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Conducting a Coaching Cycle: The Instructional Coaching Series

Chrissy Beltran smiling holding a clipboard on a desk with the words "How to conduct a coaching cycle. 5 Steps to coaching in the classrooms." Are you afraid to work with teachers? Many instructional coaches are. Working with teachers is scary. This is why: 
  • You don’t know if they like you.
  • You think they don’t want your help.
  • You don’t know if you’re good enough to model or coteach.
  • You don’t always have all of the answers.
  • You feel like a fraud.

Ring any bells? Those are my deepest, darkest fears. Here’s what I say to myself to get over it:

I am not here to be the best or to have all of the answers. I am here to support teachers so that they can provide the best possible instruction to kids. No one person has to be perfect; we’re a community of people learning together. We can’t learn together if I don’t put myself out there. 

Still scared? How about this:
It’s your job.

Haha! I know. That maybe didn’t help too much. But the point is that the only way teachers are going to grow is if you can swallow your pride (and fear) and get into those classrooms.

What are Instructional Coaching Cycles?

So what’s the best way to get started? The answer is instructional coaching cycles.
During the coaching cycle, you’ll observe and collect data to better understand teacher practice and improve student learning. Then you’ll use that data to identify areas of growth and professional development opportunities for teachers. Through cycles of professional learning, the instructional coach supports teachers as they implement new strategies in their classroom.
Each cycle is an opportunity to build professional relationships, strengthen instructional practices, and improve student outcomes. Instructional coaching cycles are powerful because they help teachers become better educators – which is what it’s all about!
Don’t hesitate or let fear hold you back! Coaching cycles are the perfect way to get started building professional relationships with teachers and impacting student learning. And try to have fun with them!

Conducting an Instructional Coaching Cycle

Here are a few tips for setting up an instructional coaching cycle with a teacher. You can get more tips in the free download at the bottom of this post!

#1: For your first round of coaching, choose carefully.

Start with the teacher who has some stuff going on but who’d like to try something new. That means DO NOT start with the teacher who doesn’t like you (gasp!) or the teacher who has every single amazing thing going on. Start with a good, solid teacher who’d like to learn a new thing or two about teaching. It helps if they have a positive influence over their grade level, too!

Chrissy Beltran smiling holding coaching invitations that can be used for conducting an instructional coaching cycle.

#2 Invite the teacher to work with you.

There are lots of fun ways to do this such as physical or email invitations, or you could go the tried and true route and just ask them.

Either way, make sure that they know a coaching cycle is…

  • flexible based on the needs and goals of the teacher
  • focused on learning students should be doing anyway
  • usually around 2-4 weeks long
  • scheduled at a time that works for the teacher and coach
  • about learning and growing together
  • fun and purposeful

Get 8 beautiful coaching invitations in my new Coaching in Classrooms resourceOr get a free black-and-white version as part of my free download right below this post!

#3 Plan together. Plan together. Plan together. 

I can’t say that enough times. Plan together for EVERYTHING. I’ll have a detailed post about collaborative planning coming out later in this series, but for now, just know that you need to plan for a few things together:

Collaborative lesson plan editable and printable for conducting an instructional coaching cycle.
  • What kind of service you will provide? Will you model? Will you coteach? Will you observe and provide feedback? 
  • The learning target for the lesson: What do students need to know and do in this lesson?
  • The lesson. This doesn’t have to be really complicated. A simple plan that includes the target, steps in the procedure, and which materials you’ll use should be fine. Embed the vocabulary and the questions in the procedure rather than separating them out. They tend to be forgotten that way.
  • The classroom management plan. Here’s a possible system you can try out if there’s not one in place.
  • What each person will do. I recommend using a three-columned planner to show what is happening during the lesson and what each person’s responsibilities are during that time. This is especially important during coteaching.
  • This editable and printable planner is part of my Coaching in Classrooms resource on TpT!
Need ideas for setting up coteaching roles? Here are a few easy ways to share responsibility!

List of roles for coteaching when conducting an instructional coaching cycle.


#4 Build in time to debrief.

Meet with the teacher after a lesson to reflect on a few things. Have a plan for debriefing.

  • The effectiveness of the plan on student learning
  • What the next steps should be
  • What kind of support should be provided

#5 Work through the instructional coaching cycle together.

If you need to make changes, do it! Don’t stick to modeling for the duration of the cycle, and don’t stick to 50/50 coteaching, either. Change the type and level of support to respond to the needs of the teacher and students.

Instructional Coaching Cycle Checklist and Planner on a desk.

Get the Coaching Cycle Checklist in The Instructional Coach’s Book of Plans & Lists!

Next week, I’m going to share all about how to plan collaboratively. Be sure to check back and read that post, because it’s a BIG one!

Other posts in the Summer Coaching Series: 

Get the coaching menu, a coaching invitation and thank you note, and tips & forms to help you start working with teachers by filling in your email address below!

Coaching Services menu you can use when conducting an instructional coaching cycle.

  • Tips for getting started as an instructional coach
  • Coaching services menu
  • Classroom sweep form
  • Coaching invitations (black and white)
  • Using the gradual release model to coach teachers
  • Coaching plan
  • Observation guide
  • Debriefing sentence starters
  • Thank you notes

You can get them all by entering your email address below!

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  1. Thank you so much for continuing to be this support! I have been following you for the last 2 years since I started coaching and I'm so glad that you're still around!

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