Coaches Creating Magical Ripples - Steve Barkley

Coaches Creating Magical Ripples

I was recently engaged in an online conversation with instructional coaches that very quickly reinforced my experiences concerning the lack of common expectations for instructional coaches. Some instructional coaches at a district level can be working in schools where different building principals have different expectations from each other and sometimes different from the central office administrator who is facilitating the coaching program. In some international schools where PreK-12 classrooms are on the same campus, similar differences in expectations can exist across the primary, middle, and upper school. When possible, creating the WHY— How— What (Simon Sinek) for an instructional coaching program can dramatically advance the impact of an instructional coach. (Is the Why of Instructional Coaching Being Communicated?)

A coach/principal partnership can set the stage for common expectations with staff for the coach’s work and teachers’ engagement with coaching. (Guiding Instructional Coaching with a Principal Partnership) “The outcome of an effective instructional coaching program should be an increase in student achievement/success. The partnership of the coach and principal is crucial to a program’s effectiveness.  The partnership should reach an agreement on how the coach will invest time in order to gain the desired student learning production behaviors that will generate learning outcomes. While this agreement is not a full description of a coach’s responsibility, it should serve as a prioritizing process for scheduling a coaching calendar.”

How can a coach plan for and assess progress when administrator support or system expectations are not present?  Many school situations experience ongoing changes in school staff and teams. The coach or administrator might be new to the school or staff changes may be frequent and substantial. These conditions are quite common when I work with international school coaches. This can seem overwhelming for coaches sensing that they don’t have enough time and stability or support to create real change. In these cases, I suggest coaches focus on creating a ripple effect building individual teacher’s coaching experiences creating increased coachability.

In this short video clip, Simon Sinek describes how individuals can generate change in an organization when they are not in charge. He describes that by creating small successful groups that become ripples, you begin to affect others. Senik also points out that there is no need to worry about everyone as there is a law of diffusion.

As a coach consider:

  • What can I do to increase individual teacher coachability?
  • How can I increase the number of coaching/collaborative interactions among teachers?


Coachability requires the mindsets and skills needed to gain from coaching input. In an earlier blog, I identify signs of coachability as:

  • the interest and willingness to learn
  • the ability to seek out, accept and integrate feedback without being defensive
  • the demonstration of attempts to try new actions to get improved results

In a blog, How Coachable are You?, Steve Keating identifies these indicators of high coachability.

 “Coachable people are great listeners. They are willing to learn from anyone. They consider all advice; even the advice they eventually discard was considered for its possibilities. The more defensive you are when someone is giving you advice the harder it will be for you to succeed. Keating offers this great way to test your defensiveness. “If after you’re offered advice, you respond with a quick “yes, but?” (or even think it without saying it out loud) it is a good indicator that you’re not listening with coachability.”

The Number Coaching Interactions

Michael Moody challenged the often limited view educators have around who does coaching:

“When we think about instructional coaching, we likely envision a single coach observing a teacher and providing feedback. Perhaps we’ve been short-sighted. What if instead we broadened our definition of coaching to include several engagement points for teachers? After all, coaching is really about targeted and supported reflection of practice.



Share Button
Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Leave a Reply

Blog: Steve Barkley Ponders Out Loud

Share Button
Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Listen to Steve Barkley’s Latest Podcast

Share Button
Print Friendly, PDF & Email

The Academy for Educators

Become an expert in instructional coaching, blended and online learning strategies, engaging 21st Century learners, and more with online PD from PLS 3rd Learning.
Learn more

Share Button
Print Friendly, PDF & Email