In the past decade, interest in the form of professional learning loosely described as coaching has exploded. This growing interest in coaching is likely fueled by educators’ recognition that traditional one-shot approaches to professional development — where teachers hear about practices but do not receive follow-up support — are ineffective at improving teaching practices. Much more support is needed to help teachers translate research into practice, and for many districts, that support is coaching. DEFINITION What is coaching? Researchers and practitioners have described several distinct approaches with unique goals and methods. Peer coaching (Showers, 1984), classroom management coaching (Sprick, Knight, Reinke, & McKale, 2006), contentfocused coaching (West & Staub, 2003), and blended coaching (Bloom, Castagna, Moir, & Warren, 2005) are just a few approaches. Three

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Bloom, G., Castagna, C., Moir, E., & Warren, B. (2005). Blended coaching: Skills and strategies to support principal development. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press.

Bush, R.N. (1984). Effective staff development. In Making our schools more effective: Proceedings of three state conferences. San Francisco: Far West Laboratory.

Cornett, J. & Knight, J. (2008). Research on coaching. In J. Knight (Ed.), Coaching: Approaches and perspectives (pp.192-216). Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press.

Costa, A. & Garmston, R. (2002). Cognitive coaching: A foundation for renaissance schools. Norwood, MA: Christopher-Gordon.

Edwards, J.L. (2008). Cognitive coaching: A synthesis of the research. Highlands Ranch, CO: Center for Cognitive Coaching.

Knight, J. (2007). Instructional coaching: A partnership approach to improving instruction. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press.

Knight, J. & Cornett, J. (2008). Studying the impact of instructional coaching on teacher practice. Article in preparation.

Lenz, B.K., Bulgren, J., Schumaker, J., Deshler, D.D., & Boudah, D. (1994). The unit organizer routine. Lawrence, KS: Edge Enterprises.

Moran, M.C. (2007). Differentiated literacy coaching: Scaffolding for student and teacher success. Alexandria, VA: ASCD.

Showers, B. (1984). Peer coaching: A strategy for facilitating transfer of training. Eugene, OR: Center for Educational Policy and Management.

Sprick, R., Knight, J., Reinke, W., & McKale T. (2006). Coaching classroom management: Strategies and tools for administrators and coaches. Eugene, OR: Pacific Northwest Publishing.

Toll, C.A. (2005). The literacy coach’s survival guide: Essential questions and practical answers. Newark, DE: International Reading Association.

West, L. & Staub, F.C. (2003). Content-focused coaching: Transforming mathematics lessons. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann. 

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Jim Knight ( is a senior partner at the Instructional Coaching Group and a senior research associate at the University of Kansas Center for Research on Learning.

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