Learning Leader

Improving Child Outcomes Through Coaching

Through multiple research studies, the Children’s Learning Institute has found that one-to-one, individualized, data-driven coaching tightly connected with facilitated professional development and classroom data results in improved quality teaching and better child outcomes. The goal of this coaching support is to help teachers improve their practice using targeted tools and methods to meet each teacher’s specific needs in the classroom. Coaching, delivered face-to-face or remotely (online), is also one of the core components of our Texas School Ready Comprehensive model, research-proven to positively impact the instructional behaviors of early childhood teachers and the school readiness of the children in their classrooms. CLI’s coaching model is well-known across Texas and has been integral to the quality improvement of thousands of early childhood programs participating in our projects over the past 15 years.

Across the state, many programs are adopting coaching or mentoring to further support teachers’ professional development and positive instructional practices. This year, with support from the Texas School Ready Project, CLI hosted three Coaching Workshops for coaches, mentors, and specialists supporting preschool and kindergarten teachers in Texas public schools and Head Start programs. Previously, CLI was only able to support coaches working with teachers in our Texas School Ready Comprehensive program; this year, we provided training to coaches and mentors from across the state on our proven coaching model and use of our coaching tools, available on our platform CLI Engage. Additionally, many resources are available at no cost on CLI Engage, including videos and printable versions of our coaching tools.

Our coaching model can be delivered effectively face-to-face in the classroom or remotely, through videos, online support, and phone calls. Through our Coaching Workshops, participants learn how to use our coaching model to create coaching plans for teachers based on classroom observation data, assign professional development to meet the teacher’s needs, offer one-on-one feedback, and track goals and progress. CLI has utilized both coaching delivery methods in our programs for almost five years; CLI recently concluded a multi-year research study comparing the benefits of face-to-face and remote coaching for teachers. We hope to share the fascinating results of this research study soon.

Regardless of the delivery method, the goal of coaching support is to help teachers improve their practice using targeted tools and methods to meet each teacher’s specific needs, supporting the teacher’s own skill development and the school readiness of the children in the classroom. We recently concluded our third Coaching Workshop of 2017 that helped to reinforce research-validated practices and methodologies that help achieve goals. Workshop participants received training on our five competencies for effective coaching, exploring these strategies in depth:

  • Intensity of Coaching
  • Content Focus
  • Actionable Feedback
  • Reflective Guidance
  • Supportive Presence

You can access more information on CLI’s Competencies for Effective Coaching.

Workshop participants were trained to use positive mentoring strategies that aligned with the CIRCLE Classroom Observation Tool (COT) to set teacher goals and track progress. The COT is an observation-based tool that measures teaching quality across thirteen areas. Programs eligible for TSR Online have access to the digital version of the COT, which includes a goal-setting system that can be used to develop improvement plans and track progress over time. (This includes Texas public schools, Head Start programs, Texas Rising Star Certified Providers, and public higher education institutions.) The tool captures the presence of key teaching behaviors in thirteen areas through classroom observation. A built-in goal setting system allows teachers to work toward specific short-term goals and track their progress. The system is well-aligned with the Texas Prekindergarten Guidelines and can be used by teachers, school leaders, and intervention specialists to promote effective teaching.

Some other features of the COT are:

  • Item level indicators are highly targeted and focus on evidence-based teaching behaviors that research has shown improve child outcomes.
  • The design ensures age, linguistic, and cultural appropriateness.
  • Reporting features provide a clear, unbiased system for tracking and monitoring teacher performance and progress for improvement.
  • Video exemplars of more than 200 key instructional strategies give teachers opportunities to view examples of quality instruction.
  • Includes the Administrator-COT (A-COT), an abbreviated version of the tool that helps administrators focus their observations.

Visit CLI Engage to learn more about the COT and access free, downloadable resources:

  • Printable COT, observation form, and short-term goal report
  • Short COT overview training course
  • Video exemplars of 20 COT strategies

Participants were also trained on the CIRCLE Classroom Environment Checklist (CEC). The CEC focuses on the presence and quality level of instructional planning tools (e.g. lesson plans, progress monitoring tools), meaningful literacy and print centers and materials (e.g. letter wall, availability of books), and the overall design and management of the classroom and individual centers. Programs eligible for TSR Online also have access to the digital version of the CEC.

Visit CLI Engage to learn more about the CEC and gain access to free resources:

  • Printable CEC
  • Photographic exemplars of all items on the CEC, to help guide classroom set-up

We look forward to conducting more coaching trainings in the coming months. Please continue to check our website for upcoming events: https://www.childrenslearninginstitute.org/events

Thousands of Texas programs can also access the digital, integrated versions of these tools on CLI Engage at no cost. Learn more here.


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Children's Learning Institute at UTHealth
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