Student-Centered Instructional Coaching Certificate Program

Student-Centered Coaching is about (1) setting specific targets for students that are grounded in the standards and content and (2) working together with educators to ensure that the targets are met (Sweeney, 2010). The University of Wisconsin–Madison is excited to offer a series of four fully online, sequential courses that are dedicated to enhancing and defining the knowledge and skills of instructional coaches.

Through our Student-Centered Coaching Certificate Program, current and aspiring coaches engage in dialogue and job-embedded professional development to ground their coaching work in student evidence and further refine coaching practices.

The program consists of four fully online, sequential courses. These courses must be taken in the order outlined below, and can be taken as credit or non-credit experiences. We are also happy to work with school districts to provide units of advancement (professional credits).

Program Details

Cohort 8: Summer 2021–Fall 2022

Course one, Foundations of Student-Centered Coaching, begins in July.

When: July 11–August 14, 2021

Where: Online

Program Fee:
$1,600 per course for three graduate-level Special Student credits
$1,100 per course for non-credit

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Learning Objectives

  • Identify the core practices of Student-Centered Coaching and compare them to other coaching models to help inform coaching strategies that result in student learning
  • Analyze student evidence to guide instructional decision-making
  • Plan collaboratively with educators to improve student learning
  • Conduct Student-Centered Coaching cycles that use student evidence to guide the sessions
  • Recognize factors that may create barriers to effective coaching and work collaboratively to develop approaches to address these factors
  • Reflect on one’s own coaching work and use that reflection to continually grow and improve

Certificate Courses and Dates for Cohort 8

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Foundations of Student-Centered Coaching | July 11–August 14, 2021

Participants in this course will be introduced to the coaching model of student-centered coaching and the seven core practices that are essential to the practice. Assignments will engage participants in discussion, analysis, and reflection on these practices as they are embedded within coaching cycles and as participants begin to transfer applications to their own contexts. Much of this work will be supported through online Professional Learning Communities (PLC’s) which will serve as contexts for collaborative analysis, ongoing dialogue, and constructive feedback on peer work. Participants will also plan and develop materials for leading coaching efforts at their sites, a process that will continue throughout the coaching series as participants engage in PLC work within their face-to-face contexts. In addition to much of this asynchronous work, participants will also have the opportunity to engage with Diane Sweeney during a live webinar.

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Assessment Analysis and Instructional Decision-Making | Fall 2021

We often associate the word assessments with the phrase “necessary evil.” But are they really? After all, assessments provide teachers with a plethora of information which can then be used to inform instruction on a daily basis, thus moving all students forward as learners.

In Assessment Analysis and Instructional Decision-Making, we will dig deeper, examining various types and sets of data, (i.e. student evidence), asking critical questions, and seeking to understand more than just the numbers. What stories does the data tell? What stories go untold? How do we sort student evidence to tell a different story, and why does this matter? How do we coach so all students’ strengths are recognized and actionable next steps are identified for moving each and every student to the next level? How do we engage in productive coaching conversations with teachers, administrators, families, and community members about ways to effectively use student evidence to enhance student learning? Why are these questions important? Because our children are more than just numbers, and their futures depend on it.

Organizational Change and Student-Centered Coaching | Spring 2022

The goal of Organizational Change and Student-Centered Coaching is to support coaches and coaching supervisors in leadership, management, and design of educational organizations as it relates to leveraging coaching to advance organizational and learning outcomes, and designing organizational structures and cultures that support coaching efficacy. The course will focus on identifying barriers to organizational change and mechanisms or strategies to support change processes at the individual teacher, school, and district or system levels. The course specifically emphasizes the ways in which coaches and coaching supervisors may utilize organizational theory to improve management decisions and organizational outcomes. It also provides information to facilitate organizational change, to enhance leadership style, and to improve organizational effectiveness.

Practicum for Student-Centered Coaching | Fall 2022

As the culmination to the Student-Centered Instructional Coaching Certificate Program, this practicum is designed to provide participants with an opportunity to apply and integrate knowledge and skills acquired through coursework. In addition, activities and readings are designed to engage participants in critical analysis and reflection of their coaching practices. Participants will be expected to invest a great deal of time in their on-site Professional Learning Communities (PLC’s) coordinating and engaging in ​coaching cycles with individual teacher partners or teaching teams. Our online PLC’s will serve as an extension of this on-site work as we engage in collaborative inquiry into coaching practice that accounts for sociocultural and student-centered instructional practices, attention to components of adult learning theory, and analysis of coaching roles through language use and norms of facilitation.

Fall 2020 Student-Centered Coaching Testimonials

The Student-Centered Instructional Coaching Program gave me the confidence and skills I needed to feel like I was truly having an impact in my role. The professors were attentive, helpful, supportive, and knowledgeable, and with every course I took I was able to immediately apply what I learned to my current context. The support of PLC groups helped me to problem-solve scenarios I was facing and gave me new strategies to try out. The readings were appropriate, timely, and relevant, and feedback from the professors helped to challenge my thinking and push my learning. I have grown so much throughout these courses and truly recommend the program to any coach or teacher leader looking to further their skillset.

Lindsay Forrest, Instructional Coach, San Roberto International School, Monterrey, Mexico

I had been coaching for several years before I started the Student-Centered Instructional Coaching Certificate Program and I felt stuck in my practice. This certification program was the perfect tool to help me explore my beliefs about coaching, learn new tools to elevate my work with others, and reignite my commitment to student learning. I was able to apply the course content directly to my work setting with the support and feedback of the instructors. I am ready to take on this hard 'heart' work!

Janice McDowell, K-4 Instructional Coach, Township of Ocean, New Jersey


If you have questions about the Student-Centered Instructional Coaching Certificate Program, please email Instructional Coaching Program Coordinator Sandra Taylor-Marshall at