Teacher perceptions of coaching in a reading first context : a cross-case analysis of an academically acceptable and an academically unacceptable school



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The creation of professional development that provides ongoing support to teachers so that they can continue to develop has been increasingly promoted in past years. With the onset of No Child Left Behind and Reading First, teacher professional development gained renewed interest in many school districts. One key component of professional development that received increased attention is professional development through instructional coaching. In a Reading First setting, coaches were supposed to provide teachers with ongoing support in implementing high quality reading instruction for teachers in grades K-3. However, little research on teacher perceptions in this setting has been undertaken. This study sought to discover teacher perceptions of the role, contribution, and value of coaching in grade levels K-3 by answering the following research questions: 1) How do teachers understand the role of instructional coaching? 2) What changes do teachers perceive in their practice as a result of instructional coaching? 3) Which components of instructional coaching do teachers believe they benefit from most? 4) Do teachers perceive a relationship between student learning and instructional coaching? A cross-case analysis was performed on two elementary schools. Data came from the perspective of eight teachers through personal interviews and focus group interviews. Coaching logs provided by instructional coaches were also used. Data collection and analysis was guided by Dewey’s (1938/1998) theory of experience, focusing on continuity and interaction. The results of this research revealed perceived diverse benefits of coaching on teacher practice in a Reading First setting, as well as issues and challenges within the coach-teacher relationship. Teachers’ views and attitudes regarding coaching were similar in some ways. Teacher interaction with coaches varied by experience and grade level. Most of the teacher participants wanted more interaction with the instructional coach assisting, modeling, and observing in the classroom.