Moving Up a Weight Class – From Coaching Light to Coaching Heavy

I first heard the terms ‘Coaching Light’ and ‘Coaching Heavy’ when I was reading a post on Difficult Conversations over at Always Learning. If you haven’t heard the terms before, they come from the book Coaching: Approaches and Perspectives by Jim McKnight in a section written by Joellen Killion. She

assert[s] that there are two kinds of coaching – coaching light and coaching heavy. The difference essentially is the coaches’ perspective, beliefs, role decisions, and goals, rather than what coaches do… Coaching light occurs when coaches want to build and maintain relationships more than they want to improve teaching and learning. From this perspective, coaches act to increase their perceived value to teachers by providing resources and avoiding challenging conversations. (p. 22)

Coaching heavy, on the other hand, includes high-stakes interactions between coaches and teachers, such as curriculum analysis, data analysis, instruction, assessment, and personal and professional beliefs and how they influence practice… Coaching heavy requires coaches to say “no” to trivial requests for support and to turn their attention to those high-leverage services that have the greatest potential for teaching and learning. Coaching heavy requires coaches to work with all teachers in a school, not just those who volunteer for coaching services. Coaching heavy requires coaches to seek and use data about their work and regularly analyze their decisions about time allocation, services and impact. (p. 23 -24) (emphasis added)

I have started looking further into this idea of Coaching Heavy. I read the first chapter of the book on Google Books. I found another article by Joellen Killion on the same topic. I found another instructional coach who is making this same transition. After reading the distinctions between the two, I knew that Coaching Heavy is where I wanted to be.

But now comes the hard part. How do I make that transition? How do I engender the required sense of collaboration and preparation required not only by me but by the rest of the staff? How do I impose myself and my new-found interest in Coaching Heavy on those around me? How do I make Technology Integration a priority for others as well as myself?

The first thing I need is a plan of action that takes into account the questions above as well as the culture of my school. When I get to that stage, I’ll let you know. In the meantime, if you have any suggestions or comments please feel free to let me know.

(Note: I just read that the Laptop Institute is soliciting calls for proposals for their 2010 Institute. Is this something that could work as a workshop?)

Image: Watching the Detecto by massdistraction licensed under CC BY NC ND