When Teachers Thrive, Students Thrive: Creating the Professional Learning System that Makes the Difference—Part 2.2: Instructional Coaching

March 14, 2024

By: Lee Kappes, Ed.D, Interim Executive Director at the Danielson Group

At the Danielson Group, we are committed to transforming professional learning to empower teachers to be their best. That is why, as educators and leaders, we must prioritize Instructional Coaching as a fundamental aspect of our professional learning systems. When approached with care and focused planning, instructional coaching supports transformative, intentional, and purposeful change that realizes student success and school-wide improvement.

Instructional leaders and school systems can put systems and practices in place that promote inquiry, innovation, dignity, and joy—grounded in the Framework for Teaching—to build the knowledge and skills of coaches and leaders to better support teacher learning and student growth goals.

The Role of Instructional Leaders and School Systems In Coaching

In the pursuit of building equitable, accessible learning environments and experiences for all, instructional leaders and the systems in which they operate play a vital role. At its best, instructional coaching aligns and connects district and school priorities to the key instructional strategies, methods, and curriculum resources teachers are expected to use. Building upon this idea, the Danielson Group’s five guiding principles for professional learning mentioned in the introduction to this blog series, provide insight for how best to approach instructional coaching. We suggest leaders and coaches consider the two guiding principles Symmetrical and Generative as you plan for and implement your Instructional Coaching model:


The components of effective teaching and learning are as important for adult learners as they are for students. The mindsets and approaches we want teachers to take with students, (asset-based, high expectations, culturally relevant, data driven) are just as important when planning for the learning of our colleagues.


We ultimately want our students to become the drivers of their own learning – able to produce and apply their new knowledge and understanding forward leading to more success. The same is true for teachers. Their professional learning (self-reflection and collaborative inquiry) should move them forward in applying their new learning for better outcomes for students in an ongoing manner.

In the same vein, the instructional coaching experience, should provide teachers with the same Social-Emotional Learning supports that we prioritize for students:

    • A sense of belonging in PLCs

    • Access to and acceptance from a supportive coach

    • A collaborative process for observation and asset-based feedback

    • A psychologically safe environment for coaching conversations

Take Coaching Further With The DG’s Intellectual Engagement Course & Resources

The Framework for Teaching: Intellectual Engagement Course and Guide with its companion tools, are informed by our conversations with educators, our experience as an organization, and what we’ve learned from our partners. We provide our current thinking, recommendations for reflection and practice, and suggestions for professional learning on the topic of intellectually engaging instruction—specifically delving deeper into the importance of knowing and valuing students and enhancing learning experiences through social and emotional development and academics. We urge you to earn more about the coaching and reflective resources and tools below:

Student Intellectual Engagement

This course provides a deeper learning into the Framework by exploring high leverage improvement strategies and a subset of FFT components central to each topic. In this course, we focus on nine components of the Framework for Teaching that are central to student intellectual engagement. Offered both in blended models and asynchronously, participants learn the importance of knowing and valuing students, modeling mindsets for learning, and enhancing learning experiences through social and emotional development and academics.

Self-Assessment and Reflection tool

The Self-Assessment and Reflection tool can be used in multiple ways and for a variety of purposes.

    • As an opportunity for individual teachers to reflect on their practice by focusing on one, or all eight, of the FFT components that are critical to effective student engagement.

    • By grade level and/or department teams, or an entire staff to gauge how teachers are doing engaging their students, and where support might be needed.

    • As a way to gauge teacher growth and progress from a beginning point to an end-point (and along the way), whether it’s the beginning/end of the year, or as a readiness indicator at the launch of an inquiry cycle.

Though teachers may ultimately deliver instruction alone, their approach and practice is always enhanced by collaboration with colleagues through activities like instructional coaching. The Danielson Group team is committed to partnerships where we have the privilege of collaborating with leaders and educators to help build respectful and challenging learning environments in their school communities. Our team works with teams to prioritize social and emotional skills in all learning environments that will, ultimately, support the development of compassion, empathy, honesty, respect for others, wisdom, courage, and a sense of justice all along an educator’s professional learning journey.