ADLC teachers’ stories provide a great window to all the experience and collective skills that ADLC has to offer its students. Read more from Vic Mensch.


Success is peace of mind that is the direct result of self-satisfaction in knowing you did your best to become the best that you are capable of becoming.

John Wooden

My previous blog submission focused on the qualities needed to be effectively coached. It’s important to be coachable if we want to become better in our teaching craft. Sometimes the coaching situation is formalized, but it’s often informal coaching opportunities that present themselves: experienced teachers coach younger teachers in their professional lives. Inherent in my thinking is the basic assumption that teachers, whether they have been teaching one year or ten, have the desire to become better teachers and more effective in the classroom.

Today, I’ll outline the qualities important in a learning coach. The Greatest Coach Ever, reflects the impact John Wooden, named the greatest coach ever, had on many lives. Dan Britton stated in the introduction to the book that “John Wooden’s purpose in coaching was to instill greatness in others. He was committed to teaching, inspiring and motivating people, and he empowered his players to do great things.”

Wooden was focused on developing the skills in others, not himself. That, to me, is key! A learning coach, too, is focused on the qualities that will make other good teachers better.

We all know from experience that some coaches are more concerned about themselves than their players. Some coaches are yellers, berating their players in order to motivate them through anger and embarrassment. Some coaches seem to view their players as chess pieces to be manipulated and maneuvered in order to bring the coach glory. This was not the way John Wooden motivated his players, and is the reason we need a good grasp of the qualities that constitute an effective coach. If I were to model myself after a coach, I would emulate John Wooden.

Here are 10 qualities that I think are important in being a good learning coach. Though these refer quite specifically to athletics, they are easily adapted to teachers and learning situations.

10 Qualities of a Good Coach

  1. Good coaches are a fan of the sport, or—in terms of education—committed to sound pedagogical techniques. Good coaches impart the love of the sport, the love of learning and teaching, and the importance of collaborating with colleagues.
  2. Good coaches care for the well-being and growth of the athlete more than they care about winning. Good coaches facilitate the expansion of a person’s self-awareness. Coaching relies on coachees developing their own awareness so they can set and achieve goals to improve a particular teaching skill. Coaches in this facilitator role must ask the questions to prompt improved awareness in the coachee. It should be noted that coaches rarely give advice—the best advice is created by the person being coached, ensuring a commitment to act on this guidance.
  3. Good coaches are teachers of values, skills, and teamwork. In order to succeed and develop the required skills, there has to be a willingness to work hard, a commitment to growth, a desire to self-discipline, and a dedication to teammates. These are values that teach a sound work ethic both in the classroom and in athletics.
  4. Good coaches are committed to thorough preparation through consistent, well-planned practices. The coach continually analyzes and assesses what’s needed in athletes and teachers to improve skills. It’s important to note that coaching relies on continual performance assessment by the learning coach who continually monitors the teacher’s progress. This assessment informs the coaching intervention and helps direct a continuing strategy of improvement. If we want good schools, we need to help each other, work together, and honestly assess what we need to improve. Learning coaches are very crucial to this process. A good teacher gets better with preparation, attention to detail, and well-planned lessons. No one fares well in the long term when flying by the seat of one’s pants. Students come to expect quality in their learning experience, and that quality comes from the preparation and consistency modelled by good coaches.
  5. Good coaches are confident, hopeful, and realistic in facing the future. A good coach knows that if a team is well-conditioned and well-prepared through skill and teamwork development refined in the crucible of intense game experience, success is inevitable. Good coaches also realize that success comes through hard work, not by magic.
  6. Good coaches are encouraging. No leader has had a significant impact in the lives of others without instilling confidence through encouragement. In the development and refinement of skills, there’ll always be weaknesses and failures. Good coaches will take these situations and use them as teaching moments without demeaning the teacher or athlete. This is where the development of skills really takes place, leading to the euphoria of successfully completing a skill for the first time.
  7. Good coaches are patient and have a long-term vision. Patience and vision enable coaches to encourage and inspire individuals to endure the setbacks, adversities, injuries, criticism, and heartbreaking failures that every great team must walk through on the road to success.
  8. Good coaches are committed to developing leaders. Just like a sports team can’t function without team leaders, a school can’t function without teacher leaders. A good coach will assist and provide incentive and skill development to a teacher to help that teacher become a leader committed to the personal discipline and work ethic that enables one to lead by example. An athlete must be willing to sacrifice personal ambition for the good of teammates and the success of the team.
  9. Good coaches have soft hearts and hard foreheads, built upon the conviction, courage, and responsibility to make wise, tough choices with which not everyone will always agree. The coach must make hard decisions about who will start, who will be cut, who will redshirt, and what roles each player will have.
  10. Good coaches are teachable – lifelong students of the game.

The purpose of coaching is to improve an individual or team’s performance for their personal benefit as well as for the benefit of the organization. Through the use of caring learning coaches, teachers will become more effective, students will learn more productively, and school results will improve. This creates a culture of collaborative learning and student satisfaction.

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