Coaching Cycle Active Listening Coaching Language Data-Driven Conversations Coaching Notes Reflective Practice


“When you ground the discussion in behavioral evidence from the lesson, you can help the teacher analyze her own effectiveness in accomplishing her goals… You want your colleagues to learn that teaching is not about rules but about decisions that are grounded in children’s behaviors.” –Fountas and Pinnell, 2009

Data Opening Picture
Effective coaching is grounded in data. We obtain data from both formal assessments and informal observations. Pre-lesson coaching sessions sometimes begin with a review of data from formal assessments gathered at specific times during the year, such as Observation Survey, Fountas and Pinnell Benchmark Assessment, or others. These provide coach and teacher with a common snapshot of children’s strengths and needs.

While formal assessments give useful data, the data we collect through close observation during lessons is especially important. We note the actions children take in their efforts to read and write – what they notice, what they work on, what confuses them – as well as the moves teachers make to facilitate their learning. This behavioral evidence provides the coach and teacher with rich sources of data to analyze and use in planning instruction.

In creating the running record as a tool for monitoring student progress, Marie Clay (2001) explained the importance of behavioral evidence collected during the lesson. “A Running Record is only one example of what I am calling an unusual lens. Any observational tool or research methodology which gathered detailed data on changes in literacy processing over short time intervals of time from subjects who were reading or writing continuous texts would be such a lens. It transmits a different kind of information from that provided by score on phoneme, letter and word tests, or from comprehension questions.”

This section presents examples of data analyzed during pre-and post-lesson coaching conversations with teachers, and how these data-driven discussions help to clarify instruction. The “Additional Analysis of Running Records” process shared in the Guided Reading with Struggling Readers Module on this website can also be incorporated in whole or in parts into coaching sessions and is linked here as another useful method of data analysis.


  • Clay, M.M. (2001). Change Over Time in Children’s Literacy Development. Auckland, NZ: Heinemann.
  • Fountas, I. & Pinnell, G.S. (2009, Fall). Keys to Effective Coaching: Cultivating Self-Extending Teachers in a Professional Learning Community. The Journal of Reading Recovery, 39 –47.