For the final #coachbetter episode of Season 5, Kim shares a recap of the key highlights from this season and a peek at what we have for you next season. 

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1: A big year

Season 5 (academic year 2023 – 2024) featured a lot of big accomplishments for me…


In December, my very first book came out, called Finding Your Path as a Woman in School Leadership, co-written with the amazing Dr. Christina Botbyl and published by Routledge. Although this was a huge project, I feel like it was such a gift. I never intended to write a book when I began the women who lead conversations, but now that it’s finished, I can’t imagine not having done it. If you want to hear the behind the scenes story of the book, who it’s for, and why you might want to read it, check out episode 226 – our book launch podcast. We’re also hosting a free read along on our substack right now! Find the link at


At the same time, my chapter in the IGI Global Handbook of Research on Critical Issues and Global Trends in International Education came out. That chapter is called Fostering a Culture of Growth and Belonging: The Multi-Faceted Impact of Instructional Coaching in International Schools – and it is inspired by all the conversations I have on this podcast – and features many quotes and stories from conversations you may have heard here. It shares the foundational underpinnings of the Thrive Model for Sustainable Instructional Coaching – which I developed for international schools specifically. It’s also the first published chapter about instructional coaching in international schools in the world! Find it at if you’re curious to read more!


Also this year, we launched the Association for the Advancement of Instructional Coaching in International Schools. A non-profit (501c3 registered in DE, USA) dedicated to amplifying the impact of instructional coaching in international schools. We are working to empower educators, cultivate thriving communities and unlock student potential through advocacy centered on instructional coaching. This organization is a membership community for individuals and schools ready to develop instructional coaching practices and programs – specifically in an international school context. To learn more about AAICIS, listen to our launch party episode, it’s episode 236. And you can learn about AAICIS at 

Big Return to Public Speaking

Throughout all of this, I’ve also been excited to get back to speaking at events, like the EARCOS Leadership and Teacher’s conferences. At the EARCOS teacher’s conference we even had enough educators to run a whole pre-conference on instructional coaching. It’s clear that coaching is growing (again) in the internationals school community – and I’m here for it!

The Coach 

Along those lines we had the biggest launch of The Coach Certificate and Mentorship Program ever this year – with multiple teams of coaches from different schools join us. Plus we now have a pre-course, Getting Started as an Instructional Coach for those who aren’t quite ready for The Coach yet, and a post-course, Coaches as Leaders, for coaches who are ready for the next step. We are here to support you in all stages of your journey as an instructional coach! You can find all of our course offerings at

All of those events have made it so clear that there is so much more interest in instructional coaching in international schools and that has led to a change here on the podcast too!

2: Coaching Calls & Case Studies: You are Not Alone

Within all of those big events, we also added some new features to the podcast: coaching calls and case studies. 

After having so many conversations with clients in my various programs, especially The Coach Certificate and Mentorship Program, I realized how important it was to share stories of other coaches and educators moving into coaching roles.

It can feel so isolating to be an instructional coach – especially if your school has never had the position before, or you’re the only one at your school or you’re moving to a new school. As you listen to these, I hope you take away a key message: you are not alone.

These conversations have been a wonderful way to highlight the work of aspiring and current instructional coaches in schools around the world. Providing time and space for those educators to reflect on their practice and share their experience with a wider audience has been a huge highlight of this season for me (and I hope for you too!)

Being able to hear about what coaching looks like in practice in different schools, hearing about the personal journey of coaches who have grown into their roles in different ways hopefully gives you some insight into what it might look like for you – as you consider your journey into coaching.

Some highlights from those conversations were:

The way Kristen Cameron, an ELD TOSA in Santa Cruz City Schools, and graduate of The Coach Cohort 6 (episode 213), shared how when she wanted to scale the impact she could make as a coach, she realized just how isolated she was in her school district. She said: “I don’t want to just know what’s happening at the public school just like mine school down the road, I want to know what schools are doing all over the world to look for innovative practice to help me find the things that will be the best fit for my district and make the biggest impact.” It’s that global connection that can help you find the best practice to make the right impact in your setting.

She also talked about “Finding her no” and figuring out what will be the most impactful, prioritizing that list and then confirming that with my supervisor has empowered me to say no or maybe later. 

As a graduate of The Coach, she highlighted how important it has been to go back and refine the vision and purpose of their coaching program, beginning with Clarity (which is the first phase of the Thrive Model for Sustainable Instructional Coaching that we use inside The Coach).

One of the coaching calls that really stands out in my mind is the coaching conversation I had with Danieal Longanetti, who just moved into a coaching role this year after being an elementary classroom teacher for the majority of her career (episode 217). 

This episode is such a wonderful conversation and reflection about the move from classroom to coaching. Danieal says “After 16 years as a teacher, I’m going to walk into this coaching role that’s completely new to me and I feel there are so many different elements of the role. I don’t want to drop the ball and let people down. I want to lead them the way they need to go. It’s a huge transition.” 

This sentiment is so relatable – it’s the way many new coaches feel. If you’re moving into a coaching role next year, please know that you are not alone – it is a whole new skill set, and you can learn it (that’s what we do in the Getting Started as an Instructional Coach course – which Danieal ended up taking after this conversation).

If you’re new to coaching, make sure to listen back to that episode (it’s episode 217). You might find that our conversation unpacking those thoughts and working through those concerns really resonates with you. Plus, you also get to hear an actual coaching conversation, to listen to the way it flows, the way questions and paraphrasing is used, and the way we work towards building capacity, rather than dependence. 

If you want to hear more live coaching conversations, there are quite a few in the How to Have a Coaching Conversation mini course in our Coaching Essentials series – you can find those at

Another episode that really stands out to me is the case study conversation with Sasha Robins, an instructional coach at BBIS in Kuwait. Shasha and I have been working together since 2019, and this conversation about intentionally slowing down coaching conversations has been a shining star in my mind since we recorded it. It was actually the topic of one of our coaching conversations and that conversation was so valuable, I asked if she’d be willing to come on the podcast to share it.

On the episode, Sasha says:

“When you’re rushing you miss steps along the way. The desire to do things that seem urgent right now is very reactionary, which forces you to have to go back again. If you aren’t intentional from the start, you wouldn’t have to go back and course correct. Go slow to go fast. There’s no shortcutting a process, it’s there for a reason. It’s not a rigid thing, but it’s important to be intentional.

Instead of trying to please the teacher, now I understand that there’s a bigger picture that we’re serving, it’s the kids. When we have that in mind, we can ask teachers to pause.”

This is the message that has been resonating with me for months. When we want to do work with purpose and intentionality, we can’t rush. Despite the pressure we might feel to move faster, sometimes we have to resist and lean into slowing down.

I keep thinking about the Seinfeld episode where George Costanza realizes that if everything he does is wrong, the opposite must be right. Not to say that everything you are doing is wrong, but that sometimes the opposite of our gut feeling might be right. What might happen when instead of rushing through something today, you slow down and take your time? What would happen to the outcome? What might you uncover in the process? How would others feel when they are around you and you are taking your time with them? There are so many layered impacts to this thought process that I am taking with me every single day since this conversation.

Those are just three of the coaching calls and case studies that we had on the podcast this season – there are so many more…

On a coaching call with Marcie Lewis, a PYP Coordinator (and graduate of The Coach) who’s bringing a coaching lens to her practice, we talk about how to balance the compliance aspects of the coordinator role with a more teacher-agency-driven coaching approach. This is episode 222

On a case study conversation with Nicola Millward, Instructional Coach (and graduate of The Coach) we talked about how she built the coaching program at her previous school from scratch – and what she learned about her practice when she took time to reflect inside The Coach. This is episode 228

On a coaching call with Cary Hart, ES Learning Information & Technology Coach at Carol Morgan School in the Dominican Republic (and a graduate of all three of our certificate programs: COETAIL, The Coach and Women Who Lead) we talk about designing systemic solutions to complex problems. For all the edtech coaches out there – this one is for you, it’s episode 232

On a case study call Tracey McGillian, K12 Instructional Coach with a speciality in edtech (also a graduate of The Coach Certificate and Mentorship Program, we talk about the importance of moving from being reactive in your coaching role to learning how to be proactive – and how this gave Tracey so much more time and focus back in her day. This is episode 240

And our final client conversation – kind of a cross between a coaching call and a case study was with Paula Plaza-Ponte, former teacher, and now Membership Engagement Coordinator at AAIE, we talked about making the move away from full time teaching, and what it feels like to have identity foreclosure and make a big pivot – especially when you’re a perfectionist. That’s episode 244.

3: Interviews

Of course, we still feature interviews with inspiring leaders to help push the thinking around instructional coaching forward.

These conversations are one of my favorite ways to continuously learn. 

  • Sometimes it’s learning directly through the experience, expertise, or perspective, 
  • sometimes it’s to see where our ideas align or diverge, 
  • sometimes it’s to consider other perspectives about a topic I’m interested in. 

Every episode is a huge opportunity for learning (OG community members might know that my original professional blog was called Always Learning, that’s the thing I love about education, we embrace the concept of being a lifelong learner). 

There were a few this season that really stand out in my mind…

First, the conversation with Kaitlyn Pettinga, MS AP at the International School of Panama, where she talks about creating a positive school culture through instructional coaching (episode 215).

Kaitlyn says: “The impact of coaching is a sense of belonging. When you’re involved in a culture that is so collaborative around teaching and learning, through coaching, we have teachers and students that feel like they belong.”

This episode, and this quote, has been featured in so much of my work this year, it’s help me put a label to something that has been ruminating in my mind for many years, and helped me articulate a huge element of the value of instructional coaching in international schools. 

Kaitlyn also points out an essential element that makes coaching successful, and a theme that was also referenced in many of the other episodes this season: “As much as I want to have coaching conversations, I know those conversations need to be non-evaluative to allow the teacher to be truly vulnerable.”

Unpacking what makes coaching work is a big theme here on the podcast, and the separation of coaching from evaluation is a huge part of that.

This theme came up again in my conversation with Ji Han, Associate Director of School Evaluation and Support at CIS (episode 220), where Ji points out

“Coaching only works when coaching is not directly tied to appraisal. Coaching and appraisal can be side by side, and enhance each other.”

Ji goes on to say:

The idea that coaching is tied to appraisal is not a good idea. It’s because we’re trying to be efficient. Efficiency helps save time but it doesn’t bring effective results. We need appraisal to ensure that we’re meeting quality standards.

This conversation highlighted one of the issues that comes up all the time, a frustration around coaching is when coaches or school leaders expect coaching to be the solution to every problem. You can’t have a reflective conversation around something you don’t know anything about. Sometimes you need a solution, or it to be modeled. In instructional coaching we have three stances that we use: consulting, collaborative, coaching, so you may be using different stances in a variety of settings. But coaching can’t solve every problem.

And this issue comes up again in the episode Untangling Instructional Coaching, Evaluation & Appraisal with Samantha Olson-Wyman, Curriculum, Teaching & Learning Specialist and Stephanie Cifuentes, Lower School Principal at the American School of Guatemala (episode 234).

On that call, Sam says: “What’s really important to know is that when you’re being evaluated and your livelihood is on the line, it’s not appropriate to say “here’s how you can grow”. Evaluation can’t be untangled from growth. But the growth opportunities that are centered around coaching need to not be tied to your livelihood, that’s not an opportune time for that. “

She goes on to say:

“If you’re an administrator of course you’re a coach, you’re an instructional leader, you have to be able to coach people around instructional practices, but you don’t get to devote all your time on that, which is why coaches are so important – they can focus on that. Coaches have the time and space to do that, but admin still have the instructional leadership responsibility. Success of faculty is shared with us: if there’s a faculty member that needs a support plan, admin shares responsibility.”

And Stephanie adds

“As an admin, if there’s a faculty member in need of support to the level where they’re on a support plan, it’s my responsibility to do everything I can possibly do to help them grow. I want every single faculty member to be as successful as possible. I believe that it’s my responsibility to support them. Coaches don’t share that same level of responsibility. They’re members of the faculty, not administrators.”

All of these layers to coaching, appraisal and supervision are essential to define, and unpack in your school context. This season really highlighted the importance of clarity in roles and definitions – including quite a few of our #coachbetter QuickTips episodes, like 

  • The Importance of Clarity in Your Coaching Role (and Your Coaching Program)
  • 3 Ways to Find Clarity in Your Coaching Role (and Coaching Program)
  • Essential Conditions for Coaching Success
  • Systems & Structures for Sustainable Instructional Coaching

What’s YOUR level of coaching mastery?

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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…

Along the lines of systems and structures for Sustainability, we had a few more amazing interviews,

One with Carla Marschall, Director of Dresden International School in Germany, where she describes all of the structures (and policies) she’s putting in place to build a coaching culture throughout the fabric of the school. (episode 223).

On that episode Carla weaves together systems thinking and organizational awareness with coaching from a big picture lens that will really resonate with school leaders and coaches interested in the big picture of what makes coaching successful. 

Carla says: “Coaching brings an element of selflessness and generosity, listening is an act of compassion because it is about removing the self from us and about providing space for the other individual. If we want to develop organizations that are humanizing but effective, coaching is one of the ways we can do that.”

Another great conversation around systems and structures for success was with Ellen and Bruce Eisenberg, The Professional Institute for Instructional Coaching. We really dug deep into the data around coaching, and the specific structures that make coaching sustainable in any school setting. That’s episode 230.

And a final conversation that highlights the differences in systems for instructional coaching – both positive and challenging between international schools and US public schools – is my conversation with LaTyia Rolle, ES Principal at the International School of Brussels.

LaTyia asks educators to “Think about the person that you see at school that gives you the energy to keep going. We’re always better when we have that person to get us focused, hype us up and pause a moment to help us reflect. We can’t keep doing the same thing, even if it’s working: our students are changing, our families are changing, our world is changing. In international schools, this is happening at such an alarming rate, we have to adjust.”

This is how she envisions coaching and coaches.

4: Aha Moment at EARCOS

This whole year of conversations and experiences has led to a big “aha” moment at the EARCOS Teachers Conference in March….

You’re going to hear more about this in the upcoming year, but I made a connection to (as usual) my experience in powerlifting and nutrition for athletes, where we commonly talk about “women are not just smaller men” You might also be familiar with this in the medical community where often men are the standard by which all interventions are tested (you might have also heard that car companies only recently started using female body shapes in crash test dummies… you get the idea)

Along those lines, international schools are not just US public schools”, abroad. 

Instructional coaching is hugely complex.

And in an international school context can be even more complex.

In addition to the informal leadership aspects of the role (which are often surprising to new coaches), we also have:

1. Consistent teacher turnover

This means we have to build relationships year after year – and often our coaching partners are struggling with doing the same thing. So sometimes it feels like every year we’re starting from scratch all over again.

2. An extremely diverse school community

This means we’re working with colleagues, students, parents and leaders who may have completely different world-views, training, and perceptions of pretty much everything about teaching and learning

3. Host country culture expectations

Along with the multi-cultural environment of our schools, we are also located within a host country culture, which may be very different. Navigating those norms, and managing the “lifestyle experiences” of living in a different culture adds a layer of complexity to how we work.

4. Lack of structural support

International schools can be for-profit or non-profit, but either way they’re usually an independent organization without national, regional or local infrastructure, funding or support. So that means they grow or expand based on their ability to retain or find new clients.

5. Lack of consistency

Each international school is it’s own institution (aside from those that are part of a larger body), which means that it’s unrealistic to expect any consistency in expectation and implementation of the role of instructional coach from one school to the next (this is why we built AAICIS!)

All of this means that international school instructional coaches need to deeply understand the ways to advocate for, plan and implement a successful coaching program – especially if you’re moving to a new school next academic year! 

5: The Next Season

I hope you can see how all of the experiences this academic year, plus the conversations on the podcast have threaded together into another year of continuous learning and growth.

If the podcast has supported you in your professional journey, please tell me about it. Send me a message on social media at @edurolearning – I’d love to hear what’s working for you, and what’s not!

We’re going to be continuing down this path in season 6, with 

  • more case studies and coaching calls, 
  • more amazing interviews, and 
  • more quicktips episodes.

Our first episode of season 6 will air on 28 Aug, but we have something really exciting planned for the summer.

6: Summer Learning Series

For the first time ever we’re going to offer a “Summer Learning Series” called “Refresh Your Coaching Practice”. We’re viewing this as an annual event, and it will be an opportunity for you to reflect on your current practice as well as look ahead and consider opportunities for growth. The series will follow the Thrive Model for Sustainable Instructional Coaching: with episodes on clarity, consistency, and community. And if you’re a subscriber to the podcast, you’ll get the episodes delivered to your podcast player every week in July & August.

So even though we won’t be airing brand new episodes this summer (and of course we’ll still have our summer playlist of our favorite episodes this season for you), we’re revisiting some essential episodes that we’ve curated to help you refresh your coaching practice, year-after-year. This series is structured so you can return to it as you grow, so even if you’ve heard some of the episodes before, we invite you to listen again! 

Ready to Learn More about Instructional Coaching?

If you’re ready to dig deeper into what makes instructional coaching successful – 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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