In this #coachbetter episode, Kim talks with Diane Sweeney, author of Student-Centered Coaching, and includes many coaching gems from Diane! They talk about everything from working with reluctant teachers to helping school leaders understand the value of coaching, to tracking coaching data, to effective coaching strategies based on her experience in schools around the world, and her advice for educators who might be interested in publishing their own educational work!

This conversation is a window into the learning that happens inside The Coach Certificate and Mentorship Program because there are so many aspects of Diane’s work that we use within the program. Wherever you are in building a coaching culture in your school, The Coach will give you the strategies, skills, and tools you need to make coaching a success. This academic-year-long online course & mentorship program will empower you to confidently apply instructional coaching strategies in any situation – from building a coaching program to being a leader in your school community. Registration for our next global cohort opens on February 21st and closes on March 14th. Find out more, and join the waiting list at edurolearning.com/coach today!

Featured Guest

Bonus! Watch the Spotlight Version on YouTube!

Show Notes

Please tell us a little bit about how your work has evolved over time – this could be focused on your personal journey and also your books and the way your thinking about coaching has evolved. 

When I started coaching, I was a literacy coach and I had no idea what the job was. Still to this day, there are coaches in this position. Hired for the role with no clear framework to follow, no job description. When I started I thought it must be my job to make everyone teach like me. When I started I made good connections with people. But not with everyone.

I was thinking so much about adults, I realized I wasn’t really thinking about students anymore. At the same time, I was learning about backwards design. Student-centered coaching is about where do we want kids to end up, success criteria to get there, how are we going to teach it is the last thing we figure out, not the first.

Big piece: student evidence. First change: stopped bringing resources and started bringing in student work.

Clarity around job description: Get clear on your own beliefs, 5-6 belief statements (commitment statements to use with teachers because I believe…) & then disseminate during coaching cycles, to principals, coaching is/coaching isn’t to the whole division and then grade level.

One of the most challenging things we have to do as coaches is to work with teachers who may be cautious / resistant to coaching. How does student-centered coaching take the focus off what the teacher does, so that a coaching conversation is more approachable to those teachers?

We’re all in agreement that coaching is goal-oriented. The type of goal you start with can really mitigate against reluctance. What do you as a teacher want your students to know and do, that will influence our work together? It can’t be an external agenda put on a teacher by someone else.

If we set goals for student learning, we’re sending a message that I’m here to be a partner. We push against using the word observation. The word is code for evaluation. This sends the message that coaches are watching teachers teach.

Coplanning and coteaching: you can’t even tell who the coach is, who the teacher is. It’s shared thinking.

Avoid too much modeling: sending a message that the teacher is below the coach in status. Micro modeling. Modeling can lead to reluctance. Working with teachers with what they want to work on, things that make sense for their students.

In your work with teams and schools all around the world, what makes coaching work well? What are ways that we, as coaches, can work effectively with individuals, teams, and larger groups (like a division or whole school)?

Coach being curious in a whole-hearted, asset-based way. A coach who says, “I wonder about” instead of “I think”: the dynamic of humble curiosity is the backbone of relationships. Relationships are built on humble curiosity.

Principal – Coach partnership. If you’re not collaborating with your principal, you’re only going to be able to coach so many people so far.

Structure: steps to follow, teachers need to know that there’s a predictable structure to this work. If I work with one person, it should be consistent.

How do you help school leaders understand the value and purpose of coaching? Many of our listeners are in coaching positions with admin who may not have a clear vision of the role. How can they better build that understanding among school leadership? 

Trying to connect coaching to the school’s mission / vision. Connect to the current initiative. If we can help principals understand the distinction between pressure and support (push & pull, Fullen). You’re the pressure person as the school leader, I can’t be that person. I’m the pull. I’m the one who’s there to help your vision come to life.

If I’m support and your pressure, what does that look like? Let’s create a Venn Diagram. Need to go and have a conversation with the school leader. 

Weekly principal / coach meetings. 3 steps: coaching work, hear from the principal about what they’re seeing throughout the division, planning for a future PD.

How do you say no to your school leader?

Talk about tradeoffs. I could do that, but this is the result of that. I could do walk throughs but it’s going to feel like supervision, but that’s going to cut people off from working with me down the line. Do we really want to do that, let’s think through this together

NEW: Data: how do you look at data during remote learning? 

Lots more access to student evidence, but it’s harder to work with. Prefer tangible evidence. We have to learn how to learn from it. 

Still some things we have to be doing: 1:1 conferring. Student evidence comes out of those conversations. Small group work. Structured breakout room work.

What goes into a chat can be student evidence.


Is it time to reflect on your coaching program?

As you read through all of those 8 steps to building a successful coaching program, where do you think your program is thriving, and where might it be struggling? If now is the time for you to think how you can begin the process to ensure coaching is successful in your school environment, you might like our brand new free download: Coaching Program Evaluation!

You’ll walk through all of the steps in the THRIVE model to determine where your current program needs attention – and where you’re already strong. You’ll have a clear understanding of the gaps that you need to address in your program. You can even dig deeper into the evaluation process with our upcoming LIVE webinar: 3 Steps to Create a Thriving Coaching Culture All Coaches Need to Know!

You’ll walk through all of the steps in the THRIVE model to determine where your current program needs attention – and where you’re already strong. You’ll have a clear understanding of the gaps that you need to address in your program. You can even dig deeper into the evaluation process with our upcoming LIVE webinar: 3 Steps to Create a Thriving Coaching Culture All Coaches Need to Know!

Webinar Description: Are you struggling to build a coaching culture in your school setting? Are you frustrated by teacher reluctance or lack of leadership? Do you feel like something is missing to make coaching work? There are 3 key elements necessary to create a thriving coaching culture in all school settings. But, the reality is that most schools are missing one – and they don’t even realize it! In this workshop, you’ll learn exactly what’s needed to create a thriving coaching culture AND get the tools to identify the gaps in your coaching program so you can take action immediately! Are you ready to create a thriving coaching culture in your school this year?


Show Notes continued…

For our listeners, who might be interested in moving into a consulting or publishing pathway, what advice or expertise can you share with them?

It started with a problem I was having. I was struggling as a coach. When I was at the point that I was thinking this might help other people. You have to have a true authentic problem you’re solving. It has to be a problem you’re living. When you see a problem collaborate with people and then things will happen.

Make sure your writing is ready to be seen. You have to commit to multiple drafts.

Please tell us about your most recent book! Where did the idea come from and how is it shaping (shaped by) your current work?

Student-Centered Coaching from a Distance. Wrote over a series of retreats. Coaches needed help with remote learning. Fastest and easiest book we wrote ever.

Podcast: balance of US & International

Partners of international schools, matchmakers between schools who are all doing student-centered coaching

How do you help school leaders understand the value and purpose of coaching? Many of our listeners are in coaching positions with admin who may not have a clear vision of the role. How can they better build that understanding among school leadership? 

Trying to connect coaching to the school’s mission / vision. Connect to the current initiative. If we can help principals understand the distinction between pressure and support (push & pull, Fullen). You’re the pressure person as the school leader, I can’t be that person. I’m the pull. I’m the one who’s there to help your vision come to life.

If I’m support and your pressure, what does that look like? Let’s create a Venn Diagram. Need to go and have a conversation with the school leader. 

Weekly principal / coach meetings. 3 steps: coaching work, hear from the principal about what they’re seeing throughout the division, planning for a future PD.

How do you say no to your school leader?

Talk about tradeoffs. I could do that, but this is the result of that. I could do walk-throughs but it’s going to feel like supervision, but that’s going to cut people off from working with me down the line. Do we really want to do that, let’s think through this together

NEW: Data: how do you look at data during remote learning? 

Lots more access to student evidence, but it’s harder to work with. Prefer tangible evidence. We have to learn how to learn from it. 

Still some things we have to be doing: 1:1 conferring. Student evidence comes out of those conversations. Small group work. Structured breakout room work.

What goes into a chat can be student evidence. How to use it to 

For our listeners, who might be interested in moving into a consulting or publishing pathway, what advice or expertise can you share with them?

It started with a problem I was having. I was struggling as a coach. When I was at the point that I was thinking this might help other people. You have to have a true authentic problem you’re solving. It has to be a problem you’re living. When you see a problem collaborate with people and then things will happen.

Make sure your writing is ready to be seen. You have to commit to multiple drafts.

Please tell us about your most recent book! Where did the idea come from and how is it shaping (shaped by) your current work?

Student-Centered Coaching from a Distance. Wrote over a series of retreats. Coaches needed help with remote learning. Fastest and easiest book we wrote ever.

Podcast: balance of US & International

Partners of international schools, matchmakers between schools who are all doing student-centered coaching


Level Up Your Coaching with The Coach!

If you are ready to develop your coaching practice over the next academic year, and explore topics like transitioning your work from individuals to teams, please join us for our next cohort of The Coach!

Wherever you are in building a coaching culture in your school, The Coach will give you the strategies, skills and tools you need to make coaching a success and will empower you to confidently apply instructional coaching strategies in any situation – from building a coaching program, to having coaching conversations, to being a leader in your school community. We facilitate only one cohort each academic year so we can offer individualized support for each participant.

Registration for our next global cohort opens on the 21st of February and closes on the 14th of March.

Find out more at: https://edurolearning.com/coach/