TIES Inclusive Education Roadmap

Coaching for Inclusive Practices

Coaching for inclusive practices is essential to bridging the application gap between professional development (PD) and teacher or administrator practice (Darling-Hammond et al., 2019). It is also essential for building a system’s capacity to use evidence-based inclusive practices with fidelity.

Joyce and Showers (2002) describe coaching as the key to successful implementation of new practices. Their findings indicated that even high-quality PD sessions alone did not translate into high rates of implementation. In fact, only 5% of teachers who received PD sessions alone consistently implemented new practices. Creating and implementing your coaching plan is an essential part of initial implementation efforts.

  • Which skills will be targeted for coaching support?
  • How will you make clear connections between the content of PD sessions and coaching?
  • How often will coaching sessions occur initially?
  • How will the frequency of coaching sessions be adjusted as implementers gain proficiency?
  • What are the implementer’s responsibilities in the coaching process? What will they do to prepare for coaching sessions and after completion of a coaching session?
  • How will the coach document the feedback provided to the implementer? 
  • How will we know coaching is effective? 
  • How will coaching data be used with our continuous improvement cycles?
  • How will we monitor adherence to the coaching service delivery plan? How often will the plan be reviewed?

(Adapted from SISEP, 2015)

Evidence-based coaching supports generalization of practices from PD sessions to use in districts, schools, and classrooms. The coaching process includes: 

  • a pre-meeting to identify focus areas,
  • observation in practice, 
  • modelling practices,
  • collecting data to inform the follow-up feedback and reflection,
  • providing feedback, and 
  • goal setting that are data-based.

Equally important is the ability to build positive relationships with the coachee and team members.

Glance through this document for examples of what this looks like in practice!   Roles and Responsibilities of an Inclusive Education Coach

  • Relationship-building strategies to build coach-coachee rapport 
  • Observing for target skills:
    • Use of evidence-based practices (EPB) for inclusive education
    • Active participation in collaborative planning meetings
    • Effective and ongoing use of data
  • Modeling Instructional Skills for the coachee, including:
    • EBPs for inclusive education
    • Co-planning and facilitating collaborative learning
    • Data collection and data-based decision-making
    • Relationship-building strategies
  • Providing performance feedback for the coachee, including:
    • Presenting formal or informal data about the coachee’s use of specific EBPs for inclusive education
    • Building capacity rather than providing “the answers”
    • Sharing feedback effectively:
      • Specific and timely
      • Goal focused
      • Related to both strengths and areas for growth
      • Respectful and empathetic

Because effective coaching is such a powerful driver across many professional areas, many tools have been published to support effective coaching practices. 

If the coach is supporting a collaborative team, such as co-teachers or grade-level teams, these tools provide a protocol for the pre-meeting and the feedback meeting: 

If the coach is supporting an individual educator, such as a special education teacher or occupational therapist, these tools provide a protocol for the pre-meeting and the feedback meeting: 

For both teams and individuals, the TIES Inclusive Education Classroom Snapshot provides a means to go into an inclusive classroom and in a 15 - 20 minute period gather data regarding instruction and the engagement of all students, including the student with significant cognitive disabilities. Having data to anchor a post-observation meeting on instructional practices, whether with an individual teacher or co-teaching team, creates deeper discussions on strengths and areas for growth and co-developing specific next steps. 

Frequently, a coach is supporting several coachees and collaborative teams simultaneously, each of whom are at different points in their coaching cycle. A tracking system for coaching implementation is useful for tracking implementation of coaching and for determining fidelity of implementation. 

Here is an example of a coaching tracking tool, Coaching Service Delivery Plan Template (SISEP, 2015) PDF .  Sometimes districts or schools create their own tracking tool on a shared spreadsheet so data around the implementation of the coaching can be obtained. 

When evaluating the fidelity of implementation of coaching as an EBP and a Capacity Building Driver, look at:

  • adherence to the essential ingredient of coaching,
  • the quality of the coaching,
  • the dosage (frequency and duration) of the coaching to affect changes in practice, and
  • the responsiveness of the coach to the needs of the educator or administrator who is being coached (Pierce & Ferguson, 2018).

The Effective Coaching: Fidelity Tool Rubric (Pierce & Ferguson, 2018) provides a means to assess the degree that coaching is being utilized in an evidence-based format.