Planning for a Successful Launch of Coaching

In the months leading up to a coaching year, so many details can be planned ahead of time for a successful launch into coaching
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About This Strategy

This strategy provides a step by step approach and aligned resources to prepare for a successful launch of a coaching year. Everything to consider prior starting is included in this strategy -- from crafting visions for the coaching role, to scheduling for maximized impact, to creating first meeting agendas. It can be used at any grade level and with any content area in mind.


The effectiveness of this strategy resides in its holistic approach to building culture and structures to support a successful transition into or back to coaching, a step that we can often neglect when pressed by time or when unfamiliar or seeking clarity around a new and complex role.

Implementation Steps

  1. Start by creating your vision for your coaching role. Forget a second about constraints and limitations, and let yourself think about you would ideally like to have an impact on teachers and students this coming year. This will help you create a North Star that you can backwards plan the rest of the year from. If you want a template with sentence starters to help you structure this visioning check out the first page of this Google Doc.
  2. Once you created this vision, print it, frame it and hang it up in front of your desk. You will need to revisit it regularly to ground yourself.
  3. If you were already a coach the year before compare this vision with the last few weekly schedules of your previous school year. What actions in these schedules align with your vision? What actions seem far from it?
  4. Once you have done this comparative analysis, start thinking about ways you could remove unnecessary weight from your schedule and replace it by some of the actions your vision makes you want to prioritize. To remove unnecessary weight, you can categorize things you could delegate to others or simply things you could let go and be at peace with. The first page of this Google Doc template could help you do this.
  5. If it is your first year coaching, you can go straight to the second page of this Google Doc template and schedule your ideal schedule of impact incorporating your key coaching actions. After you created this schedule, write your elevator pitch that will help combine your vision, your school vision and your critical analysis of previous years to help you convince your leadership team of what could be an impactful schedule for you.
  6. Meet with your principal. Assess if they have a vision for your role and if this vision is already translated concretely into a schedule. Often it is not. If it is the case at your school, that this has not been fully defined yet, go ahead and share some of the ideas you drafted in your ideal schedule document.
  7. At this point you should have greatly solidified your vision and schedule for the year. Start planning backwards from there the following elements:
    • The different PD sessions you will lead at the beginning of the year and support others in leading. If possible try to imagine what a full year of PD could look like to reach your vision. You don't have to all the sessions planned, but at least the progression of objectives throughout the year.

    • Your coaching caseload: With whom will you be working 1:1? For how long? What rationale will you have in mind (grade level, content, specific PD initiative, etc…) as you work with this teacher?

    • Your first three coaching meetings structure. It could be very helpful to have a game plan for these first three! The Google Drive folder included as a resource below contains three sample agendas for the first 3 meetings of the year, with videos of coaching sessions.

  8. Have fun coaching! Remember that improvement always happen one cycle of implementation at a time. We call them baby steps but they should really be called grown up steps!
    • The different PD sessions you will lead at the beginning of the year and support others in leading. If possible try to imagine what a full year of PD could look like to reach your vision. You don't have to all the sessions planned, but at least the progression of objectives throughout the year.

    • Your coaching caseload: With whom will you be working 1:1? For how long? What rationale will you have in mind (grade level, content, specific PD initiative, etc…) as you work with this teacher?

    • Your first three coaching meetings structure. It could be very helpful to have a game plan for these first three! The Google Drive folder included as a resource below contains three sample agendas for the first 3 meetings of the year, with videos of coaching sessions.

Planning for a Successful Launch of Coaching During Distance Learning

Caitlin MacLeod-Bluver
BetterLesson Instructional Coach

Coaching teachers in a distance learning setting is not only possible, but all the more important as teachers navigate new ways of teaching and learning in a digital space, explore new technology tools, and strive to build a strong classroom culture from afar. 

Implementation steps:

  1. Launching coaching in a distance learning setting should start with creating your vision for what coaching in a distance learning setting will look like and involve. Explore the resources shared below for ideas about distance learning coaching could look like to help you craft your vision. When you are ready, use the same template shared above to create your vision for coaching. 

  2. Set up initial meetings with your coaching participants to establish norms for distance learning coaching, create systems to share work, and logistics for coaching. Consider using Calendly to have participants schedule this first 1:1 video session with you. If all meetings with participants must occur asynchronously, create videos using Loom or FlipGrid so that participants can see and hear from you. 

    • Distance learning norms might include: assume best intentions (distance learning is new for everyone), a "try it on attitude" (especially as this relates to new technology tools), and norms around virtual meetings (what platform you will use, what to do if you can't make the meeting etc.) 

    • Systems to share work: Consider how you will share meeting notes, documented created, or videos with each other. Ultimately, you want a way to show teacher growth. Consider creating a shared Google folder to hold materials. Logistics: What platform will you use for coaching calls? How will teachers schedule meetings with you? What should happen if a teacher must cancel a meeting? 

  3. If you will conduct observations as part of your coaching, create a plan for how observations will work and whether they will be conducted synchronously or asynchronously. See the strategy Planning an Observation for more ideas. 

    • For an observation of a synchronous learning session, set up the logistics for the observation. Make sure you know the time and have the correct video link. Also, discuss if you will introduce yourself to students in the video call and if you will have your video on. Make sure you know the context for the video call (for example, a live instruction, office hours etc.) 

    • For an asynchronous observation, make sure the teacher will record the session and send the recording link to you. This video could be shared with other leaders or colleagues for learning purposes.  See resources below for steps to record the video session. 

  4. If you will focus on using students' learning tasks and work rather than observations, develop a plan for how the teacher will share all relevant materials with you. This might include the teacher sharing video recordings of student discussions, the teacher sharing access to a class's FlipGrid, or the teacher inviting you to be a member of a class on Google Classroom or SeeSaw. 

  5. A key to a strong coaching relationship is trust and repertoire. Think about how you will build both in a distance learning setting and consider the following: 

    • Creating short videos of yourself using Loom or Screencastify giving the teacher positive feedback. 

    • Sending the teacher a follow up email with praise and next steps after each coaching call. 

    • Reading and discussing articles related to distance learning and the teacher's learning goal together. Sometimes building trust is best done by doing work together. 

  6. Explore ways to document teacher growth in a distance learning setting. Some ideas include: 

    • Recording your virtual video sessions. 

    • Encouraging the teacher to use Loom or FlipGrid to reflect on their growth. 

    • Creating a Google Site or Seesaw, which could serve as the teacher's digital portfolio in which they could reflect on their learning throughout the year. Videos of the teacher reflecting on their learning could be shared here. 

Coach Tips

  1. Always prepare for coaching assuming that a schedule might not have been defined or planned for you ahead of time by somebody else. If it has not been planned then you have already done half the work needed and you will make a strong impression on your principal, because you engaged in some pre-work on how you can best impact students and teachers.
  2. Remember in this plan to make room for building meaningful relationships with your teacher and to build trust. A key there is to define clear expectations for what coaching will be and won't be for you, and to try to stick to these norms in your work. I have not been directly teaching for seven years, but I try to remember every day why teaching felt exhausting and isolating, and then I remember why it is my duty to support teachers to make their role more manageable, collaborative, and exciting.
  3. Plan for ways you will be able to measure your own success or progress throughout the year. Consider the following quesitons to ask yourself throughout the year:
  • How will I know if I am doing a good job?
  • What do I think I are doing well?
  • What could I do better?
  • Who are people I can trust to give me honest feedback throughout the year?