Best Practices

4 Strategies for Coaching Relationships

Read Time: 4 minutes
Kathy Loeffler
Regional Professional Development Manager, Teaching Strategies
A teacher reads to a small group of children while a coach looks on
September 15, 2021

What is a coach?

Coaches need many skills to instruct different talents. A great coach is an intentional relationship builder, model, observer, communicator, helper, and collaborator to raise up their talent.

Personally, I love team sports! I love to watch a group of individuals come together, rally around each other, execute a plan, and use their talents to be the best. Most successful sports teams have a great coach, a coach who has built supportive relationships. She has modeled new strategies and viewed the team from all angles to see how all the athletes work together and where there are areas for improvement. A great coach communicates with her team, shares new ideas, and questions current practices; she is a helper, unafraid to get deep in the work with her players. She collaborates with her players and others, reaching out for new ideas to bring back to her team.

Coaches for educators do all these things for teachers to elevate their practice, execute a plan, and provide the best learning outcomes for children. To do their best at all these different skills, coaches need a positive, collaborative style and the right preparation.


What makes a great coach?

In his Harvard Business Review article “Leadership That Gets Results,”1 Daniel Goleman said that coaching is a style with “markedly positive” impact on climate and performance. He also states that “the ongoing dialogue of coaching guarantees that people know what is expected of them and how their work fits into a larger vision or strategy,” such as “I believe in you, I am investing in you, and I expect your best efforts!”

As an instructional coach, you will inspire, motivate, listen, guide, and model as part of your role in supporting teachers as they implement any new solution like The Creative Curriculum and GOLD.  Your primary responsibility is to support teachers’ professional growth by collaborating with them. An effective coach advocates for and supports the work of teachers, working with them as a peer and learning partner for the purpose of improving instruction for children.

How can you prepare yourself to be a great coach?

As you begin your coaching journey, preparation is key!  Is the school year just beginning?  Are you just starting to work with the teacher, or do you have an established relationship?  Is this teacher new to The Creative Curriculum or GOLD?

  1. Think about your coaching relationship.
    • Get to know the teacher, help in the classroom, and observe informally.
    • Have conversations about how coaching relationships work.
    • Establish a preferred means of communication (e.g., email, text, phone call)
  2. Use the Coaching Teachers to Fidelity Tool as a starting point.
    • Visit the classroom to get a sense of the teacher’s strengths and areas for improvement.
    • The tool helps you identify the degree to which teachers are implementing The Creative Curriculum or GOLD with fidelity and provides coaching strategies.
  3. Establish coaching goals together.
    • Engage the teacher in a discussion about their professional goals.
    • Keep realistic expectations and set achievable goals with the teacher so they can see progress.
    • Determine times and dates for your visits.
  4. Get ready to support the teacher.
    • Locate strategies in the Coaching Teachers to Fidelity Tool.
    • Review any suggested Teaching Strategies resources prior to your visit.
    • Look at the suggestions for what you might say or do to support the teacher and think about what you are willing and able to accomplish.

Coaching takes dedication and focus! It is a dance—one step forward and sometimes two steps back, but it is a relationship that can tell a beautiful story. I cherish my coaching years and the relationships built with educators.

two teachers conversing in a classroom

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1Goleman, D. (2000, March–April). Leadership that gets results. Harvard Business Review.