How Coaching Can Impact Teachers, Principals, and Students
What Can Coaching Do for a School’s Academic Performance?
After entering the profession, most educators think that they require more information, skills, practice, and support than they did before entering the profession. To master a complex talent, according to Malcolm Gladwell’s book Outliers: The Story of Success (2008), it requires 10,000 hours of purposeful practice—a practice that encourages continuous improvement—over several months or years. For individuals who work in education, this translates into around seven years. Most teachers and principals desire professional development; they want to enhance their trade, become more effective, incorporate new skills, and see their kids learn more as a result of it.
The definition of professional development (PD) is up for debate, and there are differing viewpoints. Traditionally, professional development has taken the shape of a three-day training session, such as in August at the start of the school year, followed by a couple of follow-up meetings throughout the year. Teacher professional development on its own, which nearly every teacher has had the opportunity to participate in, rarely leads to major changes in teacher practice or greater learning for students. The results of a 2009 professional development study found that instructors require close to 50 hours of continuing professional development in a given area to increase their abilities and the learning of their pupils (Darling-Hammond et al., 2009). While the body of evidence demonstrating the ineffectiveness of one-shot PD continues to mount, efforts are being made to identify PD that may be effective.
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When it comes to running an efficient professional development programme, coaching is an absolute must. As a result, coaching can help educators grow their will, skill, knowledge, and capacity because it can go where no other form of professional development has gone before: into the educator’s intellect, behaviours, practises, beliefs, values, and emotions. Coaching establishes a relationship in which a client feels cared for, and as a result, the client is more equipped to access and apply new information. A coach can create an environment in which deep contemplation and learning may take place, in which a teacher can take risks to improve her practice, in which meaningful discussions can take place, and in which growth is recognized and rewarded. A coach can help teachers create these conditions. In the end, a coach creates a safe environment in which healing may occur and in which resilient, joyous communities can be established.
When evaluating whether or not to hire a coach, principals frequently inquire about the following types of issues related to the impact of coaching: What does the study show about the impact that coaching can have on a school’s culture? What model is the most effective in your opinion? Is there any proof that providing students with coaching will lead to increased student achievement?
In our role as coaches, it is our job to understand what is to be anticipated. Similarly, we cannot walk into schools with the expectation of raising test scores by 50% in the first year. We must be able to articulate what we believe we are capable of accomplishing. A growing amount of research indicates that coaching can assist in creating the conditions necessary for instructional practises to change and student outcomes to improve, which is encouraging news. These are important data points for coaches to be aware of as they assist to shape the work we do; our work must go beyond simply working with teachers one-on-one to improve their practice; it must go farther than that.
The Annenberg Foundation for Educational Reform conducted the most detailed and comprehensive study of coaching to date, which was completed in 2004. It presents several data that provide significant support for coaching. First and foremost, the report concludes that good coaching promotes the collaborative and reflective practice. Those who receive coaching can apply their information more profoundly, more frequently, and with greater consistency than teachers who work alone. Coaching assists teachers in developing their ability to reflect on and apply their learning in their work with students, as well as in their work with one another and their professional development.
In addition, the Annenberg report discovered that good embedded professional learning can help to generate positive cultural change in an organisation. An effective coaching program’s conditions, attitudes, and practices can influence the culture of a school or system, thus integrating instructional change within broader initiatives to enhance school-based culture and conditions, as shown in Figure 1.
Coaching was also found to be associated with an increase in teachers’ use of data to inform practice. Effective coaching programmes are designed to address specific needs identified by data, allowing reform efforts to focus on topics such as eliminating achievement disparities and pushing for equitable access to educational opportunities. It was discovered in the Annenberg report that data-driven coaching programmes can aid in the creation of coherence within a school by focusing on strategic areas of need that are provided by evidence rather than by the opinions of individuals, who can be at odds with one another.
One of the most important findings was that coaching encourages the implementation of learning and the exchange of reciprocal accountability. Coaching is a form of embedded support that aims to respond to the needs of students and teachers in an ongoing, consistent, and committed manner. When colleagues, supervised by a coach, work together and hold each other accountable for enhanced teaching and learning, the likelihood of putting new learning into practice and of sharing responsibility increases significantly.
The Annenberg report concluded that coaching promotes collective leadership throughout a school system. One of the most important characteristics of coaching is that it takes advantage of the relationships that exist between coaches, principals, and teachers to initiate the discussion that results in behavioral, pedagogical and content knowledge change. When done well, effective coaching distributes leadership while keeping the focus on teaching and learning at the forefront of the mind. This emphasis encourages the development of leadership abilities, professional learning, and support for teachers to identify and implement strategies that will improve student outcomes.
As the profession of coaching in schools matures, we must identify and collect sets of qualitative and quantitative data that can be used to determine the impact of our work on student learning and achievement. We must keep track of the changes we observe in teacher and leader practise, as well as gather proof that our efforts are having a positive impact on students’ learning. Obtaining this information may be an exhilarating and rewarding endeavor; it is these statistics that help us feel effective and that allow us to know objectively that we are performing well. This requires us to ensure that the scope of our job is well defined and focused, that we are collecting data on how our clients improve and that we are communicating our results to them.
A school or district with a highly effective, comprehensive coaching programme assists teachers and administrators in collecting evidence that shows the positive impact of coaching on teachers, administrators, and students.