Is There Such a Thing as a Coaching Fail?


“Coaching fail!” is a phrase I’ve heard some of my teammates say after a non-productive planning session, a disastrous demonstration lesson, a co-teaching nightmare or a painful debriefing experience. Sometimes coaches think they asked the wrong questions. Other times they think they weren’t explicit enough. Perhaps there was too much rescuing and not enough scaffolding? At one point kids were making growth but then there were big, obvious steps backward. What went wrong?

If every experience contributes to learning, is there really such a thing as a coaching fail?

I plan to write about this in a future post, but first I wondered what you have to say.

5 thoughts on “Is There Such a Thing as a Coaching Fail?

  1. Sometimes, in the moment, I can feel like the coaching activity I’ve just completed – be it a planning session, demo, PD session, etc – has been a failure. Usually, though, after I’ve had time to process and reflect, I can almost always find something positive that came out of the experience. Many times, that positive is something that I as a new coach can take away as a lesson learned.

    Really, though, can we learn with out taking risks and possibly failing?

  2. There is no such thing as a coaching fail! When things don’t go exactly like we plan, coaches have the opportunity to model reflection. Teaching, like parenting, is not a precise art. We learn from our mistakes. If you are making mistakes, you are not taking any risks. Try to get your hands on the book, OOPS (Power & Hubbard, 1996).

  3. I do think there is such a thing as a coaching fail. Even though I learn through all my coaching mistakes, I do consider it a fail if the TEACHER or the STUDENTS didn’t learn anything. If a demo lesson backfires and the teacher sees a lesson in it, then it wasn’t a fail. But if the teacher doesn’t see the lesson in the backfire, then I failed as a coach.

    • I love that this question has raised strong opinions for both “yes” and “no” and evidence to back it up. It’s going to be a juicy topic to explore. Thanks, Dana.

    • If we don’t try then we are failing. The kids, the teachers, ourselves. I am trying to be more transparent with the teachers I am privileged enough to coach. I am being more vulnerable and “Daring Greatly” in my WHOLE life. Thanks to Brene Brown for that!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *