Instructional coaching can be considered to be a type of school based professional development that equips coaches or educators with the skills and knowledge in their specific fields. This helps them to work with the teachers as their colleagues to improve the classroom practice (PSEA, 2007). The core role of the coaches is to increase the instructional capacity of teachers so as to enable them to meet their students’ needs. The literacy coaching model has been designed by the curriculum developers as one of the forefront methods to assist teachers in improving literacy and learning in all the content areas (Moxley and Taylor, 2006).
This document is a research proposal and aims at coming up with a research design or methodology that will address the importance of developing a synchronized approach in addressing the issue of instructional coaching. This will also identify the strength and weaknesses of reviewing implementation reports produced by the curriculum developers and other related bodies, as a method of analyzing instructional coaching. This has involved analysis of a wide range of quantitative and qualitative strategies which have been purposely put into place to provide educators with the adequate information to assist them in improving programs, facilitate changes, and inform school reform activities.
Research method and design
A number of dedicated researchers have devoted their time in evaluating instructional coaching, and training in the main programs. However, very little has been done on research on the effectiveness of some particular programs. This study has also been extended to the necessary elements of a successful program. Most of the known knowledge about instructional coaching is derived from quasi-experimental and descriptive studies. With these findings in mind, it is much easier and possible to identify a few key features in the promising future of the professional development programs for coaches on matters regarding the substance of the training and its form.
Existing researches suggests that coaches require frequent training in three general content areas. This includes their particular subject area such as mathematics or literacy proficiency. They also require training on pedagogical techniques in line, and related to the population that teachers are working with. And also, coaches require general coaching strategies. This may include conducting post session meetings. It is further recommended that coaches working with students with disabilities. This may also include English language learners and also in coaching strategies like questioning, fostering reflection, co teaching. In these evaluations regarding evaluation of a development program for coaches, in a number of countries, they found out that coaches participating in regular training that helped them improve on reflect on their own practices, performed far much better than untrained coaches.
Taken on general perspective, the research recommended that training programs for coaches should adhere to the common set guidelines for effective professional development, just like it is the case in other learning opportunities for teachers. For instance, coaches training should be carried out on regular bases to provide opportunity for collaboration with other coaches. Surveys have indicated that coaches prefer collaborative forms of professional development. This might include the training done in Boston on lecture style training which was provided by external experts.
A variety of methods can be used by the district officers who are interested in analyzing their own programs. These evaluation methods include teacher surveys, interviews, classroom observation, and the analysis of student performance and achievement data. Regardless of the data-gathering methods used, random coaching programs to teachers help to eliminate chances of non-coached teachers.
The first important thing is to carry out research and evaluation to identify the following key areas; the presence of relevant skills and competencies that require to be possessed by coaches, in order to successfully meet particular reform goals. The research findings should also pinpoint the type of training that coaches must possess in terms of in-service professional developments. Another point of consideration is establishing the most effective method of evaluating the coaches.
Operating on the bases of the existing surveys and researches, it is important to carry out a careful selection of coaches who demonstrate interpersonal capabilities, pedagogical knowledge and content expertise. Selected coaches should also be subjected to regular training to help them to further improve on their instructional skills. With this in place, it is therefore possible to put the coaching program to good use, having a good knowledge on what is working and how it is working.The entire idea of having a coach is to impact a positive change in a teacher’s behavior, which consequently impacts positively on the students’ improvement and achievements. This makes sense in the fact that there is a significant proof to indicate a clear link between the teacher quality and the student performance. Previous researches indicate that coaching impacts teacher’s attitudes, teaching practices and impacts on the same measure on the students’ performance. According to the researches carried out by Comet and Knight on a meta-analysis of the effect of coaching, their review of more than two hundred and fifty documents is evident enough that more has to be learnt about coaching. They suggested four major questions that give equal challenge in quest for the further study on the issue. These questions sought to find out what support systems should be kept in place for coaching to flourish, the best practices for the coaches, which teaching practice the couches should focus on, and also, the impact of coaching have on the student’s performances (Wenglinsky, 2000; Sanders and Rivers, 1996).
Policy researchers Marsh and McCombs have also conducted a study on the statewide reading coach program in Florida middle school. In their study, they discovered that coaches are valued by the school heads and teachers as well, and they are directly associated with the improved students’ performances. The findings of this study were that school administrators play a vital role in enabling coaches to perform effectively in their schools. Their findings also recommended leaders to continue with providing education and training for the administrators considered it to be an appropriate step in improving the role of the coach and on the literacy instruction generally to build a common understanding (McCombs & Marsh, 2009, pg 506).
Other studies have also been carried out by Wren and Vallejo. Their literature review purposed on identifying effective collaboration mechanisms between the school principals and the coaches. This review also established a number of conditions that are needed for successful development on the ongoing professional developments for the coaches and heads of the schools. The review also embarked on developing a vision that shifts the goal of the work away from the kind of fixing the teacher.
A clear understanding of the coaches’ roles by the involved parties, through the proper clarification to the teacher by the principal, impacts positively on the collaboration between the teachers and the coaches. Principles happen to be in the center position in this practice in that they provide the required material resource and also approving necessary scheduling of modification that support the coaching process. Principals also identify performance targets and long term literacy goals. They also collaborate with the teachers and coaches to create strategies for achieving these goals (Guskey, 1995).
Some of the coaches find themselves trapped in situations where the concerned administrators have failed to lay the groundwork for coaching. In this case, they find themselves in a position whereby, the purpose and the goals of the coaching practice have not been well explained to the class teachers with whom the coaches are expected to be working with. In other instances, principals fail to know the reasons behind the coach existence at the first place, and what they are supposed to do. This lack of proper communication strategies and lack of the professional development in the coaching model ends up into underutilization of the coaches’ literacy, and even misuse at some times.
When the coaches fail to properly implement their purpose of existence, which is mostly due to potential underutilization and misuse, the problem costs the school a fortune. This results into missed opportunities to positively influence the teacher’s behavior and also leads to the misuse of funds invested into the coaching model. The evidence of a return in investments is also tarnished, ambitions dashed and students’ performance deteriorate.
Well elaborated and detailed information on the utilization of literacy coaches on how the school heads should support them to maximize their potential in the entire process of the coaching model. This literacy is also very important in overcoming challenges associated with the literacy coaching financing. The utilization of teachers’ time is also a factor. This is because it helps the teacher to learn more on the effective professional development strategies for the principals. This study goes a long way in adding the value to the small but growing researches on the support systems to be used in place for coaching in order to flourish, and on the specific actions principals should take to improve and increase the pace of instructional learning in their schools.
From the literature review, it is evident that a synthesis which is more modest in its scope than a comprehensive literature review is necessary. This should address main questions about the instructional coaches. It can be achieved by looking across a variety of research studies that have been carried out and documented, and also by considering the practitioner accounts.
To gather an effective literature for the review, educational key words must be understood. Once the key terms are identified, an evaluation on additional citations of interest from the reference list is made. The evaluator should then collect coaches’ published journal entries and identify coaching job description from a variety of sources. This will ensure that the proper knowledge on the coaching issue is well understood to avoid a conflict of interests and ensure that it is possible to evaluate the coaches’ work adequately.
It may prove difficult to set strict criteria for excluding a research from the review. This is because instructional coaching has not generated a vast body of research at the current times. The research methodology should then be well documented, accompanied with a list of other possible methodologies. A descriptive accounts practitioner journal, professional organization and other relevant documents and sources should also be included in this list.
At this point, the evaluation team and the design team should specify the related research literature. The research should focus on how to collaborate teachers, how to train them, teacher career trajectories and a high quality professional development. This is aimed at shedding light on particular areas and crucial aspects of instructional coaching. The main point to note is that a research on the instructional coaching is relatively bounded. However, there is a much wider body of research which directly related and relevant to the instructional coaching. Several trends have been emerging in research and practice in this topic over the last one and half decades.
After preparing the adequate research literature and coming up with the ways and methods of collaborating with the involved parties, the evaluation team must delve into the research on school change coaching and give a detailed schedule of how much time is required and how much of other related resources need to be into place. This gives adequate preparations and equips the evaluation team with the relevant tools for doing a proper evaluation.
The next thing is to analyze the literature on instructional coaching. This is done in collaboration and assistance of the design team. The review questions are formulated and analyzed for clarity. These questions are aimed at guiding both the analysis of the research and also in the report presentation. These guiding questions are as follows:
In which ways does the differing theory affect or shape the work of the coaches?
- What are the responsibilities of the instructional coach?
- What are the primary roles, activities and tasks of the instructional coach?
- How should the coaches’ work be structured?
- What scope of knowledge should coach have and need to do a thorough job?
- What are other collaborative opportunities and kinds of professional development are available to coaches?
The evaluation team should then conclude the report by characterizing the current state of research on instructional coaching. Another point to be noted is that there might not be a strong and robust, nuanced set of findings for this study that are available to answer all the important and vital questions about the effectiveness of coaching with an effective elaboration of specific elements of coaching.
In designing the report, it is necessary to note that a few salient theoretical frameworks emerge on the coaching literature. Generally, a number of research studies represent instructional coaching as a completely consultative exchange, a give and take case whereby, knowledge is constructed and exchanged between the professional equals. Some sources of the other literature define coaching using a more behaviorist domain of knowledge transfer from experts to the novice. Other literatures suggest that teacher practice changes on shifting their beliefs, other literature suggests otherwise. Classroom teachers’ beliefs change on seeing a concrete change in their teaching environments (Jennifer & Stephanie , 2006).
Costa and Garston’s (1994) model of cognitive coaching suggested that teachers’ thoughts on processes and beliefs are a key determinant to their instructional behavior. With regards to the cognitive coaching model, instructional coaching must focus on eliciting, so as to have an impact on the effecting changes in practice. Evaluating and examining thoughts and decisions that a classroom teacher makes in the context and the process of teaching. In other words, coaching revolves around this theory of cognitive apprenticeship, this focuses on the expert or novice interaction in the cognitive apprenticeship. This is where the cognitive skills are developed on reflection through the discourse and knowledge application (Jennifer & Stephanie , 2006).
Another theory that attempts to describe and define the instructional coaching is the Veenman and Denessen theory of the year 2001. This is one theory that draws upon the teacher’s change based on Guskey (1985) proposal. This model is based on the notion of the fact that effects that change in practice have more likelihood of taking place after a positive outcome occurs on the students. Based on these views and arguments, instructional coaching should aim, and focus on enhancing teachers’ practice that directly link the learning outcomes for students as an option to change their attitudes and beliefs towards their teachers.
Instructional coaches engage in a vast range of activities and assume a wide number of roles. This is well suggested and supported by the theories on coaching (Hall, 2004; O’Connor &Ertmer, 2003; Richard, 2003). Coaching literature presents a number of activities that occur with varying degrees of frequency.
In the list of activities, some activities are more frequent and need to be emphasized. This includes classroom-based activities with the individual teachers as well as classroom-focused activities with the groups of educators. Modeling and demonstrating instructional practices and lessons, as well as conduction of study groups. Observing the laid down instructions as well as providing professional development and training workshops. They also do co-teaching, organizing and brokerage of instructional materials as well as co-planning lessons and units. Instructional coaches also administer assessments and monitors results. They also provide feedback and consultation alongside with chairing or serving on school and district committees. They also promote reflection and analyses students’ work and their overall performance (Jennifer & Stephanie , 2006).