Becoming a Coach of Coaches

by Lauren Short, an Art of Coaching Conference presenter and guest blogger 

        When I first started coaching coaches, I remember thinking a lot about transferring my coaching skills from working with teachers to working with their coaches. In other words,

how do I coach a coach?

At first I focused on the technical skills coaches need to have: creating an agenda, communicating roles and expectations for the work, managing their time wisely, creating a coaching plan, and having a few tricks in their bags to actively coach teachers during observations.

The above are essential to getting your coaches ready to be effective with their time and work. As we all have probably experienced, understanding your role and managing your time wisely can be the biggest challenges of any job in a school— and most likely in life. Being a coach of a coach means that you have to help your coach manage their work and the nuances of being a coach.

As a coach of coaches, there are many things you must anticipate supporting. You have to help coaches navigate the emotions others are experiencing, their own emotions, the challenges of hierarchy and organizational structure, communication, and gaps in curriculum/staffing.

I soon realized that using my Art of Coaching training was essential to supporting my coaches’ effectiveness in the difficult role they played within our organization’s infrastructure.

To effectively coach a coach, you have to first think of the varying environments in which your coaches will need support and then set goals within those big “buckets.”

For example, a coach may need support honing in on the highest level for a teacher to focus on a technical skill. However, the coach will probably also need support in facilitating deep reflection so the teacher can also own his learning. This is more facilitative.

In essence, I found that our goals could be placed into several important categories of growth: analyzing and prioritizing data, developing plans, communication, assessing effectively, instructing others, and supporting the organization.

Once these were identified and clearly explained, I was able to piece together a rubric using varying resources that clearly defined the expectations and points of progress for each of the categories.  

In my session “Becoming a Coach of Coaches” at the Art of Coaching Conference in February, we named key levels for someone who is coaching coaches to utilize with their teams. We identified current resources you have available in your organization, shared resources that support coaching coaches, practiced writing a coaching plan specific to a coach, and practiced a coaching feedback session with a “coach.”

I will leave you with some questions that are helpful to think about when analyzing your role as a coach of coaches.

  1. What structures, resources, tools, professional development, etc. are in place to support and define coaching in my organization?
  2. How do I define my role with the development of coaches and/or coaching?
  3. What am I currently using to plan feedback to a coach? Am I planning with a goal in mind? If so, what does that process look like? What resources am I using to determine the arc of learning for this coach?
  4. Am I currently providing feedback to a coach on their own coaching of teachers? If so, how do I plan for those conversations? How do I identify the focus for that conversation? What are my strengths/ challenges in these types of coaching conversations?


The views and opinions expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the official opinion or position of Bright Morning or any of its employees.