Coaching Models That Impact Student Learning

“What are some characteristics of a successful coaching program?”

“How can a school position itself to get the most out of this important resource?”

“On the other hand, what are some predictable failures when it comes to coaching?”

To ensure a successful coaching effort takes support from the educational institution and belief that all students are to gain advantage from its implementation. In order for the school to best position for the coaching role, it must recruit competent hires who are committed to improving student performance. A capable coach should be considered an asset to any organization.

The goal of the coach is to serve with best intentions and provide the capacity for learning and growth, knowing everyone at the institution is a learner, and the work is never done. As articulated in Student-Centered Coaching, The Moves (Sweeney, Harris), there are several coaching models that impact student learning:

  1. Relationship-Driven Coaching
  2. Teacher-Centered Coaching
  3. Student-Centered Coaching.

Each model influences student performance, some more than others.

A coach who chooses to facilitate a student-centered approach will make the most difference in the classroom. A student-centered coach applies core practices to ensure the work gets done effectively.

These practices include but are not limited to:

  1. organizing coaching cycles with teachers
  2. setting goals for coaching cycles
  3. using standards-based learning targets
  4. using student evidence to co-plan instruction
  5. focusing on effective instructional practices
  6. measuring the impact on student and teacher learning and
  7. partnering with the school leadership.  

By applying these practices the student gains best intervention while the teacher grows professionally. The quality coaching effort should satisfy the needs of the educational institution while benefiting multiple stakeholders.

To get the most from a successful coaching effort, the educational institution should hire strategically and/or fund a resource-capable coach. The school administration and coaches should work as a cohesive team to move positively with text, technology and curriculum. Accessibility to coaches is priority as this opens the pathway for partnering with teachers. When coaches and teachers co-plan using learning targets and student goals and administer data based formatives based upon these targets, students gain the best advantage to learn.

Working in any human-based environment is complex. The application of a successful coaching effort must take into account variables and the complex nature involved in human learning and failing. The leadership, coach and school culture need to possess characteristics that build collegiality, trust, support and capacity for relationship building. Teachers and students deserve unconditional respect and belief that all actions by the coach have the best intention.

There are complications which might breach the integrity of this coaching effort. Some examples may include: fear to engage in a coaching cycle, lack of curriculum resources or technology connectivity, not measuring student performance (and hoping for the best), teacher resistance to change, being complacent with relationship-driven coaching, cognitive learning fatigue, and school leadership not supporting or understanding the effort. A quality coaching effort should consider these complications and work to mitigate any issues to ensure students are getting the most bang for their buck.


Sweeney, D., & Harris, L. S. (2017). Student-Centered Coaching: The Moves. Thousand Oaks: Corwin.

About Brent Fullerton

International educator and entrepreneur striving to enhance lives.
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