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

Professional Competencies for Coaching

Remote Control

In some ways, remote coaches are limited in demonstrating i-CASE strategies, but in others, you have the advantage. For instance, although you are not able to adjust the intensity of your coaching while the instruction is occurring, you can take a little more time pausing and reviewing your video to give thoughtful and comprehensive feedback.

Welcome back Coaching Count readers! We hope you had a fantastic start to the new school year and are successfully settling into your classrooms. Here at Texas School Ready, we’ve been developing a new framework to guide our approach to effective coaching. We’ll be covering these new “coaching competencies” in depth over the next several editions of Coaching Counts, but we’d like to use this month to introduce you to the new competencies. Get ready for a new acronym: i-CARS!

Intensity of Coaching

Coaches should manage the intensity of their coaching to match their teachers' needs. A high degree of intensity should be directed toward new and inexperienced teachers; as teachers demonstrate more advanced skills, coaches should lower the degree of coaching intensity to reflect their progress. Teachers should be supported to practice and complete instructional actions on their own, scaffolding when needed—a coach should only directly teach parts of a lesson the teacher is unable to handle. A coach should also focus on teacher behavior rather than child or other issues. A coach can increase the degree of intensity by interjecting and offering clues or tips for improving a lesson’s delivery. Intensity also includes clearly articulating or thinking aloud about processes and actions to add to the clarity of coaching. Finally, a coach should always be an active participant when it comes to correcting misunderstandings in content, method, or practice in the moment, rather than waiting until the lesson is over.

Content Focus

At the center of any good coaching strategy is a focus on content that supports the teacher in giving developmentally appropriate instruction. A content-focused coach will regularly reference key learning objectives of the lesson and rarely misses an opportunity to discuss concepts in learning domains appropriate for prekindergarten. Knowing the content areas of the Classroom Observation Tool can help coaches keep a content focus when working with teachers.

Actionable Feedback

A teacher will benefit most from coaching if the coach’s feedback prompts further thought or adjustments in instructional practice. To accomplish this, the coach consistently references specific teaching strategies, practices, and goals from validated instruments such as the Classroom Observation Tool. Rather than narrating or summarizing events in the classroom, the coach spends more time providing suggestions for adaptations or extensions to improve the teacher’s lesson delivery. A key concept to remember is that actionable feedback will always build upon skills to push the teacher toward more sophisticated practice and thought about teaching.

Reflective Guidance

Reflection is one of the most powerful coaching tools, and a successful coach will employ it often. This involves using strong reflective prompts in a timely manner to get the teacher thinking about events that have occurred very recently. The coach should encourage reflection by orienting the teacher to child signals and connecting the teacher’s actions to child responses. Finally, context should be provided by connecting reflective opportunities to standards, goals, or exemplars of good practice.

Supportive Presence

A successful coach encourages and reinforces new skills through positive language (verbal and non-verbal) and tone. Providing a supportive presence also means being able to recognize and respond sensitively if a teacher shows discomfort or resistance. Finally, once a teacher shows understanding of a concept or practice, a coach should be supportive in encouraging new challenges.

Take a minute to reflect—which of these coaching competencies do you practice regularly? Which should you work toward incorporating more often? Over the next few months, we hope to give you additional strategies and support so that i-CASE coaching becomes second nature. Stay with us!


  • Remind your teachers that the window for BOY assessments closes November 30, 2015. 
  • The next Lunch & Learn calls begin Friday, November 6, and will cover the new coaching competencies and short term goal reports. You should receive notification from your program manager about the date and time of your call.
  • Don't forget to submit any questions through the TSR Help Ticket System.
  • CLI Engage has greatly impacted our ability to serve more at-risk children. We have 100,000 students and 7,000 teachers currently in the platform!

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