This #coachbetter episode is another in our series of coaching case studies, with one of Kim’s amazing clients, Tracey McGillian. These case study episodes are designed to share the story of a coach, and the development of their coaching program and practice in their unique setting.  Tracey is a graduate of The Coach Certificate and Mentorship Program, and Kim has been working with (and the rest of the coaching team at her school in Pennsylvania) for several years.

In this conversation Kim and Tracey talk about the evolution of the coaching program at PASD, and her own personal growth as a Tech Coach. Tracey made a big switch in her mindset and professional practice as a coach – from being reactive to being proactive – during her time in The Coach and that was a huge game changer for her!

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Tell us about your coaching journey – where did you start, and where are you now?

I’ve just completed my second year as a K-12 Instructional Technology Coach. Before that gr6 science teacher for 17 years.

When I first assumed the role, I found myself in the position of a reactive consultant. I wanted to help teachers with all their tech-related issues, regardless of whether they were directly related to tech integration or not. I felt a sense of responsibility to resolve any problems they faced to establish credibility. 

After starting the Coach Certificate and Mentorship Program, with my 1:1 sessions with you as my coach, I was able to make a total mindset shift which made my year last year and this year totally different for experiences for me as a coach. I realized that in order for teachers to truly transform their learning, it wasn’t going to be the result of me running into their room and connecting a Whiteboard. It was going to be a learning partnership that allowed us to collaborate on ways to increase student motivation, participation and progression.

I remember the conversation from last spring where you said: “what they see you doing is what they think your role is”. That was an “aha” moment, I’m just making this worse & worse with every action I take.

My coaching partners are going to feel a renewed excitement for teaching if we work together collaboratively on goals to increase student motivation, participation, and progression. Making this my focus allowed me to change my own behaviors to exemplify this focus and clarify my role.

What does coaching look like in your school right now?

I’m part of a team of 4 coaches and we are district level coaches, not building level coaches. We support 1 k-1 Center, 3 Elementary Schools, a middle school, and a high school. Based in the admin building. We have different strengths. Recently Kelly has been diving into Building Thinking Classrooms, diversity is a strength in the groups. We’re all really different and we work really well together.

Our coaching approach has evolved from serving mostly teachers who requested support, to embracing the belief that “Everyone Deserves a Coach.” This motto drives our efforts to make coaching accessible to all teachers and administrators, creating a culture of continuous improvement and equitable support. We have really embraced this concept of community of learners.

Not that everyone needs a coach, everyone DESERVES a coach

What makes that work? What’s challenging in that environment?

By adopting this inclusive approach, we can provide more teachers with the support they need to develop their skills and positively impact student outcomes. Mutual respect supports our aim to create a learning-focused culture, where coaches aren’t fixers but collaborators encouraging growth. We’re united in supporting student success.

Coaching is inclusive, we’re including everyone, including administrators, administrative assistants. We’re creating a culture of “everyone learns”.

What’s challenging: Managing time amidst diverse teacher needs across K-12

grades and all subjects is a challenging task.

I know from our work together in The Coach, that when you first started as a coach, you felt like you had to have all the answers and solve all the problems for all your teachers – especially in the tech support area. What was that like?

The situation was extremely daunting. I found myself constantly thinking about resources and tech tools, even waking up at night to gather more for sharing. I also frequently watched YouTube videos to familiarize myself with our tools. However, our one-on-one meetings helped me realize that such time-consuming tasks weren’t sustainable or effective. At first, I felt compelled to have all the answers and act as the tech troubleshooter, but that feeling shifted.

One benefit of being reactive was that it did allow me to build relationships and trust with teachers and exposed me to the prevalent issues they were facing.

Your work today is very different, how did you make that switch?

The switch occurred as I shifted my focus from being a Reactive Consultant to a Proactive Coach. I used every opportunity I could to model ways we could work together in a coaching relationship. One PD I delivered to all the buildings was modeling a reflective coaching conversation with the whole group to determine their just right next step towards student centered learning. Changing the focus from the flashy tech to this specific coaching conversation shifted the perception of my role. The teachers were not seeing a tech expert anymore…they were seeing a partner in learning.

One of the milestones from the coach allowed me to dig into my data more. I was excited to see my data at the end of the year. We were very intentional with the data we collected, so I knew I would get a lot out of reviewing it.

One of things we tracked was types of coaching. After looking at the data, I was happy to see that my consulting and coaching conversations were in sync. I thought that I was consulting a ridiculous amount, so tracking that data was really helpful.

The thing that’s different this year than last year is working alongside people for a long period of time. To see their excitement when they’re observed by an administrator and they get positive feedback. Recognizing how their professional growth is positively impacting student learning.

As a teacher, you get a lot of feedback from students, but you don’t get that kind of feedback

How do you measure data?

A big aha moment was when you asked me: What do you want to get out of this. What information do you want to get? We found what was important for us. It’s not data we’re collecting for anyone else, but for our coaching program and what we want to do with it.

In terms of collecting the data, in order for us to actually collect it, it needed to be succinct. We knew we weren’t going to be able to keep it up if it was a long form.

5 questions MS Form, grade levels, type of coaching, subject area, focus of the coaching (district initiative alignment) – made it easy to track

Combined with outlook calendar, color coding for different things – made it easy to

How did you correlate this with student assessment data?

We got the idea of the graphic we shared with the school board from another member within our cohort: number of teachers we worked with, number of teams we worked with, number of students impacted

Consolidated who we’ve coached with per building, to see how many coaches they worked with

Students are taking benchmarks right now, so we can look at student assessment dta

This is a collaboration between coach and teacher and administrator 

What did you mean by not getting a lot of feedback from adults?

Because I had been working with students for 17 years, it was easy for them to just fill my bucket. I knew that my teaching was working. When I moved into the coaching role, as a consultant, it’s not fulfilling because I can do tech support and then I just leave. But now, when you’re working together, side-by-side, you identify a goal together and complete it, that is such a great feeling

Transactional interactions are very cold. Starting with a coaching question that leads to specific challenges, just opens up a completely different door.

What’s YOUR level of coaching mastery?

All coaches go through various stages of coaching mastery. Once you identify where you’re at, you can begin to build the skills needed to move to the next stage.

This quiz is based on real-life case studies compiled from years of working with coaches inside The Coach Certificate & Mentorship Program!

When you receive your results, you’ll also get your matching case study from the STRIVE Case Studies to see where you fit in the stages of coaching mastery.

Ready to tackle your challenges and move on to the next level in YOUR coaching practice?

The STRIVE Model of Coaching Mastery quiz will help you identify your level of coaching mastery by matching you with case studies compiled from years of working with coaches inside The Coach Certificate & Mentorship Program so you can easily see where you fit!

You’ll go straight to the Quiz, and get the Case Study Document via email.

Show Notes continued…

What has your coaching looked like this year?

A pivotal moment this year is when I provided the PD on taking a step towards student centered learning but using a reflective coaching conversation for the whole group. I modeled that for everyone and they started to realize that I know more than just tech.

From that point on, I am in way more relationships that are long term. My calendar is mostly filled with recurring meetings with teachers to check in on goals and help model new tech. Some really fun meetings, and meetings that are way more talking together.

I was excited to look at my data from this year to help me figure out my focus for next year. I collected data on the types of coaching I was doing, for example consulting, coaching conversation, co-planning, modeling and I was happy to see my coaching conversations were

equal to my consulting. This was a big difference from last year. I have really enjoyed working alongside teachers for long stretches of time and seeing their excitement with their own growth.

What have been some aha moments in your role over the course of the year?

The biggest thing I learned is because I have a passion for edtech, I want to dig deep into it and I want to fire hose that information to people. To be effective do not do that.

Do not overwhelm the teacher with excessive information about an edtech tool just because I’m excited about it. Instead, start conversations where the teacher shares their struggles

and barriers. Use coaching questions to help them discover their own solutions. Don’t persuade them with my ideas; let them like the idea because it’s their own. Offer support during integration without needing to know all the intricacies of every edtech tool. Focus on listening to the teacher and helping them take the next step towards trying something new.

Because I’m so much more comfortable, I can truly see the teacher and genuinely listen. If I can sit there, see them and hear them, they’re going to reach out to you again.

It’s like a switch was turned on, going through the coach, talking to you, talking with my cohort, I feel like it’s super natural for me to sit down with a teacher and just start a coaching conversation and that leads me to be a better listener to meet them where they are.

Don’t overwhelm, sit back, listen to what their needs, are and ask the right questions, and, at times let them solve their own problem.

What are you thinking about in terms of refining your practice for next year?

My learning journey this year was about going from a reactive consultant to a proactive coach. In being a proactive coach, to continue to bring clarity to my role, I want to focus more on co-planning, through sharing a graphic with options for co-planning For specifying co-planning, I might make it specific to subject areas. Any creativity tools: canva, book creator, student portfolios.

As a coaching team, we’re focusing on one goal: shifting to student-centered learning. Having that one goal is going to help be more streamlined and cohesive for teachers while leveraging each of our strengths.

Thinking back over your first years as a coach, what do you wish you knew before you started? 

Looking back, I wish I knew that it’s okay not to have all the answers. The role of a coach is as much about listening and learning as it is about teaching. Immerse yourself in your own professional development. Join the next Coach Microcredential cohort. The content is so helpful and the learning community that is created in your current cohort, previous and future cohorts will be a group of educators you can always count on.

What’s one thing you would recommend all new coaches do to be successful in their role? 

I would suggest that everyone immerse themselves in professional learning, like The Coach. The cohorts are a group of educational professionals 

You modeling how to be a coach is an integral part of my comfort

My recommendation for new coaches be present foster strong relationships with teachers, staff, and administrators. Understand their needs, communicate effectively, remember – it’s a partnership. You’re there to support and inspire, not to direct.

Ready to Learn More about Growing as an Instructional Coach?

If you’re ready to dig deeper into your growth as an instructional coach – or if you’re new to instructional coaching and you’re curious about getting started, join us for one of our courses for coaches!

To learn more about these options, we have three FREE workshops to share with you today.

For New or Aspiring Coaches

If you’re just getting started as a coach, and you want to be successful in your early years, watch our New to Coaching Workshop, which highlights the key mindset and skill set shifts you’ll need when moving from the classroom to a coaching role. The workshop will also tell you all about our online course, Getting Started as a Coach. This course is specifically designed for classroom teachers who are moving into a coaching role so you’re prepared for the transition. It’s focused on exactly the skillset & mindset shifts you need to so you can be successful in your first years as an instructional coach. 

For Experienced Coaches

If you’re already a coach & you want to think about being more intentional & strategic in your practice, watch our workshop on the Thrive Model for Coaching Success which will help you evaluate your program and your practice to see where you may have room to grow. You’ll walk away with a clear picture of exactly what you need to focus on to build a thriving coaching culture – and help you decide if our year-long mentorship and certification program, The Coach, is right for you, right now. This program is designed for current coaches who are focused on building a coaching culture through intentional and strategic coaching work at all levels – with teachers and school leaders.

For Coaches Ready to Lead

For experienced coaches ready to look at the bigger picture of the school to see what might be supporting or hindering the sustainability of the coaching program, and you want to make sure your school has all of the systems and structures in place, watch our workshop: Scaling Your Impact as an Instructional Coach. You’ll get a bird’s eye view of what’s needed to make coaching sustainable for you as an individual coach and for your school. When you’re ready to put that learning into action, join us in our online course for coaches ready to lead: Coaches as Leaders and put it all into practice – with support from Kim and our global cohort! This course is designed for experienced coaches, ready to lead.

You can find all the workshops on our coachbetter website at

Wherever you are in your coaching journey, we can support you!

For All Coaches

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