Coaching Cycles: Macro vs Micro Options

Coaching cycles support the growth of teachers in the classroom. They are a sequence of partnership opportunities between the teacher and coach that range from intensive to light support.

What support opportunities included in coaching cycles is not black and white. Instructional coaches and other teacher leaders have the flexibility to create support options tailored to the needs of their teachers. Plus, as the year progresses, these options might change as well as teachers grow their instructional proficiency. Flexibility in how coaches support teachers is key.

Not all teachers need or desire to be coached. They also have varying needs and require different level of support. It is important that coaches design options that are relevant and timely for those they serve. Providing both Macro and Micro coaching cycles are a way to differentiate support for the varying needs of teachers.  (There is also no “right” way or recipe for what is included in each type of cycle.)


Some teachers need a full, thorough coaching cycle that includes supports like co-planning, modeling, lesson observation, debrief conversation, lesson execution practice, PD sessions, data digs, curriculum mapping etc. These additional layers of support are great for new or struggling teachers. Coaching cycles that contain this type of intensive support is considered a “macro cycle.”  It encompasses numerous touch points of varying foci with teachers on an ongoing basis. Teachers usually remain in a coaching cycle for two months and may continue engaging in multiple coaching cycles after the initial one.


On the other hand, some teachers only need a mini version of a coaching cycle. We call this a “micro cycle” since it only pulls the essential components from the Macro cycle, like observation and debrief conversation with feedback. It may occur quarterly or a handful of times throughout the year, rather than ongoing participation like a Macro cycle. This is often reserved for stronger performing teachers who need to check-in from time to time.

However, with schools changing their instructional model to online or hybrid models, instructional coaches created more flexible support models for teachers. A Micro cycle is the perfect way to support teachers with the limited time and resources available during the Covid-19 era in schools.

A Micro cycle can include any support instructional coaches and teacher leaders deem necessary for their teachers. The length of time of a session or between sessions can vary.

Next Steps

  1. Meet with the admin team to discuss a plan for coaching support at your school site
  2. Decide if you prefer to roll out micro, macro or both types of coaching cycles for your teachers
  3. List out the supports included in the coaching cycle of choice
  4. Note which specific teachers are eligible for coaching cycles
  5. Roll out the coaching cycle(s) to teachers, explaining its purpose and components
  6. Begin coaching cycles

Additional Support






What do you include in your Micro vs. Macro coaching cycles?


About the author, Gretchen

I am a teacher trainer and coach. Working elbow to elbow with teachers and teacher leaders to ensure instructional proficiency and student achievement soar lights me up. We have a real need in our nation for strong educators to remain in the field. My blog, book, podcast, courses and instructional materials are geared towards empowering teachers (and those that lead them) to receive the support needed to grow and thrive today, tomorrow and always.