Analyzing the mechanisms that influence the relationship between teachers and coaches

Submitted by: Rosalie Hiuyan Chung
Abstract: Keywords: instructional coaching, coaching supports, teacher characteristics, perceptions

Coaching is being used to support teachers in districts across the United States with variable evidence of effects on shifting teacher and student outcomes (Kraft, Blazar, & Hogan, 2018). Recent theoretical pieces on coaching continue to propose specific coaching models that might help improve teacher practice (Glover & Reddy, 2017). Yet these articles mainly emphasize coaching techniques and fail to examine how the relational aspect of coaching can influence the type of support teachers receive. This study draws on data from a large-scale study of the implementation and effects of content focused professional learning curriculum in a large southeastern school district in the United States to analyze the nuanced relationships between two literacy coaches and the teachers they support. Our goal is to use empirical data to build a more robust theoretical model of the ways in which teacher, coach, and school characteristics influence coaching dynamics and are associated with shifts in teaching practice. Drawing on theories of andragogy and social support, we anticipated that teachers were more likely to be receptive to coaches who valued their input and created a collaborative working relationship. Data includes semi-structured interviews with coaches, teachers and principals at multiple timepoints in two consecutive years and debriefs where the coach provided feedback to teachers about their instruction. Results suggest that both the experience and background of a coach and teacher are important factors in building an effective coaching relationship. School culture can also influence teacher and coach perceptions of the coaching relationship. Implications highlight the need for careful matching of coaches and teachers and training the administration to better support instructional coaches in their work.

Glover, T. A. & Reddy, L. A. (Eds.). (2017). Instructional coaching practices: Promising models, empirical support, and considerations for practice [Special issue]. Theory Into Practice, 56(1).
Kraft, M. A., Blazer, D., & Hogan, D. (2018). The effect of teacher coaching on instruction and achievement: A meta-analysis of the causal evidence. Review of Educational Research, 88(4), 547-588.