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Florida Institute of Education

FIE Strategic Coaching

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Developments in technology, early childhood education, and the importance of early learning experiences have refocused the care of young children. In order to increase children's language and literacy experiences and close the readiness gaps between children living in poverty and their more affluent peers, teachers are expected to create rich-learning programs that optimize learning for all children characterized by teachers who

  • are culturally responsive to the children they teach and to their families,
  • not only attend to the care and safety of children but to take seriously the need to help children acquire the knowledge and skills needed to become successful learners,
  • use screening and progress monitoring to guide instruction,
  • ensure children are achieving expected outcomes and performance standards, and create nurturing and safe environments where exploration, questioning, and taking risks are the norm.

What and how much children learn is highly dependent on the adults with whom they interact. Teachers vary greatly in the amount and kind of preparation they have, increasing some children's learning and limiting the learning of others. To level the playing field requires intervention and support through high-quality professional development for teachers. Effective professional development is job-embedded and collaborative, focuses on instruction and learning, extends over a long period of time, and is supported through intensive and ongoing assistance. At the national, state, and local levels, policy makers and educators are looking to coaching as a means of creating rich-learning programs and ensuring all children have the opportunity to learn to read and read to learn.

Addressing a Critical Need

The Florida Institute of Education created and implemented the FIE Strategic Coaching Model to help build capacity of teachers and address the school readiness gap between children living in poverty and their more affluent peers. Initially, the model focused on improving teacher skills in the areas of reading aloud, oral language, letter/sound knowledge, phonological awareness, and emergent writing. The model has now been expanded to address learning in the content areas of math, science, social studies, and the arts. The model also focuses on developing teacher skills in using conceptual development and teacher-child interactions. The foundation for the model reflects findings from the teaching and learning knowledge bases related to: (1) standards of professional development, (2) effective professional development design, (3) coaching and learning science research, (4) early learning literature, (5) leadership research, and (6) novice to expert research.

Intensive and Ongoing Support for Coaches

Beginning in 2002, FIE has implemented summer institutes for coaches. FIE has also provided ongoing professional development and support for coaches through regional meetings, weekly coaching seminars, technical assistance, and site-based consultations. Coaches from Jacksonville, across the state of Florida, and from other states have participated in the FIE coaching institutes.

  • FIE Strategic Coaching

    What Is Strategic Coaching? Workshops, trainings, courses, and conferences build teachers’ declarative knowledge (factual knowledge teachers bring to a task) but are insufficient in impacting what teachers do on a daily basis in their classrooms. Coaching supports the development of procedural knowledge – knowing how to perform a specific strategy; know the steps: what to do first, what to do next. FIE defines Strategic Coaching as the art and science of improving performance of others by providing needed support and tools, building a climate of trust, and creating the conditions needed for ongoing learning for themselves, for the teachers they coach, and for the children.

    Strategies which reflect proven effective instruction are selected to address instructional need and improve the overall quality of the teaching/learning process. The Strategic Coach focuses on how best to ensure the growth and development of teachers – finding the best way to address the needs of teachers and the children within their classrooms – which in turn increases children’s opportunity to learn.

    Six questions give direction to the FIE Strategic Coaching Model:

    1. What do coaches need to know and be able to do to effectively implement scientifically-based research curricula with inexperienced non-degreed, non certified teachers, as well as degreed and certified teachers?
    2. How can coaches be trained in a model that may differ from their own preconceived notions about teaching and learning?
    3. How do coaches convince teachers to systematically use scientifically-based interventions working with administrators, staff, and teachers to improve the learning of the children?
    4. What does effective coaching look like?
    5. How often should coaching occur?
    6. How much coaching is enough?

    With these questions in mind the FIE Strategic Coaching Model was developed. The coaching model elicits explicit behaviors, which are observable and measurable and allows for specific communication and recordable feedback and documentation used to improve teacher confidence and proficiency in implementing effective practice. Two principles undergird the work of the model: (1) Strategies coaches use to increase teachers’ knowledge and skill are the same strategies they want teachers to use with their children and (2) if teachers experience these strategies as a learner, they will use these strategies in their role as teacher.

  • The FIE Strategic Coaching Model

    The FIE Strategic Coaching Model is made up of 5 interrelated structural elements that define the knowledge and skills needed to influence behavior and change teaching:

    • Four Strategic Components which define the areas of expertise, both knowledge and skill, needed to influence the teaching and learning process;
    • Ten Coaching Competency Areas that generally describe what coaches need to know and be able to do to support the work of teachers and ensure fidelity of implementation;
    • Five Coaching Roles when taken as a whole are interdependent and describe the work of the coach;
    • The Classroom Coaching Cycle designed to provide hands-on opportunities to learn that includes demonstrating lessons, practicing strategies, and reflecting and refining one’s own work; and
    • Expected Outcomes which highlight changes in classroom practices and classroom environments that lead to improved outcomes for children.

    The structural elements are designed to influence the knowledge, skills, and dispositions of teachers within the context of their own work. What makes the FIE model unique is that it recognizes that changing practices has two interconnected domains: (1) acquiring needed background knowledge and (2) scaffolding in the form of job-embedded coaching in which coaches model behaviors for teachers to use with their children.

  • Strategic Component 1: Content

    One critical characteristic of effective teaching is deep content knowledge. If we are to teach content to others, we must have developed expertise in content ourselves. To ensure that teachers have deep understanding of the content they teach and the skill to use scientifically-based curriculum, coaches, too, must have deep content knowledge as well as the skill to transfer that knowledge to teachers. They must understand the central facts and the concepts of subject matter, how ideas and concepts are interrelated, the processes to establish new knowledge, and determine the validity of the claims. This knowledge not only affects what we teach, but what we notice, and how we organize and represent information. Two Core Competency areas are embedded within Strategic Component 1.

    Core Competency 1: Content Knowledge

    To enhance children’s conceptual understanding, teachers must have a solid foundation in the subjects they teach. Teachers’ level of understanding is reflected in quality of instruction and achievement of children. Strategic Coaches:

    • Engage teachers in small groups and individually to increase teacher understanding of curriculum content and children’s performance standards.
    • Model for teachers ways to link new information with previous knowledge by helping teachers make explicit links between new content they are learning with teachers’ current level of learning.
    • Explain the “why” for activities and strategies as they are being implemented.
    • Encourage teachers to engage in other professional development opportunities that simultaneously enhance their own career development and build their own content knowledge.
    • Share with their teachers their own areas of expertise and what they are doing to build their own knowledge and skill and what they are learning.

    Core Competency 2: Learning Foundations

    Ensuring quality instruction begins with establishing an appropriate learning environment that includes understanding and use of classroom organization, rituals and routines, instructional materials, differentiated instructional groupings, and effective use of instructional and non instructional time. Strategic Coaches

    • Help teachers develop a productive daily schedule.
    • Model differentiated instructional groups and provide scaffolding support as teachers learn to use them.
    • Model effective strategies for using non-instructional time (e. g., transitions) and provide scaffolding support as teachers learn to use these strategies with their children.
  • Strategic Component 2: Influencing

    Influencing behaviors reflects changing teachers’ knowledge, skills, and dispositions within the context of their classrooms. The ability to influence teachers begins with understanding the beliefs and needs of the teacher, identifying and managing barriers, and jointly determining goals. The ability to influence – create and sustain positive change in others – encompasses related core competency strategies: trusting relationships and collaboration, positive interactions, motivation and reinforcement, active leadership, and acknowledging and accommodating important aspects of the change process. Five Core Competencies are embedded in Strategic Component 2.  

    Core Competency 3: Relationships/Collaboration

    The coach-teacher relationship is a learning relationship in which both the coach and teacher gain knowledge. The relationship is built on mutual trust, shared goals, and commitment to growth and change. It manifests itself in the willingness of both the coach and the teacher to take risks, make mistakes, and accept each others’ strengths and weaknesses. Communication skills, such as [active] listening, empathy, questioning, clarification and reflection, and restatement of content knowledge and feelings are essential to relationship building. Strategic Coaches:

    • Explicitly maintain or enhance teachers’ self-esteem through their actions and words.
    • Listen with empathy to teachers’ concerns, challenges, and needs and respond with strategies teachers can use to address them.
    • Collaborate with teachers to identify and prioritize areas to focus improvement efforts.

    Core Competency 4: Interactions

    Adult-child, child-child, and adult-adult interactions are important aspects of every classroom, impacting children’s security, behavior, and learning. Strategic Coaches:

    • Explicitly acknowledge teachers concerns, interests, and ideas.
    • Increase teachers’ use of questioning and responses to children to promote higher-order thinking skills and extend children’s learning.
    • Help teachers learn to focus on children’s responses and the impact instructional practices have on children’s knowledge, skills, and dispositions.
    • Facilitate conversations to scaffold teachers’ learning and use of language to reflect on their own learning.

    Core Competency 5: Motivation/Reinforcement

    Motivation affects the amount of time people are willing to devote to learning which affects positive change. Preconceived ideas and resistance can be overcome by motivational strategies. Strategic Coaches:

    • Help teachers see the usefulness of their learning and how this new learning impacts what children are learning and doing.
    • Motivate and inspire teachers through collaboration, resolving problems, recognizing accomplishments, and rewarding achievements.

    Core Competency 6: Leadership

    Leadership requires coaches to have the tools to influence teaching and improve classroom instruction. They must have a clear and informed vision of what they want the classroom to look like, translate that vision into goals, develop and implement an action plan and monitor progress, and intervene in a supportive manner when necessary. Strategic Coaches:

    • Help teachers understand the purpose and procedure of coaching.
    • Identify goals focusing attention on improving instruction, develop a plan of action, and monitor progress toward achieving those goals.
    • Identify problems that impede progress and design and implement intervening strategies to solve problems and overcome barriers.
    • Foster a learning community between and among teachers who share information and concerns and who learn from each other as well as from the coach.

    Strategic Coaches are expected to conduct themselves in a professional manner as they work with teachers and staff, colleagues, and families and their children.

    Core Competency 7: Change Process

    In order to effect productive change, one has to understand that change is a process not an event and that a person (adult or child) goes through a series of stages as they adopt new behaviors and practice to automaticity. These stages range from no engagement in activities to full engagement and vary in intensity and expression across the stages. Coaches and teachers must attend to the process of change if, in fact, learning is to occur. Strategic Coaches:

    • Support teachers as they move through the various levels of change.1
    • Provide a series of learning experiences (coaching sessions) while simultaneously addressing related personal “stages of concern.” 2



    Archie George, et. al., Measuring Implementation in Schools: The Stages of Concern Questionnaire (Austin, TX: Southwest Educational

    Development laboratory, 2006).



    George, 2006.

  • Strategic Component 3: Planning

    Planning provides the framework for productive instruction, focuses on important aspects of instruction, and links preparation and implementation with what needs to be done. Planning is intentional, organized, and thoughtful. Two Core Competency areas are embedded within this strategic component.

    Core Competency 8: Setting Goals

    Instructional effectiveness can be improved when specific learning goals for children are set. Goal setting requires teachers to think more purposefully about what to teach and how to teach it. It helps identify missing information and needed materials and also helps maintain focus on critical knowledge to be taught. Strategic Coaches:


    • Help teachers set goals relevant to standards and to what children need to know and be able to do.
    • Help teachers set goals and objectives that tell how goals will be accomplished.
    • Help teachers to understand and explain why the goal is important.
    • Help teachers connect learning to children’s lives outside of the classroom.
    • Help teachers use goals to teach conceptual knowledge as well as letters and numbers.

    Core Competency 9: Using Assessment

    Ongoing evaluation encourages teachers to refine current practice, use assessment to inform practice, and assess the impact of strategies and materials on children’s achievement. Informed decision makers administer a variety of assessments and use the information to adapt instruction to meet the needs of different learners. Strategic Coaches:

    • Guide teachers in the selection and use of both formal and informal assessments and to make informed decisions about children’s needs.
    • Help teachers collect information from a variety of sources about children and use this information to plan instruction to meet the needs of individuals.
    • Help teachers determine the success of their teaching and to refine strategies, as needed. 
  • Strategic Component 4: Professional Development

    A coach plans and implements professional development experiences designed to help teachers improve the teaching and learning process through support in selecting and using instructional materials, providing in-depth content knowledge, increasing teacher understanding and use of effective teaching strategies, and providing sufficient scaffolding support for teachers to master new knowledge and skills and to assimilate knowledge and skills into their daily routine. One Core Competency area is embedded within this strategic component.

    Core Competency 10: Coaching

    Coaching increases the likelihood that new strategies will be implemented as part of teachers' daily instructional routines. Coaches' support for teachers fosters collegiality, deepens teachers understanding of classroom practice, and facilitates the transfer of new strategies from the workshop environment to the classroom. Strategic Coaches:

    • Provide scientifically-based professional development opportunities tailored to teachers' learning needs and aligned with what children need to know and be able to do to become successful learners.
    • Provide support to teachers in their classrooms as they implement research- and standards-based curriculum and increase their proficiency in implementing effective instructional strategies.
      • Model instructional techniques that teachers are expected to adopt in their own classrooms.
      • Co-teach to support teachers as they practice new instructional strategies - allowing for additional practice and observation for what they are hesitant about.
      • Provide non judgmental feedback on what is observed and in a way that encourages teachers to persist through the learning process.
    • Support teachers' understanding and willingness to try out new instructional practices.
    • Create and sustain the conditions needed for ongoing learning by teachers and children.
  • The Coaching Cycle
    Expertise in the core competencies provides FIE Strategic Coaches with the knowledge and skills to plan for and deliver training, influence teaching behaviors by creating learning environments that support the norms of collegiality, collaborate with teachers to implement the coaching cycle, and support the use of effective practice. At the heart of coaching is the modeling/co-teaching process which involves demonstrating effective instruction, immediate practice by the teacher, and feedback and reflection by both the coach and the teacher. The coach takes the leadership role to influence the change process, address issues of resistance, and identify and resolve barriers to effective practice. (Click Here to Download Coaching Cycle)
  • Expected Outcomes

    The goal of the FIE Strategic Coaching Model is to increase teachers' opportunities to learn, practice, and internalize a set of research- and standards-based instructional strategies, thereby increasing children's opportunity to learn and readiness for school.

    Expected Teacher Outcomes:

    • Improved Classroom Practices
      • Proficient users of research- and standards-based curriculum.
      • Increased understanding of what children need to know and be able to do to become successful learners and use that knowledge to design instruction.
      • Use of informal and formal assessment results to address children's needs and guide instruction.
      • Persistence in solving practice-based implementation problems as they arise.
    • Improved Classroom Environments
      • Create quality learning-rich and productive learning environments.

    Expected Outcomes for Children:

    • All children, regardless of their socio-economic situation or neighborhood in which they live, acquire and use skills, knowledge, and dispositions needed to become successful learners.
    • Improved readiness for school.
  • FIE Strategic Coaching: Professional Development

    In order to provide coaches with the necessary skills and knowledge to support teachers’ consistent use of effective teaching practices and increase children’s learning, an intensive institute is designed to infuse coaches with the necessary knowledge bases (learning about something) and coaching skills and strategies (learning to do something) to help teachers develop and implement classroom activities that positively influence children’s learning. The FIE Strategic Coaching Institute is a three-day intensive institute designed to increase participants understanding of the coaching roles, explore the knowledge bases supporting the Strategic Components, practice and become confident in implementing specific behaviors related to the Core Competencies, and use tools for planning and assessing quality of implementation. Participants will engage in an in-depth exploration of the following topics:

    • Focused Improvement: Targeted Instructional Practices (TIP), guides for coaches and teachers that specify instructional behaviors
    • The Coaching Cycle: Modeling, Practice, and Feedback Conference
    • Use of Formal and Informal Assessments to Address Children’s Needs
    • Use of Scenarios to Problem Solve
    • Adult-Child/Adult-Adult Interactions
    • Influencing Behaviors: What I Need to Know and What I Need to Do
    • Beyond Whole Group Instruction: Making Small Group Instruction Meaningful

    Workshops, trainings, courses, and conferences plus coaching supports teachers as they practice new skills and strategies, apply them in the classroom, and build confidence and proficiency in using research-based curriculum.

For more information, please contact:


Dr. Heather Monroe
Faculty Administrator, Associate Director for Program Development and Administration
Phone: 904-620-1486