Research on Coaching

This post is part of a larger series based on the book Coaching Approaches & Perspectives edited by Jim Knight. Visit the Coaching category for other related posts.

The final chapter of Coaching Approaches & Perspectives is written by Jake Cornett and Jim Knight on the topic of Research on Coaching. Quantitative research is (ethically) difficult in education. The analysis that Cornett and Knight have done of the existing research reveals a problem of validity and reliability due to problematic methods. There is also a dearth of of quantitative/experimental research on the effectiveness of coaching for increasing student achievement. The existing research suggests that coaching is effective in professional development by increasing implementation and understanding of programs and models by teachers. For research to guide practice, educators need more reliable and valid research on the structures that allow coaching to work and the instances when coaching is effective. Educators could also benefit from research that shows the types of coaching that are effective, for who they are effective, and when they are effective. For example, when is one-on-one, small group, autonomous online, and other types of coaching effective for working with teachers? What’s the appropriate use of modeling in professional development? Questions abound, and there are currently more questions than answers.

It’s been six years since the book was published. I wonder how the scope of research has changed in that time. I would like to determine the intersection of technology coaching with the ten types of coaching identified in this book. Although I am done reading this book, my inquiry is far from complete. My next steps are to identify my learning from this book, to extract the components relevant to my work, and to identify interventions that I will apply to my work based on what I learned in this book. I’ve also joined a MOOC on Technology Coaching. A key question for me is how can I leverage social networking and online communication to create the supportive network important to my own professional growth?

If you’ve read any recent research/books/articles on Technology Coaching that you found inspiring or empowering, please share them with me in the comments.

Book Citation: Knight, J. (Ed.). (2008). Coaching: Approaches and perspectives. Corwin Press.

Literacy Coaching

This post is part of a larger series based on the book Coaching Approaches & Perspectives edited by Jim Knight. Visit the Coaching category for other related posts.
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I’d initially skipped Chapter 2: Literacy Coaching by Cathy A. Toll but I went back to read the chapter to see what I could glean. Although the chapter focuses on literacy coaching, which is a subset of instructional coaching, it presents ideas and concepts relevant to all types of coaching.

The chapter begins with a discussion of the landscape of literacy coaching in the USA. It shows that coaching has been a growing field, which first gained widespread popularity due to the Reading First program in the USA in 2002. It also looks at the work of literacy coaching, the opportunities that it presents in education, and its challenges.

Literacy coaching evolved as a new role which encompassed existing tasks such as monitoring a literacy program, providing PD for teachers, and demonstrating how to use purchased material. As the role has grown, literacy coaches have joined various associations, which have developed standards for literacy coaching. Toll argues that there was no need to define a new role for existing jobs, and that the real opportunity of literacy coaching is to have teachers partner with coaches to share data, needs, interests and questions for goal setting, planning and reflection to improve teaching practice. As in other forms of coaching presented, coaching starts with the identification of the needs of teachers. Toll shares that this is done using discourse so that the coach learns the current status for the teachers as well as his challenges, ideas, questions, goals, ideas and experiences.

In this chapter, the metaphor of coach as vehicle for change/transformation is revisited (as in chapter 6). The goal of coaching is to build efficacy and capacity through supporting teachers’ thinking and learning. Unfortunately, little research has been done on literacy coaching specifically, but research exists on the positive impacts of broader types of professional development which include literacy coaching. One of the challenges of research on the effects of literacy coaching is the difficulty of establishing a cause and effect relationship between coaching and student achievement. This problem may be of little issue since coaching focuses more directly on teacher growth rather than student achievement.

In the realm of teacher growth, literacy coaching can explicitly change behaviour, thinking, collaboration and feelings. An implicit effect occurs on teacher identify. Toll identifies four identities for teachers: “The Obedient Teacher”, “The Good Teacher”, “The Problem-Solving Teacher”, and “The Teacher with Agency” (Knight, 2008, p. 63). There is a reciprocal relationship between coaching teachers and the identity of teachers.

The challenge to literacy coaching is the lack of clarity around the term and the role. The term literacy coach is sometimes used to refer to someone who works with students; Toll defines the role as someone who works with teachers so there is a confusion of duties. She defines three duties for literacy coaches: one-on-one conferences with teachers, small group discussions of teachers with the coach, and demonstration lessons (Knight, 2008, p. 65). Unlike the other authors in this book, she stresses that teacher observation can be stressful for teachers and should only be done upon teacher request. Another problem of clarity is that a literacy coach may be given one of many titles which results in confusion about who performs the role. The third confusion is that some people confuse programs and models. A model is derived from theories and concepts and while some programs may do the same and can be used to derive a model, other programs are developed whimsically and do not correlate with a model. In conclusion, Toll provides  some guidelines for examining coaching programs.

I’m not so concerned about the terms and roles of coaching but I think that it’s important that each organization ascribe to a particular definition or create a well defined role. Are you in a coaching position? What is your title? Is your job well defined? How could it be clarified?

The issue of teacher observation has been the most challenging component of coaching to me; it feels like evaluation. However, some colleagues have been discussing co-teaching and this could provide a useful model for teacher feedback and reflection for professional growth. Co-teaching can be tricky when it comes to coaching teachers; depending on how it is structured, it can either be part of teacher coaching or student coaching. I think that the differentiating elements relates to teacher reflection, and discourse.

The issue of evaluating coaches is an important one, I think. As we define the role of a coach, we should make sure that evaluation and assessment matches that definition.

Book Citation: Knight, J. (Ed.). (2008). Coaching: Approaches and perspectives. Corwin Press.

Leadership Coaching: Facilitating and Supporting Change

By Goalfinder.com, License CC BY-NC-SA 2.0.

By Goalfinder.com, License CC BY-NC-SA 2.0.

Coaches can help their clients in self-discovery to make sure that energy drains are overcome for a healthy and successful life. Coaches help each client consider their whole life, both personal and professional as one affects the other. Coaches are open-minded and embark on a journey full of possibility with clients. They help clients clarify goals and identify actions to achieve the goals, and to reflect on progress to refine enactment. They encourage leaders to have a positive attitude about their life and responsibilities and help develop the leader as a whole person. Every leader has multiple roles in a workplace including that of individual as well as member of the organization. A leadership coach considers all the roles of a person in coaching him.

Reiss identifies 8 factors necessary for successful change, many of which parallel factors in coaching. They include passionate commitment, attention and focus, vision, action, support, letting go of deterrence, being aware of beliefs that hold you back, and challenging assumptions (Knight, 2008, p. 186). Brain research shows that people can train their brain to create change, and that new thoughts coupled with action leads to new behavior. Brain research shows four areas of brain function that explain the effectiveness of coaching: attention, reflection, insight and action.

Brain connection develops through use and practice. By giving attention to actions related to a solution rather than a problem, a person builds new helpful connections in the brain.

Reflection provides access to the right side of the brain which is more emotional/sensing.

Conversations between the coach and client provide insight that provide energy for action.

A person will have the most success if she uses the energy produced by insight to push her goal forward through action. Insight reveals thoughts and allows a person to choose new thoughts which can channel action.

Hiring a new leader can be an expensive endeavor for schools. It may be prudent for schools to look into coaching existing leaders, which also increases job satisfaction and retention. In the event where a school/district needs to hire a new leader, leadership coaching smooths the transition and established a course of success for the new leader in the job.

In education, we talk about educating the whole child. We understand that children are not robots who can turn off and on for learning, and that the experiences and circumstances of a child outside of school affect their school life. It stands to reason that the same is true of adults. The roots of a professional problem may be linked to a personal problem; the best results will be achieved by addressing the problems and their interactions together. It seems to me that the factors in leadership coaching also apply to other types of coaching as well.

Some years ago, at a previous job, one of my professional development goals was to work with a mentor. What is a mentor but coach as expert? I see the value of coaching as a means of professional development. In my role of technology coordinator, which comprises different roles at different times, knowing about and being able to apply the components of coaching would be beneficial to me, to those that I work with, and to my organization.

This post is part of a larger series based on the book Coaching Approaches & Perspectives edited by Jim Knight. This post is based on sections of Chapter 8: Leadership Coaching. Visit the Coaching category for other related posts.

Book Citation: Knight, J. (Ed.). (2008). Coaching: Approaches and perspectives. Corwin Press.

Differentiated Coaching: The Coaching Plan

The final step in differentiated coaching is to create a coaching plan. An information gathering sheet can be completed in any order to record the coaching styles and strategies that the coach thinks will be most effective for providing evidence that could change teacher beliefs.

Coaches have to work the hardest when working with teachers who have an opposite personality type. Completing this four step differentiated coaching process may complicate coaching, but it provides a framework where the coach can achieve success with all teachers. Success is defined as interventions resulting in greater student learning, providing clear evidence of improvement that can challenge and change teacher beliefs.

Differentiated coaching makes sense to me. I know that I respond best to coaching styles that match my Mayers-Briggs Type Indicator. It stands to reason that the same would be true of other educators. It would be useful to know the personality types of colleagues; this information could make coaching them more successful, and a more pleasant experience for both parties. We know the importance of student centered teaching and learning; it is also true of adult education and professional development.

This post is part of a larger series based on the book Coaching Approaches & Perspectives edited by Jim Knight. This post is based on sections of Chapter 7: Differentiated Coaching. Visit the Coaching category for other related posts.

Book Citation: Knight, J. (Ed.). (2008). Coaching: Approaches and perspectives. Corwin Press.

Differentiated Coaching: Identifying the Problem

After steps one and two, it’s time to identify the problem that the teacher wants to solve. Kise cautions that the coach may need to help the teacher identify the problem to solve. The problem to solve is the biggest one, the one that affects other goals. The coach may have to probe to discover this problem; the teacher may identify a problem that is secondary. Cognitive coaching may be the ideal model but the coach may need to be more directive to meet the needs of certain teachers.

Kise has provided a template of an information gathering sheet that records the personality types of the teacher and coach, beliefs, goals, roles and evidence of success. The form is a good reminder to me of the importance of recording coaching practice and reflecting on the process of coaching to improve my coaching practice,

This post is part of a larger series based on the book Coaching Approaches & Perspectives edited by Jim Knight. This post is based on sections of Chapter 7: Differentiated Coaching. Visit the Coaching category for other related posts.

Book Citation: Knight, J. (Ed.). (2008). Coaching: Approaches and perspectives. Corwin Press.

Differentiated Coaching: Identifying Teacher Beliefs

The second step in differentiated coaching, after hypothesizing personality type, is identifying teacher beliefs.

Kise gives evidence in this section that teachers do not examine practices that align with their beliefs, so to change practice, coaches need to address beliefs.

Teacher beliefs about coaching come into play. Different personality types have different perceptions of the role of a coach. Kise presents a table of the four coaching types with practical advice for coaches working with individuals of each type. The four types are ST, SF, NF and NT.

It would be useful for me to reflect further on the four coaching types and use the ideas presented there to inform my work with teachers. Kise presents a table with ideas of the information, evidence and interaction/coaching style most suitable to each personality type. I found it interesting to learn more about my personality type, with an explanation/confirmation of the type of mentoring/coaching that I respond to best.

This post is part of a larger series based on the book Coaching Approaches & Perspectives edited by Jim Knight. This post is based on sections of Chapter 7: Differentiated Coaching. Visit the Coaching category for other related posts.

Book Citation: Knight, J. (Ed.). (2008). Coaching: Approaches and perspectives. Corwin Press.

Differentiated Coaching: Hypothesizing Personality Type

Mayers-Briggs Type Indicator determines a person’s personality type along four axes.

Introversion versus Extroversion: Introverts get energy from time alone while extroverts get energy from other people.

Sensing versus Intuition: Sensing people like data and details about decisions/ideas while intuitive people like the big picture (vision).

Thinking versus Feeling: Thinking people like to use data and standards for decisions while Feeling people prefer to use relationships and values to make decisions.

Judging versus Perceiving: Judging People like clear processes, constraints and timelines to minimize surprises while perceiving people like more flexible and open plans.

How would you define yourself? What type of colleagues do you work best with? What type of colleagues do you need to make more effort to work better with?

Ms. Kise explains that Introversion/Extroversion informs the coach on the best way to interact with the teacher, and Judging/Perceiving explains the teacher’s natural preference for planning and closure. This leaves four types which define how teachers prefer to receive information and make decisions. Table 7.1 of Type Preferences and Coaching Implications is a useful resource for coaches to consider how to best work with teachers who may have a preference that is different to that of the coach.

Image by Jake Beech via Wikicommons, License: CC BY-SA 3.0

Image by Jake Beech via Wikicommons, License: CC BY-SA 3.0

This post is part of a larger series based on the book Coaching Approaches & Perspectives edited by Jim Knight. This post is based on sections of Chapter 7: Differentiated Coaching. Visit the Coaching category for other related posts.

Book Citation: Knight, J. (Ed.). (2008). Coaching: Approaches and perspectives. Corwin Press.

 

Differentiated Coaching

Chapter 7 by Jane A. G. Kise is called Differentiated Coaching, and looks at how to use personality types to determine the coaching approach to use with a teacher. This is fascinating to me as team leaders at my school recently completed the Mayers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) and we had a session with Marc Frankel of Triangle Associates on what the MBTI tells us (more on my type in a future post).

One thing that became clear in looking at the results of team leaders here which is reiterated in the chapter is that some personality types are not represented amongst educators. Ms. Kise talks about the importance of knowing personality types to address teacher beliefs which affect teacher practices. This reminded of me of my masters thesis which shared research that shows that beliefs are directly tied to practice.

Learning style is important in coaching because it affects teachers’ natural style, practices beliefshow they relate to data and information, and how they make decisions. Using learning style with teachers has the following components which Ms. Kise explores further in the chapter: hypothesizing type, identifying beliefs, identifying the challenge the teacher wants to overcome, and developing a coaching plan.

This post is part of a larger series based on the book Coaching Approaches & Perspectives edited by Jim Knight. This post is based on sections of Chapter 7: Differentiated Coaching. Visit the Coaching category for other related posts.

Book Citation: Knight, J. (Ed.). (2008). Coaching: Approaches and perspectives. Corwin Press.

 

Content Coaching: Preconference, Lesson Enactment and Postconference

License: CC0 Public Domain

License: CC0 Public Domain

The authors present content coaching as an inquiry undertaken jointly by the teacher and the coach. One of the steps is the preconference which clarifies what the goals of the lessons are, the instructional strategies that will be used and the assessment strategies to determine student progress and understanding. It is up to the coach to elicit ideas that the teacher has, checking for understanding and supporting the teacher’s needs. The teacher has an active role in the preconference. The preconference should be free of judgement so that the conversation allows exploration and discovery together, so that both participants become smarter from their collaboration.

Although the preconference and the debrief (postconference) are both important, Lucy West suggests that the preconference is the more important of the two as it builds “habits of planning” (Kinight, 2008, p. 127) so that the teacher internalize the planning strategies that will allow her to independently plan effective lessons in the future. The teacher makes the final decision about the lesson when she is the one who will teach it; the coach may make the final decision if leading the lesson.

The goal of lesson planning is to make sure that the content being taught is appropriate for the students, and that every child can learn from the lesson. In planning the lesson, the teacher and the coach decide the concepts and ideas that they can illuminate in the lesson. They need to take into consideration students’ prior knowledge as well as the environmental variables and context in lesson design. There are several core issues that can be used to design the lesson so that students understand the concepts better,  teachers learn how to plan for student learning and modify teaching and assessment strategies to support learning.

Some approaches to lesson planning consider that anyone can teach the content if the curriculum, textbooks and other tools are detailed enough. This is a mechanistic view of teaching which does not take the students and context into consideration. Mechanistic teaching can be reassuring for teachers who do not have the content knowledge of an area that they need to teach but it doesn’t work within an inquiry model where the teacher may be worried about her ability to answer students’ questions or to assess students development of understanding in the subject area. Effective lesson planning considers the how, what and why of the lesson, thinking about teaching holistically. This engages teachers and coaches into inquiry of the content, pedagogy and tools being used to think critically about the choices being made, and analyze the results to dynamically respond to student needs. The choice of tools should be well aligned with the why, what, how and who of teaching. The tool should fit the goal, not the other way around.

Successful lesson design meets the needs of all students. In assessing the success of content coaching, teachers and coaches consider whether all children are learning the content. If the answer is no, it is up to the coach and teacher to come up with strategies and practices that ensure all children in the classroom are building understanding of the content and are able to share their understanding. In meeting the needs of every child, teachers and coaches need to consider what tools are suited to which student for building and assessing understanding.

As in other types of coaching, observation and modelling are used in Content Coaching. The teacher and coach may also co-teach or teach in tandem. Occasionally, a coach may intervene in a lesson when the teacher is leading, but only with pre-determined agreement from the teacher and in specific cases. The three cases for intervention are to give the teacher an opportunity to pick up on a relevant idea that a student has raised, to highlight student thinking that can help the teacher refine her instruction, and to highlight a student’s idea for later debrief and follow-up. It’s important to note that in content coaching, the coach and teacher work together throughout the lesson, even when helping individual students or small groups. This is an apprenticeship model of coaching.

After the lesson, it’s important for the coach and teacher to analyze student data, especially verbatim notes of discourse from a range of students, to determine what worked and what needs to be revised or discarded. The most important thing that will allow teachers to grow professionally is specific feedback combined with reflection and new interventions as a result of the reflection. The goal of the post conference is to determine any changes needed to the next lesson to ensure that all students understand the content. Careful planning, including understanding of lesson goals, gives teachers the freedom to modify the lesson to meet the needs of particular students.

As a technology coach, I do some content coaching if you can call tech skills content coaching. Beyond that, the process of lesson design is crucial for illuminating opportunities to integrate technology into the lesson for greater student understanding, and to allow students to demonstrate their understanding. With existing structure and time constraints, I think I will have greater success in working with teachers to identify authentic opportunities for technology integration in the unit plans as opposed to lesson plans. While it is important to identify the lessons within the unit, I haven’t encountered any models in schools where teachers regularly have time for thorough lesson planning during the school day. If your school has such a model, I’d be interested to hear more about it.

This post is part of a larger series based on the book Coaching Approaches & Perspectives edited by Jim Knight. This post is based on sections of Chapter 6: Content Coaching. Visit the Coaching category for other related posts.

Book Citation: Knight, J. (Ed.). (2008). Coaching: Approaches and perspectives. Corwin Press.

The Environment of Content Coaching

The goal of content coaching is to improve student learning, by making instruction more effective. This is done though the mindful consideration of lesson design, teaching and assessment. There are many tools that teachers can use; they need to decide which tools are appropriate for use at what time. They may have to select a variety of tools to meet a variety of needs, in a way that makes sense to them. “It is possible to build coherence and also provide for individual freedom when everyone keeps an eye on student learning as the bottom line” (Knight, 2008, p. 120). However, this is a challenge in education with the push for standardized testing which is in opposition to the idea of differentiation for each student to meet high standards.

To implement learning for every child, teachers need to have strong understanding of their content area, the curriculum and the tools available to them. Tools that are well-designed and well-understood can be useful in assisting student learning. One challenge in schools is to provide adequate support and time for teachers to explore a tool and understand how it aligns with their beliefs and the context of the school. This understanding would allow teaching to be a mindful exercise as opposed to a mechanical one, with mass produced content being seen as an example instead of a recipe. It’s a challenge for teachers and schools to think holistically about subjects and about meeting the needs of each student when they have to follow pre-defined curricula and pacing guides.

The standards movement has raised questions as to what should be learned, when, how, and why. Most schools operate within the factory model with little flexibility of scheduling and instruction. It’s important for teachers to think about lessons, being mindful about the resources that they use, and the assessment of student learning.

TPACKOne of the tools available for training teachers for technology integration is TPACK. The idea of pedagogical content knowledge has come up earlier in this chapter; this section adds in the technological component of TPACK. The integration of technology is not just about the tools but knowing the affordances and limitations of different (available) tools in lesson planning helps teachers design lessons that take advantage of technology. On the flip side, having a good understand of the content and pedagogy associated with the content points to technology tools that can add value to teaching and learning. One of the effects of TPACK has been the development of activity types for different content areas. I will be exploring the site further for sharing with teachers. The SAMR model is also useful for considering the value of the technology integration to teaching and learning.

The factory model applies to teacher education. Concerns about accountability and equality make the provision of individualized professional development a challenge for schools. Many educational stakeholders still see conferences as being a major component of professional development. Research shows that effective professional development is needs-based, specific, content-based, and ongoing. I think that conference workshops can be a good opportunity to gather information, but is only a starting point (platform) rather than a vehicle (train) for professional growth. The advent of unconferences and cohorts of study, with opportunities for individualization through application and blogging provide examples of disruptive teacher education practices.

This post is part of a larger series based on the book Coaching Approaches & Perspectives edited by Jim Knight. This post is based on sections of Chapter 6: Content Coaching. Visit the Coaching category for other related posts.

Book Citation: Knight, J. (Ed.). (2008). Coaching: Approaches and perspectives. Corwin Press.