Building Your Inquiry Leadership Through Inquiry Coaches

As a leader, Jane finds it challenging to support the teachers in her team and their inquiries. Jane finds that the kinds of conversations needed to coach her staff through their inquiry - planning and analysis - never end as well as they could. She gets frustrated with the dual aspects of her role. These aspects seem to be misaligned.  She finds it hard to flip-flop from manager to leader to coach.

Jane finds the accountability aspect of her role -  to ensure that the quality of teacher inquiries is maintained at an expected level and that her team/department keeps to the designated timeline of checkpoints - is disconnected to the other aspect of her role of inquiry coach.  Jane has a timeline she is expected to keep to and she only has a certain amount of allocated time slots in which to support her teams' inquiries. However, on the flip side of this  - for teachers to plan quality inquiries that are informed from rich dialogue and reflection about students in their classes - Jane needs to allow her staff more time for their planning. The cultures around collaboration that are needed for rich dialogue between teachers about their inquiries needs an environment in which to foster trust and collegial relationships. - Which takes TIME!

Jane has some staff who struggle to design deep and relevant inquiries, and she desires to learn the skills required to coach her staff to improve the quality of the inquiries occurring - and to meet the accountability requirements -  while facilitating professional growth.


Inquiry Coaches

Inquiry coaches are responsible for the building of the capacity of staff to plan and carry out deep and relevant teacher inquiries. They do this through coaching dialogue and facilitation of the connections between the teacher inquiry and the data - pre and post inquiry.

Coaching dialogue is purposeful ongoing one to one dialogue for the purpose of developing skills and performance and enhancing potential. It is distinctly different from performance assessment because it focuses on encouraging, motivating and guiding to achieve higher goals. The inquiry is evidence-driven, but will only generate great evidence when it is well planned and supported. An inquiry coach is like the gardener who tends his crops - nurtures the garden and prepares the soil in order to reap a great crop.


Skills and Dispositions

Relational Trust

The underpinning skill to support inquiry leadership is the ability to build relational trust with staff. Inquiry coaches actions - communication, capability and integrity - must be such that it builds relational trust. When inquiry coaches demonstrate integrity, clear intentions and capability, trust develops and they are able to work more effectively with their teachers.

Inquiry leadership requires inquiry coaches who have the capacity to relate to staff and build relational trust. Therefore, shift the relationship with staff from a supervisory focused relationship to a coaching focused relationship. Because of this, the best inquiry coaches are not necessarily the Head of Department of Syndicate leaders. The success of an inquiry coach centrally hinges on trust, trust is like a piece of paper, once it's crumpled, it can never be perfect again. It is vital that great inquiry coaches are able to build relational trust between themselves and their staff.


Inquiry leadership requires inquiry coaches who are competent communicators. Inquiry coaches who have competency around collegial dialogue and coaching conversations so that they are able to facilitate collegial dialogue. Rich and relevant coaching dialogue is more than just sharing ideas. Meaningful collegial dialogue is about critiquing, questioning, understanding and exploring new ideas.

Inquiry coaches need the skill set to:

  • Frame up rich and relevant coaching conversations with the support of adaptive mentoring theories
  • Participate inquiring dialogue.


Inquiry leadership requires inquiry coaches who are competent inquirers. Inquiry leadership requires inquiry coaches to be competent with the chosen inquiry process. They must be able to support staff in the design and action phases of the inquiry process and support the connections made between the inquiry process and the data links. Inquiry coaches require the skills and competency with analysis and use of data to explore connections between teaching actions and student outcomes. i.e the connection between data and evidence.

We can help your school to develop competent inquiry coaches and improve inquiry leadership. This requires moving the relationship between leader and teacher - from supervisory to coaching…. and that’s exactly what we’ll achieve together.

Traditional one-day PD events and bolted on workshops make little difference to school improvement. We like to form partnerships,  as a critical friend to your inquiry leaders over 6  months to help your school make changes that stick via:

  • Session One - The mechanics of leading an inquiry
  • Session Two - The coaching conversation
  • Session Three -  Supportive coaching alongside teachers and leaders as they coach staff through an inquiry cycle.
  • Session Four -  Supportive coaching to build the capacity for actively inquiring, critiquing and engaging in each other’s learning and work through collegial dialogue.

Want to find out more?

We’d love to hear from you! Please feel free to contact us or call +64 223 548 255

Name *
Tabitha Leonard