By |Published On: May 7th, 2020|Categories: Evidence Based Coaching|

Education’s New Frontier: A Call to Coaching Excellence

Guest Bloggers:  Kathy Norwood, EdD, PCC and Mary Ann Burke, PhD, EdD, MFT

For the past two decades we have devoted our research and work to the goal of bridging professional coaching with educational coaching.  Executive and business coaching is widely respected and well-funded. Companies hire the best of the best, most often credentialed coaches, to develop the potential of promising employees. They know that skillful coaching can significantly improve the company’s bottom line.

Compared to corporate coaching, educational coaching is still in its infancy in many ways. Current coaching practices are more consultative in nature, where a more experienced individual shows and tells others how to implement new learning.  In some situations, this is a needed intervention, but it is not coaching. We believe that coach training for educational leaders and coaches is sorely in need of an upgrade.

Commissioned by the Gates Foundation, Brown, Stroh, Fouts, & Baker (2005) found that, “The large majority of coaching programs in education appear to be a-theoretical in nature . . . it was rare that an organization presented a specific theoretical model that structured their coaching work” (p. 114).  Coaches simply tend to do what they think makes sense for their schools. Current educational coach preparation lacks rigor in training and monitoring of coaches and coaching programs (Brown, Stroh, Fouts, & Baker, 2005; Burkins, & Ritchie, 2007; International Reading Association, 2004; Reiss, 2007). Individuals without any type of coach training or known level of coaching competence often call themselves coaches (Brantley, 2007; Terrell & Hughes, 2008). Our own research revealed that principals may appoint individuals to positions as school coaches, or teachers step into coaching positions, simply because they are strong teachers and are respected by their peers.

To put this into perspective, what if an air flight controller with little training or experience was put in charge of a busy airport tower?  Would they have the confidence and skill to manage this complex high-pressure environment? How much could pilots trust their guidance?

Certainly, most schools hire teachers and leaders who have gone through a rigorous credentialing process learning both theory and practical applications of their work. Indeed, they should be held to a high standard of preparation, given that they are responsible for preparing future generations to take their place in the world.

Educational coaches are the exception to this practice. There currently is no requirement that they be trained or credentialed as coaches. We believe that educational coaching is a distinct profession in its own right and should be treated as such. The profession of coaching has its own skill set that takes years of practice for one to become effective. Educators face unique, high stakes challenges, and they need well-trained leaders and coaches who have the knowledge, experience, and temperament to help them navigate those challenges.

Coaches who graduate from programs that are evidence-based, grounded in theory, research, and practice start their jobs on Day 1 with the knowledge and supervised experience to succeed. Coaches who lack this foundation are more likely to guess, stumble, and hope that it all works out.

Coaching for equity may be the thorniest and most critical issue that educational coaches will face in their careers. We aspire to train the next generation of extraordinary educational coaches who will be up to the challenge of transforming educators’ minds and hearts so that schools will serve as a place of inspiration for all students without exception.


Brantley, M.E. (2007).  Executive coaching and deep learning.  (Doctoral Dissertation). Dissertations and Theses Database.  (UMI No. 3255517)

Brown, C., Stroh, H., Fouts, J., & Baker, D. (2005). Learning to change: School coaching for      systemic reform. Mill Creek, WA: Fouts & Associates, LLC.Burkins, J. M., &

Ritchie, S. (2007).  Coaches coaching coaches.  Journal of Language and Literacy Education, 3(1), 32-47.  Retrieved from

International Reading Association. (2004).  The role and qualification of the reading coach in the United States: A position statement of the International Reading Association.  Newark, DE:  International Reading Association.

Reiss, K. (2007). Leadership coaching for educators. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press.

Terrell, J. and Hughes, M. (2008). A coach’s guide to emotional intelligence: Strategies for          developing successful leaders. San Francisco, CA: Pfeiffer.

Kathy Norwood, EdD, PCC –

Kathy is a national educational consultant and founder of Coaches Evolve. As a professional coach (PCC), she envisions bridging the profession of coaching with educational coaching. She currently teaches for Fielding’s Evidence-Based Coaching Program and provides Leadership Coaching for TNTP. Since 1996, Kathy has helped districts implement systemic changes that enhance learning and develop leaders with the capacity to create and sustain their work. Kathy provides evidence-based coaching workshops, guides districts in developing coaching frameworks, and provides coaching to educators. Kathy practices and teaches “cutting edge” professional coaching, based on her expertise in a wide variety of methodologies and strategies. She believes this is essential for next steps in school reform.

Mary Ann Burke, PhD, EdD, MFT

Having earned a PhD in Medieval and 20th Century French Language and Literature from the University of Wisconsin, Madison, Mary Ann taught as Professor of French for many years at major universities.  She earned her Ed. D in Educational Leadership and Change from Fielding Graduate University. Licensed as a Marriage and Family Therapist, Mary Ann specializes in helping clients look at deeply embedded subconscious beliefs and values that may sabotage their best efforts. She applies her knowledge and skills as a therapist toward developing transformational coaching theory and practice that may be applied in working with individuals and organizations.

Kathy and Mary Ann co-authored the first collaborative dissertation in the history of Fielding Graduate University, Transformational Coaching in Education: A Collaborative Look at the Bridges and Barriers to Learning. They also co-authored “Chapter 22: Education,” in The Handbook of Knowledge-Based Coaching: From Theory to Practice, San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass, 2011. Their most recent publication is Chapters 15 and 16 in the book, Innovations in Leadership Coaching: Research and Practice, 2020, Fielding University Press.

For more on Fielding’s EBC Coach Training Program, see

#coach #ebc #fielding #coachtraining #coaching #evidencebasedcoaching

About the Author: Terry Hildebrandt

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