A new initiative from our partners in Canada led by Amy Curry has involved the roll-out of Master Coaches, who oversee coaching development in schools.

The educational system in the Western Quebec School Board (WQSB) is underpinned by mentor-coaches, who are working with their colleagues throughout the Board’s schools. Thanks to a new raft of funding, those mentor-coaches are now overseen and supported by a team of newly-appointed Master Coaches. While visiting the WQSB in late November 2022 I caught up with Amy Curry, Coordinator of Induction and Professional Learning Programs for the WQSB and Mike Dubeau, Director General, for a meeting of these Master Coaches.

Here, Amy takes us through the initiative and explains the purpose of the meeting.

Coaching the Coaches: A new Initiative in the WQSB Teacher Induction Program

New funding from the Ministry of Education of Québec allocated for coaching and mentoring new teachers has enabled the WQSB to expand and innovate its practices in its well-established Teacher Induction Program (TIP).

The TIP has three guiding principles:

  1. To provide ongoing professional learning opportunities for teachers and administrators
  2. To support teachers through a structured mentor-coach fellowship, rooted in meaningful feedback and professional conversations that encourage growth
  3. To maintain a professional standard of high-quality teaching for retention in every region of the Western Québec School Board through a multi-faceted evaluation process.

Part of the new funding has been used to establish a Master Coaching program to strengthen and enhance the quality of coaching in the TIP.  Ten Master-Coaches have been hired to support seventy active coaches working in the TIP. All Master Coaches have experience and success as coaches within the TIP program and are outstanding teachers and leaders in their respective schools. Led by Amy Curry, the Master Coach team collaborated at the outset of the school year to develop a mission statement for their work:

Through reflective partnerships, our mission is to accompany coaches in meaningful practice, which will develop and embed quality teaching that maximises student wellbeing, success, and learning.

The Master Coaches have 25 per cent of their workloads dedicated to this role. Each Master Coach is responsible for a small network of coaches to whom they provide consistent feedback, support, and guidance about coaching practice. They meet every other month for professional learning and conversation about their practice. They also meet with Amy Curry each month to reflect on, discuss and track progress, celebrate success, and develop support plans for teachers and coaches as needed.

Our last Master Coach group session in November provided great insight and inspiration. The morning was facilitated by Professor Sir George Berwick, who outlined his long-standing relationship with the WQSB, sharing his work on the four capitals and upwards convergence. In the afternoon, the Master Coach team spent time contextualising Professor Sir George Berwick’s work, identifying how the four professional capitals shape their coaching practice. They are committed to developing and sharing their knowledge to increase capacity and skill in our coaching networks, contributing to upward convergence in our schools (knowledge capital).

Each Master Coach has developed a framework for managing meetings, observations and follow-up with the coaches and teachers they are supporting (organisational capital). The Master Coaches’ quality of character and strong ethical foundation to work with intention to effect change is allowing them to build meaningful relationships with their coaches of focus (social and moral capital).  Emerging from our November session is a commitment to clearly define the Mentor-Coach’s role through the creation of a competency document, as well as the development of a survey for Mentor-Coaches, TIP teachers and administrators to measure the efficacy of coach support relative to a teacher’s skill and engagement and to student outcomes.

The slides from the November session are attached for reference. The Master Coach team will document and share more of their work as the school year progresses.

Access the slides here.

We thank Amy for sharing her experience with us and look forward to hearing more as the work of the team progresses.

One of the issues Amy and her team of master coaches are grappling with is how they demonstrate impact on student outcomes when they are supporting the coaches who support the teachers? The approach they have adopted is to focus on the perceived impact on the coaches they coach. It’s one of those wicked questions.

Take care and stay safe.


Professor Sir George Berwick, CBE