Content-Focused Coaching

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CFC works when school and district leaders understand how it supports the district's mission. We build in regular opportunities for leaders to learn side-by-side with coce student learning.
The IFL's Content-Focused Coaching® (CFC) model maximizes the coaches' role as an instructional support for teachers in a content area. We take a systemic approach to supporting districts in using coaches effectively to advance student learning in ELA/literacy, mathematics, and science. Our work with coaches positions them as learners and instructional resources. Coaches expand their content knowledge, their knowledge of best content-area practices, and their capacity to collaborate with teachers to advance student learning. Grounded in research on teaching and learning, CFC helps
  • Establish trusting and collaborative relationships with teachers and other educators
  • Work with teachers individually and in groups to plan, enact, and reflect on rigorous lessons using lesson planning tools, student work, and other classroom artifacts
  • Teach or co-teach lessons to model instructional practices for teachers and advance coaches' own learning
  • Facilitate ongoing professional learning community meetings in a content area
  • Collaborate with principals to plan and deliver focused professional development sessions in a content area
  • Overlap co-accountability with teachers for student learning
The IFL's Content-Focused Coaching® model has a proven record of improving student achievement and teacher practice. Read more about the research on CFC here.

Content-Focused Coaching Resources

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Content-Focused Coaching for Continuous Improvement in Literacy and Mathematics

Content-Focused Coaching has been shown to improve instruction and increase student achievement, according to "Content-Focused Coaching for Continuous Improvement in Literacy and Mathematics," a research report authored by Institute for Learning fellows and released by the University of Pittsburgh. A unique form of coaching, CFC differs from traditional coaching in a number of ways, as the report details. Along with a description of the key features and outcomes of CFC, the report discusses virtual CFC, the IFL's collaboration with the state of Tennessee to scale up the model across a state, and the kind of support for CFC implementation the IFL provides schools and districts.

Cloud Coaching

Cloud Coaching: Web-Based Learning Holds Promise, Especially for Districts with Limited Resources

Web-based coaching shows significant promise for linking teachers to highly expert practitioners. This is particularly important in districts that cannot afford to hire full-time school-based coaches or to train and support coaches to be experts in all content areas. While web-based teacher professional development shows a great deal of potential for improving practice, research is in the early stages of determining how to best design these experiences to further teaching and learning. This article describes what educators are learning about designing a web-based literacy coaching program based on translating the Institute for Learning's Content-Focused Coaching program to an online format.


Clear Goals, Clear Results: Content-Focused Routines Support Learning for Everyone-Including Coaches

Clear Goals, Clear Results: Content-Focused Routines Support Learning For Everyone-Including Coaches by Bickel, Bernstein-Danis and Matsumura, describes how cognitive routines such as the Learning Lab and cognitive tools such as the Evidence-based Reasoning Tool support a community of teachers and coaches to improve pedagogical practice without resorting to 'hard' feedback, i.e., feedback that may be threatening to teachers. By engaging administrators in defining clear outcomes, by putting their own teaching before others for analysis, and by co-constructing evidence of student learning expected, coaches using the Content-Focused Coaching model (CFC) build a culture of dialogue where teachers can contribute to one another's learning and expand their ability to raise student achievement. Used with permission of Learning Forward, All rights reserved. JSD, February, 2015.

Practice-Based Hiring Process

Using a practice-based hiring process supports coaches to support teachers

The IFL's Performance-based literacy coach recruitment and hiring kit provides administrators with tools and a step-by-step process for recruiting and hiring coaches. The kit assists administrators by providing models and templates that support administrators to organize and work through the process from writing and posting the job description to evaluating candidates who complete interview process. Included are samples of various tasks in which to engage applicants both before and during the interview, criteria to consider in evaluating applicants and candidates, and the rationale behind our ideas so that district-specific modifications can be incorporated.


Online Content-Focused Coaching Workshops

The Institute for Learning (IFL) developed an innovative, online coaching program to help teachers improve student reading comprehension. The IFL has teamed up with DialogeX to deliver this interactive, research-based, professional development program. As a teacher, here's what can you expect from participating in the online workshop:

  • Teachers participate in an eight-week online workshop, collaborating with their peers in the development of lesson plans to employ the evidence-based practices of Accountable Talk® and Questioning the Author that deepen student understanding of text.
  • Teachers receive follow on one-on-one coaching from highly qualified IFL-trained coaches who observe teachers implementing those practices in the classroom.
  • Teachers attend the workshop and the follow on coaching sessions online using the technologies that are already in their hands.
  • Teachers have achieved improved student test scores as a result of Content-Focused Coaching®.

"Professional development I've participated in seems like it just scratches the surface on important strategies or techniques. This workshop allowed us to really participate and apply what we were learning, such as a college course would instead of the professional development I've taken since leaving the university. The rigor was at a higher level than in-person workshops and there were many aspects which added to the rigor-reading articles, watching the videos, applying and receiving feedback."

-Online Content-Focused Coaching Workshop participant

Research on Content-Focused Coaching

The IFL's Content-Focused Coaching® model has a proven record of improving student achievement and teacher practice. Read two important research studies on IFL's Content-Focused Coaching program.

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