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More Questions & Answers from the Early Childhood Investigations webinar on Practice-Based Coaching

We hope you enjoyed the webinar The Keys to Effective Practice-Based Coaching presented by Patricia Snyder, Ph.D., Mary Louise Hemmeter, Ph.D., and Lise Fox, Ph.D. on November 10, 2021.

In this Q&A, we’re diving into the questions from listeners that we didn’t get to cover in the live webinar.

Who is the best person to be a coach? Should it be senior staff or someone in a management role?

Coaches using practice-based coaching (PBC) should be those who have knowledge, skills, and dispositions that align with the PBC framework and the effective practices that are the focus of practice-based coaching. They should have experiences working in programs that provide services and supports to infants, toddlers, and preschoolers and families of these children. PBC coaches should be those who can establish and sustain collaborative and equitable partnerships with coachees and implement PBC and effective practices as intended (with fidelity).

As the director of a preschool, I find it hard to coach because I am also my coachees’ supervisor. Do you have any tips for the supervisor as the coach? Or is it better to focus more of peer-based model?

In Chapter 3 of the new book Essentials of Practice-Based Coaching, we discuss issues that can arise and potential solutions to these issues when coaches also have the role of supervisor. In brief, the coach is someone who should be supporting the coachee’s implementation of effective practices through a collaborative partnership, not evaluative or supervisory lenses. We recommend that coaches and supervisors, whenever possible, be separate people. Recognizing this might not always be possible, consider how existing time and roles might be separated. If peer coaching is used in PBC, it is very important that one or both peers have the requisite knowledge, skills, and dispositions about both PBC and the effective practices that are the focus of PBC. In the book, we provide additional tips for separating coaching and supervision.

Our project often struggles with how many classrooms (caseload) is an optimal number for providing effective PBC. What is your recommendation?

In Chapter 9 of Essentials of Practice-Based Coaching, we provide guidance related to PBC caseloads. We situate this guidance with recognition that the frequency of PBC delivery, the amount of time coaches spend supporting PBC implementation, the formats for the delivery of PBC, the effective practices that are the focus of PBC, and the practice-focused strengths and needs of coachees for the effective practices that are the focus of PBC all affect “caseloads.” We suggest the use of data related to PBC coaching efforts and effects be considered as decisions are made. We provide examples of how we and others using PBC have considered these and other factors to make informed decisions about caseloads (e.g., Table 9.2 in Chapter 9).

Who should write the action plans? Should it be the coach or the coachee with the coach's assistance?

The PBC goal and action plan belongs to the coachee. The role of the coach is to support the coachee as they identify goals and develop the action plan as part of a collaborative partnership. The action plan is the coachee’s roadmap to support effective practice implementation in their practice context. Additional information about how coachees and coaches collaborate to identify goals and write action plans can be found in Chapter 6 of Essentials of Practice-Based Coaching. Resources to inform goal setting and action planning can also be found in the Appendices.

Do you have any advice when constructive feedback is not well-received?

When PBC coaches implement constructive feedback as intended, we have found to be well-received. It is important for those implementing PBC to understand that constructive feedback is not criticism or feedback about what was done wrong. In fact, constructive feedback is positive—it builds on supportive feedback and reflection to help the coachee identify strategies and resources to enhance their effective practice implementation, including maintenance and generalization of practices. This Tips for Providing Constructive Feedback Within the Practice-Based Coaching Framework tip sheet from Essentials of Practice-Based Coaching may be a helpful resource.

What next steps would you recommend for someone who wanted to dive deeper into practice-based coaching? Do you offer trainings?

Learn more about PBC by reading the new book Essentials of Practice-Based Coaching and exploring related resources. Knowledge and dispositions about PBC are important. Based on our research and professional development work focused on PBC, however, we recommend that coaches receive initial and ongoing professional development, including PBC, to ensure they have the competence and confidence to use PBC and the effective practices that are the focus of PBC with coachees as intended (i.e., with fidelity).

Get the slide handouts shared during the webinar.