Professional Development Offerings

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Rolling registration


Online Self Paced




15 PDPs

Grad Credit:





Online | Self Paced


All PreK-12 Educators

Introduction to Coaching in Schools: Supporting Professional Learning & Growth through Coaching

Over the past decade, coaching has gained traction in education due to its positive impact on learning and professional growth. The course  will help build a foundational understanding of coaching including  definitions of coaching, a brief history of the field, research on coaching and some ways coaching is being implemented in schools. The course will introduce participants to some prominent coaching models and share some essential skills, strategies and dispositions that are foundational to coaching in educational contexts while also providing opportunities to practice skills that are essential to coaching. Participants will leave the course with a clearer understanding of what coaching is, why it works, and how it can be implemented and will create a “Coach’s Toolbox” that will help them apply what they learn to their own educational context.

Course Learning Goals

  • Develop a clear understanding of what coaching is and ways it is being implemented in education
  • Articulate why and how coaching can positively impact educators and schools
  • Build knowledge of foundational elements of coaching practice
  • Explore different coaching models, frameworks, and processes
  • Examine and practice key coaching skills and conversational strategies
  • Develop confidence in engaging in coaching conversations
  • Reflect on ways coaching can be applied in your role/context.


This workshop is intended for Massachusetts educators of grades K-12.


This online, self-paced professional development course is divided into four sessions: an orientation and three 5-hour content-based sessions. Each content session includes readings, videos, and activities that ask participants to apply what they learn. As a  final project, participants will create a “Coach’s Toolbox” to support their continued growth and development of their new skills.

  • MODULE 1: Introduction to Coaching in Schools
  • MODULE 2: Building Your Coaching Framework
  • MODULE 3: Skills to Develop Your Coaching Practice

Course Outline: Introduction to Coaching in Schools

Module 1: Introduction to Coaching in Schools (5 hours)

  1. What is Coaching?
    There is  a wide variety of definitions of “coaching” and a range of contexts in which coaching is applied (e.g., executive/ leadership coaching, cognitive coaching, sports performance coaching, instructional coaching, and more). This section will provide an overview of the most relevant definitions and applications, and will discuss the definitions and philosophy of “coaching” that drives this course.
  2. What is the Difference Between Coaching and Mentoring?
    Coaching and mentoring exist together on a spectrum of directive and non-directive influence aimed at supporting the performance and development of professionals. Rather than being distinct approaches, mentoring practice can benefit from a coaching approach, and coaching practice is strengthened by a clear understanding and delineation of the goals of mentoring. This section will address the benefits, commonalities, and distinctions between coaching and mentoring, with an emphasis on ways in which a coaching approach can strengthen mentoring practice and programs.
  3. What Does Coaching “Look Like” in Schools?
    Over the past two decades, coaching has come to play a prominent role in school improvement initiatives, in part due to its emphasis on learning that supports positive professional growth and self-efficacy. This section will share some of the various ways coaching is being employed in education.
  4. Research to Support Coaching
    There is a growing body of research that supports coaching in schools. This section will synthesize relevant research and provide an evidence base for the “why” of coaching and a rationale for the development of a “culture of coaching” in schools. This research spans multiple fields including business, organizational development, education, psychology, and cognitive science. Yet coaching, like everything in education, is highly contextual. The research evidence shared here will allow you to build your own case for coaching based on your district, school, and role.

Module 2: Foundational Skills and Practice (5 hours)

  1. Coaching Processes, Models, and Frameworks
    This section reviews a few of the many coaching models and frameworks, summarizing each approach so that you can determine which might work best for your context. While in some cases a particular model will fit the needs of an individual coach, school, or district, in other cases a more agile approach that draws on a variety of possible frameworks or models  will work best. No matter which you choose, there are some common processes that most frameworks/models share. You will learn about these processes to help you determine your own coaching approach and framework.
  2. Foundational Skills
    Committed listening, asking good questions, paraphrasing and summarizing, and giving/receiving feedback are the four core coaching skills we will explore in this section. Through reading, video, and case studies, you will deepen your understanding of what each of these skills involves and you will put some strategies into practice in your daily life to help develop your coaching practice and habits.
  3. Coaching Conversations
    As John Campbell argues, conversations are central to the work of schools (“Coaching in Schools” 131). This section will explain what “coaching conversations” are and connect the skills and habits from the previous section to these conversations. We will also explore strategies for engaging in challenging conversations and for building our capacity to give and receive feedback so that we can increase the likelihood of positive change and build relationships.

Module 3: Reflections and Next Steps (5 hours)

  1. Qualities and Dispositions of Effective Coaches
    This section synthesizes the qualities and dispositions of effective coaches to help you gain a sense of what developing a mindset and culture of coaching will involve. You will determine which of these dispositions are most important to your own role/context and consider ways to develop these qualities as part of your ongoing practice.
  2. Reflections on Learning and Goal-Setting
    What are the most valuable things you’ve learned in this course? This section will help you reflect on the learning outcomes that are most relevant for you and your professional practice. You will also build onto the learning goals you set for yourself by adding action steps designed to help you make progress toward reaching them.
  3. Developing a Culture of Coaching and Planning for Further Learning

This section shares research on “a culture of coaching” with examples from schools and practitioners who are building coaching into schools, both locally and across the globe. You will also explore this question: Where would you like to dive deeper as you continue to put what you’ve learned into practice after this course ends? Resources will be provided by topic/area and pathway to help you continue on in this learning journey, with the goal of helping you find ways to put what you’ve learned from this course into practice.

About the course developer

Dr. Colleen Worrell is the Director for the Center for Innovation in Teaching & Learning at St. Mark’s School in Southborough. She holds an MA and PhD in American Studies from The College of William & Mary. Dr. Worrell has taught social studies, American Studies, US History, and social justice courses at the high school, undergraduate, and graduate levels. She was part of the leadership team that developed and delivered TEC’s Teaching American History grant program. Colleen has also served as a lecturer for Tufts University’s MEd program and as a Technology Integration Coordinator at Hopkinton High School. She has extensive training in coaching in education from a variety of professional organizations including Jim Knight’s Instructional Coaching Group, Diane Sweeney’s StudentCentered Coaching workshop, and Growth Coaching International’s coaching in education foundations program, and has earned an Advanced Instructional Coaching certificate from the Chicago Coaching Center. In her current role, Colleen is a practicing coach, supporting the work of over 35 teaching faculty and drawing on multiple frameworks and models to develop a responsive, flexible system of coaching. She has also partnered with administrators to integrate a coaching approach into the work of instructional leaders. Colleen is excited to partner with districts, schools, and educators who are interested in making coaching an integral part of their practice and school culture.


NOTE: Before registering for this course, please check with your Central Office Administrator in charge of Professional Development. If this course is being offered by your district for free, registration will be accessed via your district.

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