Celebrating Coaching Cycles

Ending a coaching cycle means it’s time to celebrate all of the learning that has occurred. Acknowledging the hard work and results of what took place reinforces the coaching relationship and provides energy for teachers to feel seen and valued. In her book, Collective Efficacy, Jenni Donohoo writes, “Celebrations help highlight the power of working together as a team, which sets a great example for teacher teams contributing to the development of the collective efficacy of change leaders,” (2017, p. 91).


An Example from First Grade Reading

The following conversation between an elementary instructional coach and teacher provides an example of how we reflect on the progress that was made. Here, the coach has just completed a cycle with a first grade teacher who was working on a goal around the standard of retelling text with key details. The teacher also wanted to work on increasing student independence during the reading block. As you read their conversation, notice the language that the coach uses to surface how the students and teacher grew in their learning. Also notice how the coach continuously celebrates the work that took place.

Coach: Thinking back to all of your work, what are you most proud of?

Teacher: The students are really improving in their retelling. I’m proud because they have come a long way.

Coach: I agree. The post assessment really showed this. At the end of the cycle, you had 21 out of 28 students proficiently retelling text. That’s incredible! They also grew in their ability to read independently for longer periods of time.

Teacher: I am excited about that growth. The fact that they are sustaining their independent reading is also allowing me to do more running records and conferences. This should help me continue to work with the students who aren’t proficient yet.

Coach: You also made changes to the way you are running your centers. How do you feel those changes have impacted student learning?

Teacher: Since the pandemic, I think my expectations have been off. Now I realize that I needed more structure for independent reading time. Working with you on that really helped.

Coach: I agree. I thought the students might push back when you added more structure, but since you’ve given them choice, they have stayed engaged.

Teacher: I have to keep switching it up. They’ll eventually get bored and I also want to keep them challenged.

Coach: I’ve heard you say that you want this to be sustainable and easy to plan. It sounds like you feel like your systems are working and you don’t need to recreate the wheel every few weeks.

Teacher: You’re right. I didn’t want to have to spend too much time planning centers because it’s such a small part of my day. I feel like what we planned isn’t like that. It doesn’t take too much time.

Coach: That’s great. Now that our cycle is over, I’m still available. Is there anything else that I can do to support you?

Teacher:  One thing I’d like to think with you about is how this looks in nonfiction. Could we do a little planning around that?

Coach: Absolutely. Let’s get it on the calendar. 

An Example from Third Grade Writing

For another example, watch this video of a coach and two third grade teachers reflecting on the growth that occurred during the coaching cycle. Across both examples are a few simple questions that include:

  • How did the coaching cycle support the students’ learning?
  • What did you learn as a teacher?
  • What are some next steps for your teaching? 
  • How can I continue to support you?

A Final Thought

If we hope to create a culture where teachers see the value in coaching, then we need to continuously surface the growth that is taking place in front of us. Celebrating the results of our coaching efforts is one of the ways we can do just that.

© Diane Sweeney Consulting