Role of Coaching and Reflection

Role of Coaching and Reflection

DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-2685-8.ch003
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Personalized professional learning incorporating coaching, modeling, and reflection, facilitates internal capacity building and increases self-efficacy, which are important elements to supporting school change. Coaching has been shown to improve teachers' abilities to adopt and implement new teaching practices. Also, through reflection, or purposeful thinking, and a sustained collaborative culture, educators have indicated stronger feelings of support, greater personal investment, and increased motivation to enrich teaching and positively affect student growth. However, despite research indicating the value of personalized, embedded, and sustained professional development, rooted in project-based activities with coaching and reflection, one-shot workshops are still, often the norm. This chapter is dedicated to sharing research related to coaching, reflection, and collaboration as it applies toward improving instruction and supporting school change.
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Instructional coaches work with individual and small groups of educators using research and data informed practices to increase teacher capacity as well as student engagement and achievement. Instructional coaches are on-site change agents who use professional development and differentiated coaching to increase teacher effectiveness by teaching educators how to successfully implement effective, research-based teaching techniques and practices (Definition of Instruction, 2014). Further, instructional coaches incorporate reflective teaching principles to enable teachers to think deeply about classroom practices and their effectiveness. Both instructional coaching and reflective teaching facilitate an increased sense of self-efficacy (Robinson & Sebba, 2010). As ever-changing educator reforms are being put into place, coaching to personalize teacher training is especially critical in supporting teachers, as they are required to adopt new practices (Keengwe & Onchwari, 2010). A teacher coach has the professional responsibility to share research-based best practices with educators and administrators (Lamitina, McKenna, Walpole, & Zarine, 2015). Further, Martin and Strother (2010) found instructional coaches help personalize professional development through observations, modeling, and feedback with reflection. Coaching, in conjunction with new curriculum and learning materials are more likely to bring greater results in basic literacy skills for preschoolers (Lamitina et al., 2015). Personalized literacy coaching in particular, has been linked with promoting a positive culture of ongoing learning and teachers were more apt to make changes through reflective activities (Haag et al., 2011). To that end, coaching works to support educators through relationship building and trust, giving context to new learning (Keengwe & Onchwari, 2010). In a study by Meeuwse (2016), early literacy teachers reported feelings of confidence and a willingness to try new pedagogical strategies after working with a literacy coach. Prior to working with a literacy coach, these teachers had no blueprint for reaching struggling readers. There was not a unified teaching strategy and individual teachers were working in isolation.

Further, the work of Keengwe and Onchwari (2010), found students with mentored teachers showed significant improvement in early literacy skills over students with non-mentored teachers. By giving educators training in particular procedures and then opportunities for conversations and reflections with other educators with more expertise, educators were more apt to continuously improve their practice and commit to long-term pedagogical change (Biancarosa, Bryk, & Dexter, 2010). Successful pedagogical change depended on extensive, high-quality professional development with ongoing support (Martin & Strother, 2010). Thus, high quality personalized professional development included long duration, follow-up, ongoing support, and collaboration with community building (Martin & Strother, 2010).

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