Books about Professional Coaching and Instructional Rounds

I love being coached, especially when the coaching is really good. Over the last five years, I have benefited from 1:1 coaching in musical performance, cycling, meditation, business leadership, working with educators, and more. From my perspective, coaching is a natural fit for the noble and challenging careers of teaching and school administration. Think about one teacher, alone in a room with 25 children, for 180 days a year. This is a perfect scenario for professional coaching.

I’ve been doing a lot of spring-summer reading in the areas of professional coaching and instructional rounds. I highly recommend these two books and this fascinating online magazine article.

The Art of Coaching: Effective Strategies for School Transformation by Elena Aguilar. The author paints a detailed, personal picture of the relationship between the instructional coach and the educator who is receiving the coaching. Sprinkled with relevant anecdotes from the author’s school-coaching career, the book acknowledges both the academic and empathetic aspects of the process. It includes practical forms, guidelines, and preparation lists along with more personal, perhaps even spiritual, reflections about the sensitivity of the peer-coaching relationship. I look forward to participating in a two day workshop with Ms. Aguilar this summer.

Personal Best: Top athletes and singers have coaches. Should you? by Atul Gawande. This is an article from the October 3, 2011 edition of the New Yorker by a surgeon and regular contributor to the magazine. Dr. Gawande ponders a conundrum: top athletes and musicians get personal coaching, while he, whose work directly affects the life expectancy of others, does not! In his investigations, Gawande discovers the world of educational coaching through the innovative work of Jim Knight and his Kansas Coaching Project at the University of Kansas, and carries his analysis into a middle school and a specific mathematics lesson. The utter beauty of coaching comes across in interviews with musical divas Itzhak Perlman and Renée Fleming, tied together through a conclusion in the operating room. A must read!

Instructional Rounds in Education by Elizabeth A. City, et al. Drawing from a reference to medical community methodology, instructional rounds facilitate open sharing of professional practice and a culture of continuous improvement. I remember years ago, when Dr. Elizabeth Stage, my boss at the Lawrence Hall of Science in the 1980s, first told me about the lesson study work in Japan which employs similar strategies. As a young educator, it seemed obvious to me that we would want to elevate the professional practice of teaching through this open collaboration. While lesson study has not fully caught on in the US, instructional rounds just might. This is THE book on the subject, and I am just diving in after having been disappointed by a related book, Instructional Rounds in Action by John E. Roberts, which lacks evidence of effectiveness. So, I turn to Liz City, the master herself, and am hoping that her book will deliver everything I’m seeking.

Have you read any of these? Are there other books that you’d like to share?