional growth of coaches. In framing the process around the Seven Success Factors for effective instructional coaching, coach-candidates continually reflect on and provide evidence of the key research-based elements of coaching.

Through the process, coaches delve deeply into their coaching practice and into their work with teachers on impact cycles that improve instruction. They get a clearer picture of what they are doing and how they are doing it. They work on improvement in a process that they direct themselves and that is guided by research and best practices in coaching. Professional development of this nature involves deep learning, deep commitment, and significant growth.

I don’t come to you today as an expert. I come to you as someone who has been really interested in how I get better at what I do and how we all do. I think it’s not just how good you are now, I think it’s how good you’re going to be that really matters.

–Atul Gawande

Instructional coaches are often viewed as “experts” in schools, but coaches are learners like everyone else. Student needs and, consequently, school needs are ever evolving and complex. Schools need instructional coaches who are equipped to address those needs every day.

“Getting better” should be an ongoing process, an evolving practice that involves innovation, reflection, feedback, and goal setting. ICG certification supports that mindset by giving coaches the tools they need to improve, improvement that can ultimately influence all of the learners in a school building.

Interested in certification?

This column was written by Certified Instructional Coaching Group Consultant, Sharon Thomas