What I didn’t know then was that there was a good reason why there was small uptake of the new idea or concept: sustained professional learning, with clear guidance, and on-going coaching was necessary to impact the change.
Let’s consider the research.
In 2018, researchers from Harvard and Brown published, The Effect of Teacher Coaching on Instruction and Achievement: A Meta-Analysis of the Causal Evidence. They found that traditional inservice models produced little uptake of new pedagogical or curricular initiatives, but by combining traditional inservice with follow-up coaching, uptake improved by more than eight times (see chart). Researchers noted that, “The quality of the feedback may be more important than actual quantity.” Coaching everything a teacher does at once was not as effective as using coaching to reinforce a new curriculum or a specific teaching technique. Summer workshops with follow-up coaching appears to be “particularly potent.”
A 2020 report from Digital Promise, Prevalence of Coaching and Approaches: Approaches to Supporting to Supporting Coaching in Education, goes further. “Teacher quality is one of the most important factors that contributes to student success. There is a growing body of research that points to coaching as an effective way to support teacher growth. As such, coaching is becoming more prevalent in schools and districts in the U.S..” The report goes on to note that most US school districts have learning coaches in their school systems now, but that the ratio of coaches to faculty and the amount of time that a coach is devoted to coaching are barriers to effectiveness. The Table included here from the report breaks down the effectiveness of professional development practices and tracks how they lead to transfer to practice. The impact of coaching is immense.
So, if coaching is effective (and incredibly so), how might you identify and train coaches for your campus, and what might they do?
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Brad Rathgeber (he/him/his)