Burkins, J. M. & Ritchie, S. (2007). Coaches coaching coaches. Journal of Language and Literacy Education [Online], 3(1), 32-47. Available:

Author: Burkins, J. M. & Ritchie, S.



Visitors to the Literacy Coaching Clearinghouse have likely embraced the importance of job-embedded professional learning and development for teachers. It is the power of coaching- it effects change through ongoing support for teachers. This article, part of the Journal of Language and Literacy Education special issue on literacy coaching, takes this understanding one step further. Burkins and Ritchie identify the need for a job-embedded model of professional learning for coaches. In this article, they present and describe their experiences with one possibility, called the Coach-to-Coach Cycle, which they developed and used in their district.

According to Burkins and Ritchie, coaches must master, develop, and utilize the content and pedagogy of three layers of expertise: as teacher relates to student, as coach relates to teacher, and as coach relates to coach. A new coach does not automatically have these abilities, this meta-awareness; like teaching, effective coaching requires years of experience, support, and professional learning and development. Thus, Burkins and Ritchie advocate that coaches work cooperatively to provide each other this needed professional support. According to the authors, as individuals we are inherently limited, but when we work together we are pushed to challenge and reflect upon our thinking, our beliefs, and our practices, and thus, we make greater gains in our professional development.

To answer the question, Why use Coach-to-Coach Cycles? Burkins and Ritchie explain: *it promotes professional learning and collegiality *it is easy to implement with minimal building/district support *it prompts rich reflection that leads to real professional growth *it fosters connections between coaches *it is inquiry based and therefore supports learning to learn *and it supports a vision of education that fosters community, humanity, democracy, equity, collaboration, and dialogue.

This article is insightful and honest about the complexities of coaching and emphasizes the need for coach-to-coach learning and reflection in order to support coaches' development. The authors include excerpts of their own coach-to-coach dialogues, and reflect on how these coaching sessions have contributed to their own coaching practices, paying particular attention to the power of effective dialogue. The article is highly readable, informative, and very interesting. It would make a useful resource, and would likely spark reflection, for anyone in a coaching, leadership, evaluative, or administration position. Furthermore, because this article is calling for change - a more widespread adoption of the coaching model of professional development, it would also be an interesting read for educational policymakers and members of our boards of education.

Date Added: 01/31/2008


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