Everyday Instructional Coaching (Book Review)

Everyday Instructional Coaching is not an exhaustive research or theory book (even though plenty is cited). It is a book for school leaders and instructional coaches who want to build a toolkit of strategies to help teams meet the changing needs and demands of learners.

This is a growing book review as I read a chapter every night and share the highlights on this page. Before we get into chapter 1, let me say – Dr. Nathan Lang has written a quick and easy read that packs plenty of strategies to support quality collaboration and improve learning results.

It really is a book all about supporting teacher effectiveness.

Everyday Instructional Coaching

Chapter 1: Collaboration

This is a quick reading chapter that addresses three key factors in building a healthy collaborative team culture…key factors that any coach or school leader can understand and use: diversity, dissonance, and balance.

There were many insights, but I really appreciated the nuts and bolts ideas to help structure collaboration time to make it more effective.

Have you ever provided silence time for your teams? Not just a few minutes to read an article, but a serious 30-minute block of time where teachers really create, work, and produce.

Dr. Nathan Lang explains how this can be a powerful collaboration strategy and offers many more insights in this first chapter.

Chapter 2: Transparency

This blazing-fast chapter on transparency addresses several critical culture blockers that create dysfunctions in coaching-teaching relationships.

It focuses in on the concept of naked service and offers three common reasons why teachers, coaches, and school leaders often resist transparency:

  1. Fear of Losing
  2. Fear of Embarrassment
  3. Fear of Inferiority

The chapter offers excellent tools and strategies (a survey, walkthrough ideas, feedback ideas, etc.) to address these three fears and to build a culture of transparency where teachers, leaders, and coaches are all succeeding, failing, and learning together – right along with the students!

Chapter 3: Inquiry

We talk about inquiry in our classrooms. We know inquiry is great for learning. But then teachers sit through training sessions. Or they’re told, not asked.

This chapter will flip that.

How does a coach promote growth and reflective practice? This chapter posits the third daily driver – inquiry.

“Coaches can help teachers learn and grow not by telling them what to do but by asking questions and promoting inquiry.”

Instructional coaches will love the useful questioning model – Why? What If? How? 

Dr. Nathan Lang provides practical questioning techniques. There are multiple scenarios and examples of questioning to support effective teacher inquiry.

Chapter 4: Discourse

This chapter will really stretch the facilitation skills of instructional coaches and leaders. It’s all about promoting a school culture where discourse is empowering.

The tool? Langauge.

Examples, conversation stems, and explanations are expertly provided. There are four language skills addressed:

  1. Speaking Tentatively
  2. Reconceptualizing
  3. Communicating Purpose
  4. Fostering Intrinsic Motivation

The chapter does an excellent job giving nuts-and-bolts examples for coaches and leaders to use in each of these four language skills.

There is also an audit tool for instructional coaches to receive feedback on their communication skills. And it will be eye-opening![/thrive_accordion]

Chapter 5: Reverberation

It’s beyond well-established that feedback is the key. Feedback for students, for teachers, for programs, ad nauseum. This chapter takes it to the next level in supporting teachers.

Reverberation. My first thought was, “What’s that?” I mean, I know about reverb on my guitar, but?

Immediately this chapter showed how to take feedback and erase the moving targets. Moving targets are usually the ways teachers are left define self-efficacy.

I’d ask you to imagine using a moving target to measure your impact, but we all know too well the pendulums in education.

Reverberation is Nathan Lang’s solution.

And a great solution it is. Feedback layered with feedback, from teachers to teachers, from coaches, to systems. A.K.A meta feedback. Or as the chapter begins, “Feedback and meta feedback processes characterized by consistent dialogue that fosters trusting relationships.”

This quick review cannot do justice to the concept, nor to the tools in chapter 5! Oh, and the tools…

The chapter provides you with templates and examples, including:

  1. Reverberation-cycle tool for teacher and coach to work through feedback together.
  2. Coach reflection tool
  3. Teacher reflection tool
  4. Dialogue examples
  5. Feedback examples

I think you can see, this chapter is about learning together via feedback. But not just a form or a sticky note. It’s about feedback situated in meaningful conversations. And it’s embedded in trusting relationships.

A coach’s role is not only to empower a powerful feedback process but also to promote a culture of trust, transparency, vulnerability, and sincerity.

Chapter 6: Sincerity

This chapter is for the coach. It’s for the instructional leaders of the campus. It’s about becoming the best versions of themselves and leading others to do the same.

I was quickly reminded that Everday Instructional Coaching is not a theory book. It’s not philosophy. Nor is it one-liner cool-quotes. It’s about doing, and chapter 6 gives more easy-to-use tools for leveraging sincerity.

The listen-learn-lead model is a great voice-leveraging tool for leaders to employ. How do you support teacher creativity? How do you promote a culture of innovation? That’s what this tool does.

And memes?

Yes, memes were/are an actual thing long before they were simply a goofy pic in social media. Memes describe the culture and how cultures shift. How can this understanding be used to build powerful school cultures?

You might have to reread this chapter twice or revisit a month later to get the depth of these tools. I’ve read it three times and still know there’s much to be gleaned.

The gist is about self-monitoring and growth goals. The tools in this chapter give leaders a method for shifting thinking in ways that help teachers grow.

Chapter 7: Influence

Instructional coaching is more than showing the how of teaching – it’s about influencing the practices of the school. Influence requires coaches to also focus on the why, what, and where.

Influence can be garnered by consistently acknowledging the fear associated with change and celebrating past ideas that proved to have a positive impact. Other influence strategies include:

  • Couching the New Withing the Already
  • Championing the Dissenters (I know, that sounds illogical, but it’s a powerful point)
  • Repositioning Change

This chapter is a great way to finish a superb book. It’s a book for school leaders – curriculum leaders, instructional coaches, and principals alike!

Preview the book on Amazon (affiliate link) at Everyday Instructional Coaching: Seven Daily Drivers to Support Teacher Effectiveness.

This book is a great balance of practical tips, philosophy, and immediate takeaways with tools…this was such an easy read and a powerful tool for both new and existing coaches.

Jamie Ackart, Assistant Principal, Kansas City, MO