Coaching vs. Educational Remediation: are they one in the same or polar opposites? by Alisha Strickland (Guest)


Recently, I have begun to ask myself, what are the parallels and distinctions between coaching and Educational Remediation. I was reflecting on my experience at a local elementary school, in which I held as a position as a Remediation Professional.   A Remediation Professional is it similar to a tutor. Hey are a vital part of the education system in the United States because they help to remediate any students who are having a gap in their learning, or having a hard time mastering a specific topic or concept.

I was conflicted on whether or not I had been remediating or coaching my students. I had to dig deep and think back on the lessons that I used to present to my students. (After reading my post, please share with me your thoughts on this topic.)

Delivering the coaching/remediation program

The general format was that I was to deliver/teach the materials given, following a specific format with individual or small groups of students.  As I worked with students in mathematics, in particular, I would provide them with an equation. Then, I would allow them to talk me through how they solved it. I did not give any prompting, but I did ask my students questions about their thinking process(es). 

The main objective of each session was that students could,

  • conceptualize what they were learning, and

  • find ways to solve equations, based on how they learn best.

The practice of question resonates with me as a form of coaching. Just as in a formal coaching session in which a client,

  • presents an issue that needs to be solved, and

  • the coach asks questions to help the client arrive at a solution or plan.

What are your thoughts? Do you agree or disagree with this notion? Is there some information that I have not considered?

Reflecting on my overall approach of helping students

I wondered if this were a practice that I utilized with my students who were struggling with mathematics, or if it could carry over into reading problem-solving exercises as well.   As I reflected on the lesson format that I frequently used, I recalled a reading passage in which there were three different points of view embedded within the passage. For my students to make their judgments about the passage, I asked them to read it in pairs. There were several times that I read passages to and with them, but this was not one of those times.  I did not want any of my voice inflections to influence any of their assumptions about the text. The main objective of the lesson was to determine and explore points of view, and I did not want to influence the readers.

After the paired reading of the passage, I asked my students what their thoughts were about the piece. They explained that there were three different types of feeling going on; I began to ask them questions to broaden and deepen the depth of knowledge. Eventually, after much questioning, my students were able to determine what the three points of view were and to elaborate on them with a commendable about of detail.  Through examination, my students were able to understand the lesson objectives and to expound upon what they learned.  Once again, I found myself comparing my lesson format to that of coaching.  Do you feel the same way? Does the reading lesson mentioned reflect the practices of coaching at all?

My learning, so far

When I think collectively, about how I used to conduct my remediation groups, I realize that I was using a coaching style – creating  a safe space to learn, building on their strengths and awareness to the subject area by asking though-provoking questions, to enable them to learn confidently in their own styles   .  My goal was to allow them to be owners of their learning.  Coincidentally, I may have been coaching them at the same time. In your professional opinion, based on this post and your own experience, what do you believe the relationship between remediation and coaching to be?

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Alisha Strickland, in the field of Educational Leadership and Administration, is currently pursuing her Ed. D. at The University of North Carolina at Wilmington. Upon meeting her degree requirements, she will be completing her dissertation on coaching beginning teacher that are new to the public school system, and will be completing many courses specific to coaching. Over the past fourteen years, she has worked as a Remediation Professional and has been an educator in the Public Schools of North Carolina. She has an remarkable and supportive husband and six wonderful children who enrich her life, and cause her love for coaching to strengthen all the more.