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Key Roles for Coaches


This 15-hour, three-week blended course helps coaches focus on essential roles to maximize teacher and student learning.

Begins August 7!

In a rapidly changing learning environment, instructional coaches play a more critical role than ever in increasing teachers’ capacity to serve all students. But to be effective, coaches and the leaders who support them must understand the essential roles of coaches and ensure that they are able to perform those roles.   

“Key Roles for Coaches” is a 15-hour, three-week blended course that helps coaches prioritize their coaching work based on their school/system context to ensure maximum impact on student learning. Facilitated by expert Learning Forward coaches Heather Clifton and Andy Mendelsberg, the course includes tools that support implementation of the roles of coaches; developing partnership agreements with teachers and leaders; developing trust with teachers; and supporting their schools’ effective use of data.


Through live sessions, activities that support application of learning in their work, and collaboration with colleagues, learners will self-assess their current work around the 10 essential roles for coaches, and will develop and implement strategies for strengthening their own application of each role. Using tools, strategies and activities grounded in the Standards for Professional Learning as well as the book Taking the Lead, learners will apply strategies to support them in their roles as classroom supporter, data coach, learning facilitator, and more.

Course outcomes 

Participants in this course will:

  • Identify attitudes, beliefs, and characteristics of effective coaches.
  • Self-assess and understand the primary roles and responsibilities of coaches, including the knowledge, skills, and behaviors needed to enact the essential roles. 
  • Prioritize their coaching work based on their school/system context and its impact on student learning. 
  • Develop principal/coach and coach/client partnership agreements to define the working agreements and the parameters, scope, and expectations of their work. 
  • Develop strategies for building trust with their clients to ensure maximum results. 
  • In the data coach role, apply strategies to influence a school's culture to support effective use of data.


This three-week course begins Monday, August 7, with live sessions on the following days:

  • Monday, August 7, 2-4 p.m. Eastern
  • Wednesday, August 9, 2-4 p.m. Eastern
  • Wednesday, August 16, 2-4 p.m. Eastern
  • Wednesday, August 23, 2-4 p.m. Eastern

Asynchronous application of learning will take place between live sessions. Participants who complete course requirements will receive a certificate for 15 hours of professional learning. 

The registration deadline for this course is 9 a.m. Eastern, Monday, August 7. 

The cost is $649 for Learning Forward members and $749 for non-members.


Course facilitators

Heather Clifton is a senior consultant for Learning Forward. As a professional learning consultant, she offers services to schools, districts, municipal agencies and non-profit organizations in various aspects of professional development and organizational reform. In addition, she provides executive coaching to school principals and assistant principals. Heather assisted in the development of the training modules for the Learning Forward Coaches Academy and has supported leadership development for instructional coaches and principals for more than a decade. She has facilitated the work of district executive leadership teams and school leadership teams. Her professional experience in schools and districts includes positions as a teacher, an elementary school principal, and central office curriculum and staff development specialist. She is a co-author of Coaching Matters.

Andy Mendelsberg served Denver Public Schools as a principal, assistant principal, and school curriculum director for 25 years, spending his final five years as principal of the district’s largest high school, Denver East, from 2012-2017. He currently coaches veteran and novice principals and assistant principals on their leadership competencies, strategy development, and team building. In Denver Public Schools, he was also selected as a mentor to new urban principals and hosted/coached Principal Residents to prepare them for future leadership roles. He was part of national effort with the Wallace Foundation where he worked with a consortium of principals from across the country to develop best practice materials for future principals. Andy is a facilitator of a math and two universal cohorts of Learning Forward’s support for mentor teachers in Louisiana.

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