If you’ve been an instructional coach for any legnth of time, you know that the success of instructional coaching as a program or a culture goes well beyond what one individual coach can do.

As experienced coaches, we need to look at the bigger picture of the culture of the school to see what might be supporting or hindering the success of building the coaching program.

This post highlights some specific prompts to help you think about which of these conditions your school already has – and the ones you might need to work on developing.

If you want to make sure your school has all of these conditions (and that you’re ready to advocate for them), you’ll want to watch our new workshop for experienced coaches, Scaling Your Impact as an Instructional Coach. You can find it at edurolearning.com/scale

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There are many aspects to coaching and how you approach it in your specific school or organization will be influenced by multiple factors that have to be taken into consideration to accomplish an effective coaching program. 

Given the unique circumstances of different schools and organizations, how can you and school leaders address potential benefits and challenges in establishing and implementing instructional coaching?

I’ll share considerations around essential conditions for coaching to be successful. And this will involve taking a realistic look at what you can control and influence – and what you cannot. 

When you think about your coaching role, are you thinking about…

  • How you impact coaching in general in your school or organization?
  • Do you have concerns about  how you can take the initiative addressing challenges in a coaching program?
  • Are you thinking about how to lead and support others in developing and sustaining an effective instructional coaching framework?

Below, I’m sharing some questions that can help you address what conditions you may need to identify as part of your role as a coach and where you may have influence and control. In their recently released book Finding Your Path as a Woman in School Leadership, Kim Cofino and Christina Botbyl share,

“Successful leaders decide where their efforts can have the most impact. Circles of concern, influence, and control are often referenced as a tool used by busy leaders to guide decision making that will positively impact learning within their schools.”

Cofino, K. Botbyl, C. (2023). Finding Your Path as a Woman in School Leadership (Routledge).

We can also apply this concept to instructional coaching.

While the circle of concern includes issues that we have no ability to control, we can focus in on the circles of influence and control and what we can impact directly and indirectly. 

1: Within Your Circle of Control or Influence

First, let’s consider what is in your control or where you have influence and input.

Although you may need to build your confidence and how you communicate with school leadership and the school community, these are areas where you CAN have your voice heard and advocate for others.

 Ask yourself….

  • How are you aligning your vision with leadership?
  • How are you communicating your role consistently?
  • How are you consistent in your practice, so teachers know what to expect?
  • Who are your champions? 

And most importantly…

  • When and how are you advocating within your spheres of influence?

Although this may involve stepping out of your comfort zone, I’ve found when I consider when, where, and how I can initiate conversations or introduce ideas and solutions, I’ve been able to build my capacity as a leader and increase my confidence in advocating for effective instructional coaching.

2: Beyond Your Circle of Control or Influence

However, what about those aspects of a coaching program that we may have little to no influence over or input in? These are where the decision making is held by others. Over time we may be able to have some influence or input, but these tend to be part of the complexity of schools and organizations and rooted in their systems and experience and history with coaching. 


  • What is the culture of the school like? Is it safe to take risks? Growth mindedness? Learning for all?
  • How do teachers interact with each other? Are people collaborative, do they share, is work celebrated?
  • How do school leaders talk about coaching? With respect & value, are they coached themselves
  • What structures are in place to provide time and space for coaching?

Having you ask yourself these questions are not about all the challenges to coaching or to be critical about the role of coaching in a specific school or organization. It is about being realistic and reflective about where and how you can have impact as a coach. You have to also evaluate the impact those aspects may have on your work as a coach and consider how you can promote an effective coaching program. I have found that being reflective and pragmatic about coaching, whether I’m working with individuals and teams or looking at coaching as a framework within a school or organization, I can focus my time and energy on being as proactive and supportive as possible.

You can only influence things in your sphere of control by first being honest about the situation.

In addition to using these questions to guide your reflection and actions, I recommend you utilize Kim Cofino’s “8 Factors That Support (or Hinder) the Growth of a Coaching Culture” graphic which includes aspects like shared vision of coaching, alignment of expectations, measuring impact, and leadership buy-in. While you evaluate or reflect on your coaching program in general with the eight factors, also look through the lens of where you have control and influence – and possibly where, currently,  you do not. 

You can find this graphic in Kim’s chapter  “Fostering a Culture of Growth and Belonging” in Handbook of Research on Critical Issues and Global Trends in International Education).

Additionally, consider these two questions from Finding Your Path as a Woman in School Leadership,  that Kim and Christina recommend …

  1. What is within my control in this situation? 
  2. What small, proactive, or positive action can I take in response?

You CAN have influence and input on those essential conditions for coaching to be successful in your school or organization. You may not be able to check off all the aspects of effective instructional coaching in your school, but by being reflective and realistic, you can get a better sense of where your influence and input will be beneficial and productive

Keep your eyes and ears peeled for more QuickTips and #coachbetter podcast conversations about the sustainability and scalability of your coaching program – we’ll be talking about making the shift to this big picture lens all semester!


Cofino, K & Botbyl, C . (2024). Finding Your Path as a Woman in School Leadership. Routledge.

Cofino, K. (2024). Fostering a Culture of Growth and Belonging: The Multi-Faceted Impact of Instructional Coaching in International Schools. In Barker, M., Hansen, R.C., & Hammer, L. (Eds). Handbook of Research on Critical Issues and Global Trends in International Education. IGI Global.

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Start Leveraging Your Leadership!

No matter how passionate about instructional coaching we might be, ultimately these kinds of systemic structures are outside of our sphere of control, but we definitely have the potential to influence the decisions that our school leaders make.

So many times, especially as international school educators, we’re moving from school to school in the hopes that they have all the pieces in place. Even when we are lucky enough to work at a school that has full time instructional coaching positions, very often they don’t have the structures in place that make the position sustainable. Knowing exactly what’s needed, and being able to advocate for those systems and structures is essential – this is when you really have an opportunity to leverage all the leadership skills you’ve been building as a coach and advocate for school wide change. 

If you’re ready to think about your coaching practice and program from this big picture lens, you’re curious about embracing your leadership as an instructional coach to see the ways that you can scale your impact, make sure to watch our free workshop for experienced coaches, Scaling Your Impact as an Instructional Coach. You can find it at edurolearning.com/scale

After you’ve been a coach for a few years, you know that you can’t just keep working 1:1 with every colleague on staff – that’s a ticket to burnout. Scaling your impact requires that you shift your mindset from seeing yourself as “just a coach” to seeing yourself as a leader, so you can create and advocate for the systems and structures that make coaching sustainable – for you as an individual coach and for your coaching program in your school.

Watch the workshop at edurolearning.com/scale

And, if you discover that you need support as you go through the process, join us for our first global cohort of Coaches as Leaders – designed for experienced coaches ready to advocate for and build the systems and structures that are needed to truly sustain a coaching culture.

In Coaches as Leaders we’ll help you recognize exactly which systems and structures you need (and might be missing in your school setting) so you can make your coaching culture sustainable – and you can scale your impact beyond working 1:1 to working with teams and groups.

Registration opens only once a year! 

Get all the details at edurolearning.com/cal

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

If you’re curious right now, you have questions, please reach out. You can leave a comment below, join our #coachbetter Facebook group, or find us on social media at Eduro Learning and send me a DM.  I’d love to support you on your coaching journey. See you next time!

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