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Coaching for Success in the Classroom

When you hear the words "coach" or "coaching", what comes to mind? For many, these words will bring back memories of participation in sports. The coach was the leader of the team, and his or her role was to guide the team towards success. The term "coaching" is also very appropriate for describing the function of educators. Today's instructors are encouraged to spend less time lecturing from the chalkboard and more time leading students in discussion and problem solving.

Coaching can be defined as a continuous process of providing students with feedback to enhance, maintain or improve their performance. The coach observes performance, shares knowledge and expertise, and provides encouragement to assist students in reaching continuously higher levels of performance. Coaching enables students to develop their thinking and actions in response to differing situations. The coaching approach encourages learning, growth and teamwork all at the same time.

The overall objective of coaching is to enable individuals and groups of individuals (teams) to broaden, develop and motivate each other to achieve improvement in their performance. Some tips on effective coaching follow.

  • Make sure goals and objectives are clearly defined and reinforced.
  • Provide opportunities for individuals and teams to further develop and improve their skills.
  • Observe and identify ways to enhance both individual and team performance.
  • Provide feedback on individual and team performance. Be specific when giving feedback. Do not just say that something is good or bad.
  • Prepare students for difficult situations or new responsibilities by challenging them and making them leave their comfort zone of learning.
  • Provide a supportive and non-threatening environment. Only allow constructive criticism in the classroom.
  • If it is necessary to provide discipline or sever criticism, it should be done in private.
  • Be supportive, enthusiastic, and positive. The coach's attitude is a predictor of the attitude of the team.

There are several different coaching strategies that can be used. The situation will determine which of the strategies is most appropriate. A few of the most common coaching strategies are described below:

  • Instructing or retraining occurs when students have a new responsibility or are learning a new skill. At this time it is necessary to teach them new technical knowledge and skills that are needed for the them to work and learn effectively.
  • Directing or guiding is used when students have the necessary skills, but need to know how to apply their skills. The coach cannot do the transfer of knowledge for them, but can act as a guide along the way as they are trying to apply skills that they have learned.
  • Prompting is appropriate when students know what to do and how to do it, but they need support to accomplish the task. This is an ideal time to build their confidence and encourage them as they go.

Coaching is a time-critical process. Provide feedback ASAP!


"Coaching for Success." (1987). Development Dimensions International.

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Coaching for Success in the Classroom

Goal Setting

Developing an Interest in Science and Math

Developing Communication Skills

Developing Problem-solving Skills

Effective Discipline

Encouraging Cooperative Learning

Encouraging Creativity

Encouraging Students to Explore for Answers

Fostering Independent Thinking

Motivating Students

Overcoming the Fear of Making a Mistake

Practicing Effective Questioning


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Teaching with the Constructivist Learning Theory

Teamwork in the Classroom

There is Not Always Just One Right Answer

Understanding Different Learning Styles