It’s been a week since the Indistar Summit in Arkansas, and what has stayed with me (in addition to the positive energy throughout the conference) was the drumbeat for assistance and support for coaching and coaching comments.  Participants raised questions like:

  •  How do you provide coaching in your state?
  •  What are your expectations for your coaches?
  •  How do you train coaches?
  •  How do you pay for coaches?
  •  How do you evaluate the quality of your coaches and of their comments? (See Don Doggett’s IndistarConnect Discussion topic)

 These questions and others about coaching were asked independent of the topic of the sessions. This issue seems to be what is on people’s minds.

So based on this interest, IndistarConnect published a survey attached to the Indistar Summit Update digest earlier this week. We’ve already received 20 responses, which underscore the interest in the topic.  If you have not responded to the survey, click the link below, which will take you directly there. Please respond today because the survey closes tomorrow, March 27th! We’d really like to hear from as many Indistar users as possible to guide what we present in IndistarConnect.  

IndistarConnect Coaching Survey

 In the meantime, I want to offer a model for coaching comments that has been used in Virginia, the District of Columbia, and in Maine.  Two years ago at the Indistar Summit, one of Virginia’s coaches presented a model for writing coaching comments. Her name is Courtney Graves, and she was kind enough to let us adapt her model.  Thanks, Courtney!

This model provides an outline for coaching comments that addresses these five components:

  • Identify something positive the Leadership Team (LT) is doing
  • Suggest one aspect to improve upon
  • Provide guiding questions to stimulate the teams discussion
  • Suggest the positive outcomes if these questions are addressed
  • Specify the next steps the coach will be looking for in the minutes or entries in Indistar after the next LT meeting.

Attached is the PowerPoint describing each of these components in more detail with an embedded example of a coaching comment. One important point worth mentioning is that these comments are intended to help the LT improve its practice and become more efficient and effective. These comments are only made after each LT meeting (twice a month is recommended), so the comments must be carefully thought out and crafted to address global issues that will empower the LT.  Steer clear of focusing on just one task or objective. Instead study the Comprehensive Report for patterns of practice that can be improved and structure coaching comments around these big ideas.

Coaching .pptx

For further reading, consult these Indistar documents:

Indistar Coaches and Capacity Builders

Coaching With Indicators

Quality of Work Checklist

Oh, and most important! Please enter the discussion in IndistarConnect.  

     What are your observations about coaching and coaching comments?

     What are your state's, district's, or school's needs related to this topic?

     What tools have you developed that you can share with all Indistar users?

We're all looking forward to hearing from you!

E-mail me when people leave their comments –

Paul Axtell

With more than thirty years of experience helping organizations and individuals be more effective, Paul Axtell has honed his insights in executive offices and training programs for everyone from office staff and line workers to managers and team leaders.

A large focus of his work is how to run effective and productive meetings—to turn them from something people dread into useful, productive sessions with trackable results.

Paul is the author of multiple books, including Meetings Matter: 8 Powerful Strategies for Remarkable Conversations, Being Remarkable, and Ten Powerful Things to Say to Your Kids. He can be reached at <a href=""></a> and via email at
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