Instructional Coaching: 4 implementation challenges and how to defuse them

By: Josh Goodrich and Arielle Boguslav, retrieved from

Every school we know of that has ‘successfully’ implemented Instructional Coaching changes something about their coaching programme every single year. Implementing instructional coaching isn’t a finite challenge that you can eventually complete. Instead we argue that, like teaching, implementing Instructional Coaching consists of ‘persistent challenges’ (Kennedy, 2016a), perennial issues that schools must continually consider and may need to repeatedly address throughout the life of their programme.

What are these issues? Based on conversations with school leaders, our own work implementing coaching across schools and MATs, and key research, we identify four key challenges that drive successful implementation:

  1. Professional Culture: How can we develop a culture of openness to feedback and commitment to ongoing development? (Bryk & Schneider, 2002; Joyce & Showers, 2002; Marsh et al., 2017)
  2. Training: How we can recruit and train a team of skilled, knowledgeable coaches? (Gibbons et al., 2017; Gibbons & Cobb, 2016)
  3. Systems design: How should we structure our programme so that it delivers results in a way that balances with other school systems, and delivers efficiency? (Boguslav et al., 2022)
  4. Responsive Leadership: How can we gather information about what’s happening when our programme is up and running? How can we respond effectively to address issues and deliver continued improvement? (Blasé & Blasé, 2003; Bryk et al., 2015; Coburn, 2001; DeLeon & DeLeon, 2002; McLaughlin, 1987; Nakamura & Smallwood, 1980; Spillane et al., 2002)

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