Instructional Coaches–Separating the What from the How for your Teachers


TO:  Instructional Coaches, Teacher Leaders, Mentors, Administrators

In our meta analysis of more than 430 studies that led to Power of Teaching–the Science of the Art, we learned a simple distinction that can make a powerful difference in your time spent coaching and collaborating with teachers. Separate the WHAT from the HOW.

In this video clip I am discussing this distinction with 100+/- teachers on the south side of Chicago.  Those other fans of Marzano’s work (as I am) might remember that Marzano says separating the WHAT from the HOW in teaching is a false dichotomy. We learned that to not be necessarily true when dissecting effective and ineffective teaching behaviors and coaching up a teacher’s teaching quality.

After you view the video, let me know what you think. For those of you who coach other teachers, please try focusing only on the HOW or the WHAT–you can go deeper into one set of behaviors (or skill) areas with your teacher advisee.

For more information on Power of Teaching–visit NWEA professional development at

The Role of Specials and Student Services Educators in College and Career Ready Focused Schools

A team of writers has assisted me in documenting some phenomenal work by a group of Music, Art, Physical Education, and other Specials teachers and staff on how their classroom work can best link to the work of core-content teachers.  Find a copy of the article at link:

My congratulations and appreciation to these teachers and staff members and to co-authors Scott Frauenheim, Karin Breo, and Rob Betz for help is preparing the article. Verbatim comments from participating teachers can also be found at link:

In these times when the important work and roles of Music, Art and other “Specials” area teachers are becoming increasingly under-valued and harder to fund, this article may also prove useful to you for advocacy purposes.  Feel free to share as you see fit.


The Education “BLOB”

During the Reagan administration, then U.S. education secretary Bill Bennett referred to the independent and collective forces of school superintendents, schools boards, and district staff as the Education “BLOB” in a national op-ed.  While the term is offensive to some, his message has merit.  Oft times, school superintendents and their school boards and their central staffers engage in seemingly worthwhile activities that drain the energy, resources, and the very life out of a school district–especially its schools and classrooms. These activities frequently feather a person’s power base or job security, or even a re-election campaign–but few of these energy drainers actually improve student achievement and the work of teachers and students.

Earlier this month, I asked our Fellows in the Illinois Superintendents Preparation Academy to study a research work sponsored and published by MCREL to help them prepare to minimize this education “blob” effect.  Through Marzano and other researchers, MCREL provided some positive correlates of the superintendent effect with student achievement.  Through their review of more than 2,700 school districts serving approximately 3.4 million kids, here is what they found in terms of positive correlation:

superintendent tenure +.17

school autonomy +.28

principal leadership +.25

monitoring progress +.27

school board alignment & support +29

non-negotiable goals +.33

people involved in goal setting +.24

While positive correlations are not statistically “causal” these are themes of work and effort that can help a superintendent and his/her school board and central staff focus efforts on what can facilitate the acceleration of student achievement and supports for teachers and their work with students.


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