TSR! Coaching Counts

Coaching Counts is a monthly newsletter for TSR coaches and coordinators that offers information on coaching best practices. Throughout the year, the newsletter will focus on important aspects of coaching to continue to help you support early childhood teachers enrolled in TSR.

April Crawford, Ph.D.
April Crawford, Ph.D.
Director, Texas School
Ready! Project

This Month's Playbook

Intensity of Coaching

Remote Control

Remote coaches can manage their intensity through annotations and managing time spent on topics during remote coaching calls. 

Happy New Year! If you recall way back in November, we introduced TSR’s new coaching competency framework, now known as i-CARS (formerly i-CASE). Over the next five months, we’ll be delving a little more deeply into each of these competencies. To kick us off, this month we’ll be talking about the first competency: INTENSITY OF COACHING.

Intensity of coaching refers to a coach’s ability to adjust the level of support provided to match the teacher’s needs in a given instructional situation. As a reminder, below are the key behaviors coaches demonstrate when they are effectively managing the coaching intensity level: 

  • Corrects misunderstanding in content or pedagogy in the moment rather than waiting until the lesson is over
  • Supports the teacher to complete actions on his / her own rather than taking over instruction
  • Interjects an offers clues/tips for modification
  • Focuses on teacher behavior rather than issues unrelated to instruction
  • Clearly articulates / thinks aloud about processes and actions
  • Builds on what teacher is already doing and pushes for more complex and sophisticated thought or action.

Intensity of coaching comes first in our framework not just because it makes a handy beginning for an acronym, but also because it plays a large role in the implementation of the remaining four competencies (i.e., content focus, actionable feedback, reflective guidance, and supportive presence). For example, when coaches are effectively providing actionable feedback, one aspect of its effectiveness is that the feedback matches the level of support needed by the teacher. Think of intensity as the barometer through which coaches implement all coaching strategies.

Goal-setting is an important aspect of managing intensity. Not only is it an appropriately “intense” coaching strategy for advancing teaching skill, but it helps you as a coach focus the level of support needed to achieve the goal in hand. In other words, if you know what you’re working toward, it’s easier to provide feedback and guidance that is well-matched to where the teacher is in the progression of achieving her goal(s).

It’s fairly easy to recognize that different teachers need different levels of intensity, but be careful to not approach this competency with a “one teacher – one intensity” mindset. Managing intensity means fluctuating your support based on demonstrated skill within one instructional situation. For example, even though a teacher may be entirely tripped up by a writing exercise (high coaching intensity needed), the next moment she may very adeptly implement a book reading (low intensity needed). An effective coach instantly recognizes the teacher’s skill in this instructional context and pulls in the reins.

Finally, take time after each coaching session to be reflective about your levels of intensity. Did you give too much, too little, or just enough support? Did you challenge the teacher to move forward in her skills, or did you simply take over instruction? Were you too easy on her? Did you put too much pressure on her? As you’ve probably heard many many times, reflection is key to building professional competency.

We’ll look at the second competency in our framework—content focus—next month. Until then!


  • January Collaborative Calls will take place from January 18-29. Your program manager will be in contact with more information.
  • The next Lunch and Learn is Friday, February 5 from 1:30-2:45 for “Teaching Math to Young Children.”
  • For the February Collaborative Call, video a lesson/activity/segment of a coaching session between February 1-12.
  • It’s also time for MOY COT and CEC assessments! Be sure to complete the COT and CEC with your teachers by March 4.
  • Save the date – the 6th Annual TSR Early Childhood Summer Institute is coming back to Austin on July 6-8, 2016! We are happy to be able to offer scholarship rooms to TSR Comprehensive again this year – more information will be provided soon.

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