LEADERSHIP AS A CENTRAL OFFICE ADMINISTRATOR INCORPORATING COACHING SKILLS By S TACEY COLE A DISSERTATION PRESENTED TO THE GRADUATE SCHOOL OF THE UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DE GREE OF DOCTOR OF EDUCATION UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA 201 7
201 7 Stacey Cole
To my husband and children
4 ACKNOWLEDGMENTS I would like to begin by thanking every member of my doctoral committee. I have very deep respect for each and every one of them as they each brought a unique lens to my work, and I appreciate the push and the assistance that they each gave. I also want to thank them for creating the CTTE program, which felt like the perfect fit for me sin grateful I am to have been in this program and to find colleagues across the country that share many of the same passions as I do. I had the great fortune of having Dr. Nanc y Dana serve as my committee chair. Nancy has been instrumental in my success throughout this process. She knew when to push and when to support throughout the whole program. She held me to a high standard even when I wanted to give in. Instead of breaking and allowing me to get by with an easier task, she reminded me to persevere and helped me see the light at the end of the tunnel. Her countless hours reading my work, helping me re write my story to help it make sense, and her critical friendship has made me a better person. This research story could not have been told without her. I would like to thank my CTTE colleagues, especially my Sassy Six. Our cohort within the cohort helped me push through to the end. They helped me keep my focus throughout our c oursework and all the way to the end. They helped me grow professionally and personally. There are not enough words in the English language to say how grateful I am for their friendship. I look forward to continued collaboration with them as we continue on There is another cohort of colleagues I would be remiss not thanking, my CAS 5 cohort from Iowa State. They are another group that supported me through a program
5 and helped me grow both professional ly and personally. They helped me learn about leadership through fun and friendship. Many of them saw me as someone better than I believed at the time. I would also like to thank my instructional coaching team. They make me look very good at my job. I am s o thankful to be surrounded by people on an everyday basis who see our district, our students, our families, and each other as bigger and better than em for helping me achieve my greatest dreams and then dream again. successful experience researching a principal support system. Steph Ryan, and Ed have given me reciprocity in ways that I never could have imagined before starting this process. They are three colleagues who always make me a better me. I hope in some Julia for taking a chance and being a part of this study. I am so grateful that she has taken many chances in life based on my ability to persuade her into new projects. I have the highest respect and gratefulness for her. To all the students I have ever had that allowed me to share a small piece of their story, I am grateful for the lessons I have learned from all of you. Thank you for being brave enough to tell me when I was wrong. Thank you for sharing your joys and your sorrows. I will never be able to repay so many of you for the gifts you have given me throu gh being a part of your lives. Along with my students, my first team teachers
6 first years of teaching will never be forgotten. They continue to do the hard work from the classroom, and I have admiration for them that could never be replicated. I would like to thank my family for sticking by me all these years as I was distracted doing homework when I could have done a better job being a mom and a wife, sister and daug hter. My parents have always believed I would become more than my current reality, and they have supported me every step of the way. My brother, David, has been pushing to never let status quo stop me since I was very young. My children, Carson and Skylar call myself their mom. I am so grateful for the critical thinkers they have each become. I would also like to thank my husband Chris. Not many would take over all the household duties as he has to help me chas e my dream. I am forever grateful to have him in my life as my constant support as well as my constant comedy routine. I would not have made it through this program without these three supporters in my life.
7 TABLE OF CONTENTS page ACKNOWLEDGMENTS ................................ ................................ ................................ 4 LIST OF TABLES ................................ ................................ ................................ ........... 9 LIST OF FIGURES ................................ ................................ ................................ ...... 10 ABSTRACT ................................ ................................ ................................ .................. 11 CHAPTER 1 INTRODUCTION TO THE STUDY ................................ ................................ ........ 13 Purpose of the Study and Research Question ................................ ....................... 17 Relevant Literature ................................ ................................ ................................ 18 A Call for Job Embedded Professional Learning ................................ ............. 18 Coaching as Embedded Professional Learning ................................ ............... 22 The Process of Coaching and Skills of a Coach ................................ .............. 28 Context for Study and Participant ................................ ................................ .......... 36 Description of the Intervention ................................ ................................ ............... 38 Research Methods ................................ ................................ ................................ 41 Data Collection ................................ ................................ ................................ ...... 42 Data Analysis ................................ ................................ ................................ ........ 47 Significance of the Study and Overview of Dissertation ................................ ......... 51 2 FINDINGS AND IMPLICATIONS ................................ ................................ ........... 53 The Need for Leadership Coaching ................................ ................................ ....... 54 ................................ .................. 55 Dialogue ................................ ................................ ................................ .......... 55 Voice ................................ ................................ ................................ ............... 56 Choice ................................ ................................ ................................ ............. 57 Reciprocity ................................ ................................ ................................ ...... 58 Equality ................................ ................................ ................................ ........... 58 Reflection ................................ ................................ ................................ ........ 59 Praxis ................................ ................................ ................................ .............. 60 The Vi gnettes ................................ ................................ ................................ ........ 61 Vignette 1: Challenges at the Building Level ................................ ................... 61 ................................ ............. 66 Analysis of vignette 1 ................................ ................................ ................ 71 Vignette 2: Learning from Insights and Perspectives on District Matters ........ 72 ................................ ............. 75 Analysis of vignette 2 ................................ ................................ ................ 78 Vignette 3: Developing Leadership P ractices Together ................................ ... 79 ................................ ............. 82
8 Analysis of vignette 3 ................................ ................................ ................ 85 Vignette 4: Walk Arounds as Leadership Practices ................................ ......... 86 ................................ ............. 89 Analysis of vignette 4 ................................ ................................ ................ 91 Dialogue: The Constant Principle ................................ ................................ .......... 93 Vignette 1 ................................ ................................ ................................ ........ 94 Vignette 2 ................................ ................................ ................................ ........ 95 Vignette 3 ................................ ................................ ................................ ........ 96 Vignette 4 ................................ ................................ ................................ ........ 97 Analy sis of Dialogue ................................ ................................ ........................ 98 Summary ................................ ................................ ................................ ............... 99 3 REFLECTION AND ACTION ................................ ................................ ............... 101 Implic ations: Review and Discussion ................................ ................................ ... 103 Lessons Learned Across Implications ................................ ................................ .. 106 Shared Experience ................................ ................................ ........................ 106 Importance of Time Set Aside ................................ ................................ ....... 109 The Importance of Using and Studying the Principles ................................ ... 111 Conclus ion ................................ ................................ ................................ ........... 114 Further Research ................................ ................................ ................................ 114 APPENDIX: RESEARCH POSITIONALITY STATEMENT ................................ ......... 117 LIST OF REFERENCES ................................ ................................ ............................ 121 BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH ................................ ................................ ......................... 127
9 LIST OF TABLES Table page 1 1 Examples of coded data ................................ ................................ ....................... 47
10 LIST OF FIGURES Figure page 1 1 Collaborative log ................................ ................................ ................................ ... 40 1 2 Completed collaborative log ................................ ................................ .................. 43 1 3 ................................ ................................ ......... 45 1 4 Data poster. Photo courtesy of author. ................................ ................................ 49
11 Abstract of Dissertation Presented to the Graduate School of the University of Florida in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree of Doctor of Education LEADERSHIP AS A CENTRAL OFFICE ADMINISTRATOR INCORPORATING COACHING SKILLS By Stacey Cole December 201 7 Chair: Na ncy Dana Cochair: Aki Murata Major: Curriculum and Instruction The role of the principal carries a heavy weight as they are expected to be both managers of their building s and instructional leaders. The principal is second only to the classroom teacher in terms of impact on student learning. Therefore, building the capacity of the principal should be a key school improvement strategy from the district level. Instructional coaching as a job embedded form of professional development has shown great promise for building the capacity of teachers and is a promising strategy for developing principals. The purpose of this study was to understand how I, as a central office administ rator, could incorporate the principles of instructional coaching into my work with a new principal in a high need, high poverty school as she worked to build trust with the teachers and families in her building. Through the process of practitioner resear 7 principles of partnership coaching played out in an eight week coaching cycle between a central office administrator and a building principal. The main sources of data were transcribed audio recordings of coaching conversa tions, documents created during coaching conversations, a reflective journal of
12 notes written immediately following our coaching conversations, and a final interview with the building principal, also transcribed. Analysis of data led to the presentation o f four separate coaching vignettes instructional coaching model (originally developed f or use with teachers) to leadership coaching work with principals. Lessons learned from this study include: (1) having a shared experience to anchor coaching work between a central office administrator and principal is important to bring depth to the coac hing conversations, (2) taking stock of the ways central office administrators spend their time is critical to making space for seven coaching principles reveals import ant elements in a central office administrator principal coaching relationship.
13 CHAPTER 1 INTRODUCTION TO THE STUDY The landscape of education has changed dramatic ally in the last 50 years. D emographics in the United States are shifting as marginalize d populations are becoming the majority of students entering our classrooms (Hansen Thomas, 2009). Globalization continues to change the focus of education, as more and more jobs can be outsourced, and jobs that stay in the United States are no longer man ufacturing in nature but charged by information (Darling Hammond, 2010). To keep up with the demands of the 21 st century, schools, and the educators who work within them, must engage in continuous improvement efforts. DuFour and Marzano (2011) remind ed ucators that a k ey to sustaining individual school improvement efforts is the support of the district office including a commitment to the promotion of successful pr actices Researchers have shown that teachers and principals have a direct impact on stud ent achievement (Darling Hammond, 2010). Perhaps less explored is the impact of roles played by educators at the c entral district o ffice particularly in current times where teachers and principals are asked to examine their own practice to better meet th e needs of students in the 21 st century Educators in the twenty first century often report feeling overwhelmed while not enjoying their work ( Kirtman & Fullan 2016). According to Fullan (2011b), using a ccountability and individualistic strategies to drive policy and school improvement does not create sustainabl e change and improvement Educators instead focus on the drivers for change that include capacity building (Kirtman & Fullan, 2016). Kir t man and Fullan (2016) describe capacity building as ens uring that educators continually increase their skills with instruction, curriculum, and assessment, focusing on working as teams
14 and not in isolated silos. To build the capacity of a school staff, teachers share best practices between rooms focusing on p edagogy. This in turn helps teachers examine instructional practices to meet the needs of all students, as opposed to using strategies that work for the few who already have cultural capital in the schoolhouse. Hence, to better meet the instructional need s of all students in the 21 st century, many principals are faced with the task of building their school capacity as an important component of their leadership practice, as they develop effective leadership competencies. Kir t man and Fullan (2016) suggest t hat s chool leaders should work together to build these competenc i es within each other ; no leader should feel as though he or she needs to walk on water to achieve success in schools with high populations of marginalized children Kir t man and Fullan (2016) further suggest that d istrict leaders must help their principals to acquire the kind of leadership traits other leaders have developed, the kind that have helped them to achieve success even in adverse conditions. I serve in my district in the role of d irector of education services. As a central office district administrator, one of my roles is to build the capacity of our building principals so they can in turn build the capacity of our teaching staff. I have served in this role for four years. In the p ast, principals have looked to central office personnel to give out directives on initiatives that may be required by the state. They have looked to the central office to ensure the school is up to date on compliance paperwork associated with Title I, No Child Left Behind, or the state site visit process. Principals have also looked to the central office to be a source of instructional leadership. My role, especially, is expected to be up to date on instructional strategies or initiatives that can be broug ht into the district to improve achievement. Typically, these have been shared
15 through principal group meetings where the same information was given out to all the elementary principals at the same time. This method of delivering information to principals is ineffective for a number of reasons. First, when the message is simply delivered rather than worked out cooperatively, the principals often see the initiative or strategy as belonging to me, as opposed to something that they and their building might e ngage in. Second, when the principal. In fact, the principal can see the work as another district directive and feel left out of the equation. Leithwood and Jantzi (2008) note that district office personnel should assist building leaders by creating conditions that principals view as supportive of their work rather than having the principals feel like they are carrying out the work of the district. I recognize that my pr actices as a central office administrator sometimes have aligned with practices that scholars in the field of education say not to do. These staff (Hargreaves & Ful lan, 2012). My dilemma is how to move away from the position of central office leader as information giver only to a model of serving as a thinking partner with the principals with whom I work. I would like to model for principals the kinds of leadership that will help them in their school. In sum, I would like to focus on helping principals build their own leadership capacity. To move from a model where a district leader tells building principals what to do to a model where the district leader works t o build the leadership capacity of the
16 Desimone (2009) states that quality professional learning for teachers includes opportunities for learning to be job embedde d. One mechanism for job embedded learning that has grown in popularity in recent years is instructional coaching. The literature suggests that instructional coaching can offer support and guidance to teachers, meeting their needs in a way that traditiona l leadership has not been able to accomplish (Carlisle & Berebitsky, 2011). A growing body of research suggests the new strategies in the classroom (Teemant, Wink, &Tyra, 2011) as well as an increased likelihood that research based strategies will be delivered in classrooms with higher levels of fidelity (Kretlow, Wood, & Cooke, 2011). As research begins to reveal the potential instructional coaching has to impro ve teacher practice, it was an interesting problem of practice to explore the ways principals. Utilizing quality feedback has been shown to have a high impact on instruction with students and therefore could be considered as a tool to assist principals in achieving their goals (Hattie, 2012). According to Doud and Keller (1998), feedback to principals about their work has been inconsistent at best and is typically only given during an evaluation cycle. Feedback received through coaching, rather than evaluation, has the potential to help principals improve their leadership capacity, which in turn, can improve the learning capacity of teachers and students in their schools. Ap plying the notion of coaching to the principalship has received some modest attention in the literature. For example, Hopkins Thompson (2000) remind readers that even champions need coaching and that we should not just assume that great
17 eed support in the f orm of mentoring. Barkley (2011 ) has further substantiated this as he builds the case that the more detailed a job becomes, the more likely a person is to utilize a coach at high levels. H e gives a parallel comparison to a professiona l baseball player having a pitching coach, a fielding coach, and a batting coach due to the high level of skill each takes at that level. Utilizing detailed feedback and respectfully pushing to critical reflection has been found to be a key quality factor in coaching leaders (Huff, Preston, & Goldring 2013). With the literature suggesting that coaching can be an important part of the growth of leaders just as it is for athletes and teachers, for my capstone project in the professional practice doctoral p rogram in Curriculum, Teaching, and Teacher Education at University of Florida, I endeavor ed to apply knowledge from instructional coaching with teachers to my work with principals as a central office administrator Purpose of the Study and Research Quest ion The purpose of this study was to understand how I, as a central office administrator, can incorporate the principles of instructional coaching into my work with a new principal in a high need, high poverty school as she works to build trust with the t eachers and families in her building The research quest ion I explored was as follows: seven partnership principles for instructional coaching building principal ? I explored this question because principals in the twenty first century are asked to do work that principals have not been asked to do before, and are therefore in need of help and support to improve their leadership capacity. Princ ipals are expected to be great managers of their buildings in addition to being instructional leaders who lead their buildings (Fullan, 2011a). Asking principals to
18 do their job differently may mean that we ask people in district office positions to recon sider their jobs as supporters of the work in buildings. As an educator holding a district office position, I wanted to reconsider my job and the ways I support building principals by applying a practice often associated with teacher professional developm ent (instructional coaching) to my work with principals. This study examined what happened when a central office administrator moves toward a role of support and away from a position of director. In the next section, I discuss the literature that surroun ds my application of instructional coaching to my work with principals. Relevant Literature To introduce the concept of coaching as professional development, I begin my discussion of literature by briefly exploring the field of professional development in general, noting calls for job embedded forms of learning. Next, I describe coaching specifically as one mechanism for job embedded professional learning, reviewing pertinent research indicating the promise coaching holds for professional learning. Since the literature reveals the presence of many different models of coaching, in the next section I explicate the coaching models that I endeavor to draw most heavily upon in the design of this study. Finally, as my study focused on the development of my ski lls and practice as a coach, I end my discussion of the literature with a section devoted to the role of the coach and the coaching skills I wanted to focus on as I studied my own practice in the role of a coach. A Call for Job Embedded Professional Learni ng Professional development in the single form of the workshop setting without focus and duration is an ineffective professional development model as it does not change teacher behavior (Desimone, 2009). Districts cannot do more of the same if
19 they want t o get different results but instead should abide by certain principles to enhance their professional learning experiences for their staff (Gulamhussein, 2013). Professional development must have a significant amount of time devoted to a focused topic; the re must be support for a teacher during implementation to help change practice; and finally, teachers should be engaged in their own learning (Gulamhussein, 2013). The teaching profession can be one in which practitioners feel isolated, with few opportuni ties to engage around practice. Principals especially can feel alone in their work as they deal with tough personnel problems while managing the system to best serve the stud ents (Bloom, Castagna, Moir, & Warren 2005). Slavit, Nelson, and Deuel (2013) m ade the case that if a school is going to morph into an education system that provides quality professional development for all educators to improve learning for all, collaboration will be crucial. According to Fullan (2014) seventy five percent of princ ipals feel their job has and the percentage who says they are satisfied with their worked has dropped Gulamhussein (2013) built a case that districts cannot do more of the same with professional devel opment and that a transformation of the professional development system may be overdue. It will be important to equip educators with new tools and strategies based on current understanding of what works to assist them in addressing the needs of every student who en ters our schools (Kretlow, Wood, & Cooke 2011) Providing quality professional development poses a challenge for many schools as traditionally such professional development has taken the form of isolated w orkshop s
20 with little expectation of implementation. According to Kretlow, Wood, and Cooke (2011 ), t radi tional in service training has not proven to help schools reach current education al goa ls Many practices included in professional development in the U.S. have been unsuccessful as little change has occurred systemically in classrooms (Nolan & Hoover, 2008 ). Teachers need opportunities to engage in job embedded professional development experiences that make senses for their classroom situations and allo w them the chance to reflect on new practices that may impact the learning of their students (Joyce & Sho wers, 2002; Nolan & Hoover, 2008 ). job embedded, collegial, interac tive, practical and results that in order for professional learning to be effective the adults must have regularly scheduled collaborative sessions which are focused around student data. They note that support needs to be avai lable for successful implementation. They argue that time to collaborate is a powerful school improvement tool with time given to teachers to interact with one another as well as new learning as a key to deep understanding and authentic implementation of new practices (Joyce and Shower s, 2002). Fogarty and Pete (2010 ) go on to note that teaching professionals deserve high quality learning experiences provided via a multitude of delivery vehicles including face to face, web, text supported, action research, and reflective questioning. They build the case for learning that makes sense in their day to day contexts with a results oriented focus so that teachers are very clear when new strategies are working.
21 Collaboration is a potential key characteristic when moving traditional professional learning opportunities, through implementation of new strategies, into transformative practices that will make a difference in teachers' growth Giving teachers the opportunity to work with colleagues within the structure o f professional development establishes the culture of learning and collective efficacy needed to change instructional practices to meet current educational demands (Carlisle & Berebitsky, 2011). In her landmark article on improving research about teacher learning, Desimone (2009) made the case for professional development, with five critical characteristics aimed at improving teacher practice and promising to raise student achievement, including coherence, duration, active learning, content focus, and col laborative learning. Incorporating these characteristics into professional learning enhances the chances that professional development will make an impact on practice. For many years, schools have made efforts to develop improved instructional strategies and classroom experiences for students by investing in on the job teacher training (Kraft & Blazar 2016). Characteristics of effective professional development mirror findings from research on learning showing that job embedded, sustained professional de velopment offer the kinds of experiences that produce changes in the Lave & Wegner, 1991; Bean Swan, & Knaub, 2003 ). Scholars have reached consensus on the fact that professional develo pment cannot be divorced from the regular work of teachers ( Li e berman & Miller 2001). Job embedded professional development can take many forms. Croft, Coggshall, Dolan, Powers & Killion (2010) note many formats that school districts can use in order
22 to create professional learning opportunities that are more likely to impact classroom friends groups, data teams, examining student work, implementing learning plans, le sson study, mentoring, portfolios, Professional Learning Communities, and study groups (Croft et al., 2010). Joyce and Showers (2002) also establish ed the need for multiple opportunities to interact with new practices allowing teachers to apply new knowled ge centered on solving problems of practice in their classroom in lieu of training that occurs away from the context of their work. Coaching as Embedded Professional Learning Coaching is a form of professional learning that combines critical features of p rofessional learning while taking away feelings of isolation that teachers report when feeling more and more stressed by accountability measures in education (Fullan, 2010). Combining traditional in service training with a school based instructional coach in a collaborative relationship could facilitate the establishment of effective professional development models that have a positive impact on student learning by changing classroom practice. Establishing school based coaches can transform traditional in service settings by increasing collaboration and removing barriers that include isolation from peers or the workshop leader and lack of expectation of implementation. Coaching can remove barriers from traditional professional development by providing tea chers with timely feedback in the classroom ( Kretlow, Wood, & Cooke, 2011). Instructional coaching is one form of job embedded learning. Instructional coaching can provide ongoing, consistent support and feedback to a teacher (Croft et al., 2010). An i nstructional coach takes the role of conveying models of evidence based practices to the classroom by working with a teacher in a one to one or a small group
23 session (Croft et al., 2010; Knight, 200 7 ). Coaching is considered an effective model of embedded professional learning as it is highly individualized and addresses issues teachers face daily in their classroom (Knight, 200 7 ). Coaching has long been thought of as an approach to build capacity for change and improvement ( Knight 200 7 ). It is a fast g rowing strategy used by the business world as the strain between individual needs and united needs presents a perpetual challenge for improvement ( Huff, Preston, & Goldring 2013). Coaches can situate themselves as allies by respecting the autonomy of the teacher, giving voice, and encouraging reflection (Knight 2016). Coaching builds off of strategies and skills where people learn best and is a form of professional development that brings out the best in people, uncovers strengths, and cultivates compas sion (Aguilar, 2013). Coaching allows for more immediate feedback ( Kretlow, Wood, & Cooke, 2011) without evaluation, which contributes to a positive school climate (Carlisle & Bereb itsky, 2011) and increases the likelihood that teachers will be willing to take risks. Official feedback systems are weak in many schools, often limited to one or two discussions with a supervisor where the feedback can be rendered less effective due to the authority of the superior (Bloom et al., 2005). School based instructi onal coaches can also support teachers with just in time feedback as they implement new strategies under the coaches' observation. Enlisting the aid of instructional coaches creates more opportunity for teachers to try strategies and reflect with a peer a bout actual instructional practices ( Teemant, Wink, &Tyra, 2011). principle during professional learning. Knight and Cornett (2009) found that teachers
24 who had coaching in addition to the traditional workshop were significantly more likely to implement new practices at deeper levels than those who were given the new knowledge only in a workshop setting. Teemant, Wink, and Tyra, (2011) found that coaching models can have a positive i mpact on teaching and learning when coaching strategies are used as a follow up to traditional workshops. In this study, the researchers found that coaching led to a transfer of new skills, enhancing practice through teacher change. Teemant, Wink, and Ty ra, (2011) brought forward the case that coaching is an effective professional development strategy for eliciting change as the teachers in the study took advantage of the partnership model during ongoing cycles of assessment to move their practice forward Several studies substantiate the impact coaching can have on classroom instruction. Ganz, Goodwyn, Boles, Hong, Rispoli, Lunch and Kite (2013) found that coaching increased efficacy with the Picture Exchange Communication System (PECS) following instruct ion with job embedded coaching sessions with therapists working specifically with students with autism spectrum disorders. Zan and Donegan Ritter (2014) got similar findings when working on the Classroom Assessment Scoring System (CLASS) dimensions with ce rtified and non certified teachers. In this tightly controlled study, the researchers found that when teachers were given information in a workshop setting and then provided with expert coaching, teachers showed modest improvement on specific strategies be ing used in the classroom (Zan & Ritter, 2014). Further, Burke (2013) found that as a result of workshop based instruction followed up by coaching, teachers implemented strategies five months after the workshop and coaching activities ceased.
25 Principals m ay benefit from coaching in similar ways to teachers. Even when principals have knowledge of laws, policies, or skills in teaming, collaboration, and leadership, they can often benefit from confidential conversations that assist them when they move to ano ther level or into a new district ( Hopkins Thompson 2000). Coaching can be a means of building collective capacity for principals and formal teacher leaders, creating the strong shared leadership necessary to create change ( Mangin & Dunsmore, 2015 ). We know less about the actions leaders enact on a day to day basis to be instructional leaders moving instruction forward; however, using coaching and shared sense making with a team may give us the insights we need to make behaviors explicit and broaden the approach district wide (Neumerski, 2012). Mombourquetts and Bedard (2014) concluded that coaching for principals works in similar ways as with teachers. In this study, the researchers interviewed 18 veteran school administrators all working in a school d istrict wishing to move the focus of principals from managerial leadership to more instructional leadership. The researchers found that when the district goals of focusing professional development around leadership competencies tightly aligned with the job embedded actions of coaching school leaders found themselves open to engaging in collaboration around the teaching and learning process (Mombourquette & Bedard, 2014). Honig (2012) conducted a study in three urban sites in the United States following thr ee Instructional Leadership Directors from the district central offices as they worked within a coaching structure assigned to a range of 9 to 28 principals. Two hundred eighty three interviews were conducted; over 265 hours of observations were done with 200 documents also being examined Implications for practice in this study
26 indicated that leaders of districts should pay particular attention to the fundamental shifts it takes for central office administrators to move from a directive stance to one of co aching (Honig, 2012). Additionally, the researchers contend that district leaders should pay particular attention to the time it takes to do this work well and that the number of principals assigned should be kept to a ratio of one principal per half day t hat the district is willing to allocate to this work (Honig, 2012). Implications for research included deepening the knowledge of the actual skills and practices that central office administrators employ when taking a coaching stance as the authors noted t hat the three Instructional Leadership Directors followed in this study carried out their roles significantly differently (Honig, 2012). It can be noted that qualities of effective professional learning go in tandem with the coaching experience. In the sy nthesis by Desimone (2009), the author included collective participation as a feature of the type of professional learning that moves into actual implementation. Collective participation may be a significant concept in the coaching of school leaders as thi s brings an image of adults working together to make in schools as competent leaders in the work of school reform. Effective collaboration and access to structures that incorporate time for reflection, tied to organizational learning, can empower educators to join together and renew understanding of problems connected to their work (Schon 1992). The work of district officials can impact principals negatively or positively. When districts mandate or direct strategies or initiatives, principals can feel like the work of
27 s to communicate the district can also influence the work of the principal by building self assurance and a sense of collective capacity assisting in the prioritizi ng of achievement, instruction, and school improvement ( Neumerski, 2012). Principals seldom receive explicit feedback that helps them know whether their actions are consistent with their own intentions or the district vision ( Huff, Preston, & Goldring, 20 13 ). Offering coaching to principals in similar ways that we offer coaching to teachers may help to bridge this gap. Effective schools literature suggested a balanced and shared leadership approach includes multiple individuals in formal and informal lea dership roles ( Neumerski 2012). However, the literature discussing effective schools compartmentalizes leadership roles and their impact. It is problematic that the collected works focusing on what principals should do is detached from what instructiona l coaches should do ( Neumerski, 2012). Principals, teachers and coaches are asked to increasingly intertwine their work, and combining the literature to support them may help to create a more cohesive framework in which they work ( Neumerski, 2012). Fullan (2014) made the case that the responsibilities expected of a principal have increased colossally in the past 20 years. Principals are expected to possess educational expertise as well as organize the many management functions of a school such as staffin g, the budget, parents, union representatives and student behaviors (Bloom et al 2005). Huff, Preston, and Goldring (2013) pointed out the need to examine coaching for school principals and evaluate its effectiveness for supporting the work of building leaders. With a clear understanding of the value of coaching, a district
28 can move forward to implement a program that supports building leaders new to their positions. The Process of Coaching and Skills of a Coach As the literature suggests coaching as a promising form of job embedded professional learning, it is not surprising that many books and articles focused on the the coaching process are Jim Knight (200 7 2014) Diane Sweeney (2013), and Elena Aguilar (2013). Each of these authors describe the process of coaching in very similar ways. In this section, I weave together their work to describe the process of coaching in a step by step fashion, and then discuss the ways this work on coaching teachers has been adapted by others and applied to the principalship. Instructional coaches work from the supposition that knowledge is grown when it is learned on the job (Knight, 200 7 ). They work from the standpoint that job embedd ed learning is the work of the partnership between the coach and the coachee. Instructional coaches create the environment where this work thrives by developing a relationship with the coachee where the coachee feels cared for and where deep reflection le ads to learning (Aguilar, 2013). Coaches typically begin their work by enrolling a teacher (Sweeney, 2013; Knight, 200 7 ). Once the coach and the coachee have established trust, they move into the current reality of the situation the coachee is working in (Sweeney, 2013; Knight, 200 7 ; Aguilar, 2013). Next in the cycle, the partners establish goals for their work, followed by an action plan that clearly lays out the role of each person in the action plan (Aguilar, 2013). Sween e y (2013) has reminded coache s to ensure goals are set that have a student focus to keep priorities fixed on learning while Knight (2016)
29 recommends beginning with a clear depiction of current reality by setting commanding goals based on student need. Data can come in a variety of fo rms as the teacher can ask the coach to collect student data during an observation, a teacher might have formative data from a classroom assessment that she or he wants to improve, or the teacher might want the coach to collect teacher observation data dur ing an observation (Knight, 200 7 ). Knight (200 7 ) also reminds coaches to keep the focus with the data on instruction or what he names as the big four issues when improving instruction: behavior or creating a safe productive learning community for all, cont ent knowledge, direct instruction and the four practices within direct instruction that make an impact, and formative assessment. At this point, the cycle takes less of a linear approach and becomes very cyclical in nature as the coach and the coachee work together to continually determine next steps based on the results of the action steps until the goal is met or a new goal can be set (Aguilar, 2013; Knight, 200 7 Sweeney, 2013). Huff, Preston, and Goldring (2013) offered a framework for coaching cycles between a principal and a coach that mirrors the stages mentioned above with teachers. This framework begins with a groundwork stage that calls for setting the tone for coaching by building an effective working relationship between the coach and the prin cipal. This is the opportunity for the coach and the principal to establish their desires for making the relationship work such as communication preferences and desired outcomes of the cycle. Bloom et al., (2005) maintained the most critical job of the c oach is to build and maintain trust with the coachee.
30 The second and third stages of the framework are the assessment and feedback stage, followed by goal setting ( Huff, Preston, & Goldring, 2013 ). Bloom et al. (2005) offered insights that in this stage, but also to the data that is available. To parallel instructional coaching with teachers, Knight (200 7 ) reminded teacher coaches to use student data when looking at the current reality. The fourth stage of the framework is action planning ( Huff, Preston, & Goldring, 2013 ). During principal coaching, this stage gives the coach and the principal an opportunity to look at effective school research as well as the research around the competencies of tra nsformative leaders. Utilization of leadership strategies may offer the coach and the principal opportunities to reflect on practices that work. The final stage in the framework offered by Huff, Preston, and Goldring (2013) is ongoing assessment and supp ort which means the coach and the principal use the data they are collecting or the actions they have agreed upon to make decisions about where to go next. At this point in the framework, the coaching cycle grows very cyclical in nature and uses a process of inquiry, monitoring of progress, and continuing to try new things similar to the proces s that Knight (2016) describes. It likely will be during the final stage in the framework that the coach needs to continually reflect on strategies and skills to ensu re that the problem solving endeavor feels effective to both the coach and the principal. This is a stage where feedback and dialogue skills get very important (Bloom et al., 2005). In order to utilize feedback effectively, it is important that the coac h and the coachee clarify what critical behaviors are being observed so data can be directly linked
31 to those behaviors. It is during this stage of the cycle where the coach and principal work together to bring out the best in both, discover and build off t he strengths of each individual, and shape each as resilient educators through dispositions of listening and meeting each other where they are (Aguilar, 2013). Foundational to any coaching situation are some basic coaching skills that include relationship building, listening, observing, questioning, and giving feedback (Bloom et al., 2005). Aguilar (2013) maintained that this requires a view of all who enter coaching relationships as capable of changing practice under the belief that all people can learn and change. about the skills instructional coaches should include in their practice but while they have conceptually written about the topic, very little research outlines the acti ons that coaches actually utilize in actual situations during coaching cycles as the role of an instructional coach is broadly defined across the nation ( G all ucci, Van Lare, Yoon, & Boatright, 2010 ). ork, to uncover interactions that work well as well as practices that can continue to be honed (Neumerski, 2012). This study will look to define with in a specific context what wor ked well and what interactions are of concern. Wheatley (2002) stated tha t changing the world starts with listening to one another again. Knight (2016) furthered this by saying everyone has better experiences when they feel listened to, valued, and engaged. Powerful coaching is grounded in the simple skills of relationship bui lding, listening, questioning, and feedback which can support principals as they face the many challenges of school leadership, such as
32 living under the spotlight, letting go of emotional reactions to difficulties, letting go of perfectionism, and acceptin g the fact that their job is never finished (Bloom et al., 2005). Listening and presuming both parties can get better are at the heart of coaching for improvement that lies at the center of job embedded professional learning (Aguilar, 2013). Knight (2011 ) says He maintains asking good questions and listening for the answers is a trait all good coaches have. Knight (2016) upholds that dialogue is not probable to occur without asking effective questions which open up conversations fostering respect and building relationships. Aguilar (2013) says in order for us to give feedback that others will hear, we should be intentional about our p hrasing and plan out our conversations. She goes on to say that feedback that invites reflection is important because the reflection can make the next steps transparent (Aguilar, 2013). Knight (2011) furthers these points stating that feedback should come as the coach and the coachee sit as partners interpreting any data that has been gathered in lieu of a top down approach to feedback. At the core of these skills is an inclination to focus on what is working, with an asset perspective that will help us mo ve forward to achieve greater success (DeWitt, 201 7 ). Horsager (2009) furthered this by maintaining that connections constructed on strengths and relationships build participation and engagement by our colleagues. Adults are naturally more caring when th ey feel cared for themselves, indicating structures to support collegiality including coaching practices focusing on reflective practice may be critical for creating environments where everyone thrives (Benard, 2004).
33 Knight (2016) maintained that respect ful conversations build a tie between people that is deep and strong, potentially being the glue that holds together relationships. Listening, questioning, and feedback are skills that fall within the broader umbrella of respectful conversations that buil d meaning between colleagues. In Pedagogy of the Oppressed Freire (19 7 0) criticized the view of students as receptacles to be filled rather than humans engaged in learning; a similar case can be made for the work of the district office with principals. plans for them, and engaging principals in the work of school improvement through coaching conversations may hold promise for districts that want to have leaders who feel more connected to the work of school im provement (Knight, 2016). Aguilar (2013) maintain ed coach is engaged in a process of transforming her own behaviors, beliefs, and being Coaching conversations require leaders to think of themselves as partners in the work as opposed to the expert (Cheliotes & Reilly, 2010). Since there is not one definition of coaching, the leader and the coach need to navigate their time together, making time to note practices that work ( Taylor, 2008 ). Coaching is showing promise as a method of job embedded professional learning that can transform traditional professional learning into experiences where participants put their skills into practice in their workplace (Gulamhussein, 2013). As an educator in a district office position, I looked to the coaching research to reposition my work with building principals, utilizing a model of professional learning that honors the expertise of both of us and helps us both grow as practitioners and as part ners in school improvement.
34 Knight (20011) maintains that a partnership approach to coaching which puts humanity back into professional learning is a strategy for professional learning worth taking note of. When leaders act with an understanding of the d ay to day experiences of teachers, the likelihood of sustainable practices increases. Knight (200 7 ) includes seven partnership principles that should be included in a coaching framework: equality, choice, voice, reflection, dialogue, praxis, and reciproci ty. Knight (200 7 ) defines equality as professional learning done side by side with teachers as opposed to professional learning done to them. When a coach embeds equality into their work with teachers, the teacher and the coach are seen as equals and par tners. Neither participant is viewed as having all the answers and neither one gets the final word because of their status. Knight (200 7 ) defines choice as giving the teacher input on what and how they learn. When a coach embeds choice into their work with teachers, the teacher feels their opinion matters and is valued. Choice in coaching is not completely infinite as it falls within the vision of the school but the teacher knows that he/she can offer input to the way in which the learning is carried out. Knight (200 7 ) defines voice as professional learning that empowers the teacher to speak his/her truth. When a coach embeds voice into their work with teachers, the teacher feels respected and knows that he/she can give an opinion without fear of retributio n. Teachers are supported in bringing up roadblocks to initiatives when they are allowed to use their voice. Knight (200 7 ) defines reflection as thinking about the past, the present and the future as an integral part of their professional learning. When a coach embeds reflection
35 into their work with teachers, the teacher takes time to think deeply about where they have been which has gotten them where they are. They also think about the gap between where they are and their desired state of being. Reflectio n offers teachers time to think systemically about their practice and learn from their experience (Hall & Simeral, 2015). Knight (2016) defines dialogue as participants listening to one another respectfully and with empathy in a way that encourages open c onversation. When a coach embeds dialogue into their work with teachers, the teacher feels valued and included in conversations building relationships between the partners. During dialogue the teacher and the coach create shared meaning together by allowi ng critical analyzation of assumptions as they engage in back and forth conversation. Knight (200 7 ) defines praxis as engaging in conversations that apply the learning to their real life teaching practice. When a coach embeds praxis into their work with t eachers, the teacher is free to share roadblocks that may hinder the work. The teacher is also free to be open about their excitement and their hesitation as they move forward with their new learning. 7 ) final partnership principle is reciproc ity and it is defined as the teacher and the coach expecting to get as much as they give during a coaching conversation. When coaches embed reciprocity into their work with teachers, the coach does not come to the conversation as an expert but instead as a co learner ready to build shared meaning of the new learning together. In this section, I have used the literature to build a case for implementing a model for professional learning for principals that mirrors that which has been studied with
36 teachers instructional coaching. In the next sections, I describe the intervention I utilized to bring a coaching model between a central office administrator and principal to life, beginning with the context within which I implemented this model of coaching and t he principal I invited to be a participant in the coaching process. Context for Study and Participant My work as a central office administrator takes place in Fort Dodge, a rural medium sized district in the state of Iowa serving about 3,8 00 students. 7 school districts, Fort Dodge has the 26 th highest rate of poverty. People in most states would consider this a small district but it is relatively large for Iowa I am the director of education services, which means I serve as an administr ator facilitating curriculum, instruction, and assessment. The role also includes supporting building administrators and district teacher leaders. Our district demographics are diverse when compared to typical Iowa districts including high percentages o f students who receive free or reduced price lunch, ranging from 4 7 % in our high school to 7 4% at one elementary school. District standardized achievement scores show on average a 20 % gap between Caucasian students and students of color. There is a simil ar gap with an average of 20% between our students of poverty and their peers. A culture of blame permeates many of the schools due to low student achievement and longstanding schools needing assistance labels. Teachers feel that administrators and paren ts blame them, administrators feel that community members and teachers blame them, and families and students feel that administrators and teachers blame them. This culture of blame is particularly challenging for new principals in our district
37 East Elem entary hosted one of our new principals to our district this year. East Elementary School serves just over 400 students. Thirteen percent of these students receive s pecial education services on an individualized education plan. Seventy five percent of th e students qualify for free or reduced price lunches. The building has one lead principal, an at risk lead teacher, one guidance counselor, an after school coordinator, a school social worker, 20 general classroom teachers, two special education teachers, three teachers who teach special classes (i.e., art, music, and physical education), and 10 Title I teachers. East has been on the school in need of assistance (SINA) list for four years. East the third and fourth grade s qua lify the school for the SINA label. East teachers made over 2,500 referrals in the 2015 16 school year for behavior issues. Defiance and insubordination constitute 29% of these referrals, with 60% of those coming from classroom situations. I focused this study on incorporating coaching into my work with the new building principal a t East Elementary to better establish a supportive relationship as she completed her first year of administrative work in a challenging sch ool context. According to Hopkins Tho mpson (2000), even principals who have done the job before may need mentoring in a new district or when they have taken on a new position within a district. Given that the needs of a principal new to the district may be greater than more experienced princ ipals in the district, I believed focusing this study on this new principal would be of the greatest benefit. The new principal at East Elementary, Julia Miller has had experience as an assistant principal in another district but was new to my district an d new to a head
3 8 principal position this year. I extended an invitation to her to voluntarily engage in the process of coaching as described in the next section of this dissertation. I believe that having engaged in the coaching process with one principal has helped inform my future work as I endeavor to make coaching a part of my regular routine. Description of the Intervention Coaching a principal was different from coaching a teacher since a principal does not work directly in a classroom with students on a daily basis, so the focus of coaching was not on incorporating new instructional strategies into classroom practice or the big four as Knight (200 7 ) references. In lieu of a focus on instructional strategies in a classroom, a focus on embedding Knig 7 ) partnership principles into our work together was used to guide the coaching cycle in my work coaching a principal. When the principal and I met to discuss her practice and area( s) to focus our coaching work we used the partnership principles in our conversations and focus ed on activities that would build trust with teachers and families at her building My meetings with Julia (principal at East ) were once a week in which we engaged in a 30 to 60 minute coa ching conversation I served as a thinking partner to assist her in thinking about her work in the building as she worked to build trust both with her staff and her families. The conversations serve d as a time for Julia to reflect on what is going well and what areas she could use support from Central Office. Huff, Preston, and Goldring (2013) offers four stages for instructional coaching with principals. The first stage is the groundwork stage which sets the tone for coaching by building an effective working relationship To do this, I began our work with an interview to get to know Julia better using the following questions as suggested by Aguilar (2013).
39 Can you tell me about why you went into teaching and then what drew you to administration? What do you enjoy about your position? Wha t is challenging in your position? What do you think are your strengths? What do you think are your areas for growth? What are the big challenges for this school right now? What is your understanding of my role in this co aching experience? What are your hopes and fears for our work? What do you need from me as a coach? What do you anticipate might be a challenge or get in the way of our working together? The second stage of the framework offered by Huff, Preston, and Goldr ing (2013) is the assessment stage. The assessment stage in this study lasted for two weeks with Julia and I having formal coaching conversations one time each week. The first two formal coaching conversations Julia and I had set the state for the followin g six weeks as those two conversations gave us the chance to set some goals for our work by talking through what we each hoped to gain out of our formal coaching conversations. During the assessment stage, I began using a tool called the Collaborative Log (Figure 1 1) from Bloom et al. (2005). This tool guided our conversations by assessing what is working, what should be the current focus or concern, and what e ach of our next steps will be. In the log, we a dd ed items to t set the date for our next meeting. The purpose of using the log was to ensure productive conversations that focused both on what is going wel l as well as where to go next. This tool helped us
40 continually asses our progress toward our goal as suggested by leading s cholars on coaching (Bloom et al., 2005; Knight, 200 7 ). Collaborative Log Principal: Date: Mentor: School: Current Focus, Challenges, Concerns: s Next Steps: Figure 1 1. Collaborative l o g The next six weeks were spent in the feedback stage ( Huff, Preston, & Goldring, 2013 ). This was the point when Julia and I reflected on the actions we had taken, talked about challenges in Julia gaged in common learning experiences that were the core of our work. We continued to use the Collaborative Log throughout our formal coaching conversations but it should be noted that Julia and I had several interactions throughout the week in addition to our coaching conversations which sometimes made this tool less helpful as we had already taken actions we had on our agendas. Having the tool did help me reflect on our conversations and whether we were completing the tasks we set out to accomplish.
41 Fin ally, at week eight we reached the ongoing assessment and support stage ( Huff, Preston, & Goldring, 2013 ). At this point, we discontinued the use of the Collaborative Log We drew some conclusions about our formal work together on this study and wrapped up with a follow up interview. Our work did not end here. A t this point we ended our formal weekly conversations and instead kept our informal support conversations by touch ing base via phone calls and planning meetings throughout the school year. As I impl emented the process of coaching a principal as described above, I systematically studied the ways the process played out in my work as a central office administrator. In the next section, I lay out the methods that I used to carry out my research. Researc h Methods The purpose of this study was to understand how I, as a central office administrator, can incorporate the principles of instructional coaching into my work with a new principal in a high need, high poverty school as she worked to build trust with the teachers and families in her building The center of the study was informing and improving my own practice, making practitioner research, a deliberate study done by a practitioner using their own site as the context, a logical approach to my research ( Miller 200 7 ; Cochran Smith & Lytle, 2009; Dana & Yendol Hoppey, 2009;). The desire to improve my own practice while supporting a principal new to my district offers a deliberate passion to this problem of practice and work. Systematically and intentio nally studying my own practice through the process of practitioner research brought a new level of commitment to improving my practice as a central office administrator. Practitioner research involves employing a cycle of questioning, collecting data, ana lyzing the data, and making changes to practice (Dana & Yendol Hoppey, 2009). This process fits nicely in the realm of a coaching conversation because
42 inquiry is also at the heart of a coaching cycle. The coupling of practitioner research with the coachin g cycle helped me and the principal I worked with reflecting on our own practices (Dan a & Yendol Hoppey, 2009). A ccording to Kettering (Kettering in B friendly welco (Cochran Smith & Lytle, 2009; Dana & Yendol Hoppey, 2009; Miller 200 7 ). As I engaged in the research p rocess, it was important to address the issue of trustworthiness as a practitioner researcher A s a practitioner researcher it is important to consider my own values, assumptions, subjectivities and biases as an educator that may play a part in my analysis and interpretation of data. In the Appendix I provide a brief overview of my professional background leading to this study so the reader can understand my background experiences, th e scholars who have influenced m y thinking, and my beliefs related to the content of this study: operating as a central office administrator more like an instructional coach and less like a director Data Collection se ven partnership principles for instructional coaching translate into a central office the coaching intervention by collecting four types of data: (a) artifacts prod uced during our journal, and (d) interview with the principal regarding her perceptions of the coaching process as well as examples when Julia felt the partnership pri nciples were present in our work as well as challenges to using the partnership principles.
43 During the first meeting with Julia I conducted an interview that helped the principal and I establish a relationship of trust and empathy. Even though Julia and I have a history of working together and have a strong amount of respect and trust with each other, I still felt it was important for me to take the time to interview Julia and get more insight into what drives her as an educator as well as the strengths a nd challenges she sees in her work. As previously stated, during each subsequent coaching meeting, I produced a collaborative log Figure 1 2 provides an example of one of these completed logs. Collaborative Log Principal: Julia Miller Date: 3/9/1 7 M entor: Stacey Cole School: East *building a new culture around student achievement (not the end of the journey but moving in the right direction) *having leadership help with guided reading; having learning opportunities for guided readi ng Current Focus, Challenges, Concerns: *challenges at the systems level with evaluation issues *challenges with learning guided reading and taking care of management issues in the building that need to be handled *communication of plans for changes in gu ided reading; wait until after spring break and IA Assessments *communicate out changes in small gro up *plan to attend family engagement assessment work in April Next Steps: *talk to math consultants and work on plans for supporting math professional learning; bring back to principals at next district wide meeting *finalize plans for family engagement work in April Figure 1 2. Completed collaborative log As a natural part of our coaching practice, these logs recorded the action occurring during the coaching session (Bloom et al., 2005), helping Julia and me both record our thinking and keep us accountable to our actions, as well as serve as a reminder of our progress. Systematically collecting these logs and viewing t hem over time served as
44 one form of data to capture the action and the thinking that occurred during coaching meetings (Dana & Yendol Hoppey, 2009). Audio recordings of our coaching conversations provided another data set. that educators often collect their best data by seeing and listening to the activities within their classroom and schools, video becomes a powerful form of data collection for the practitioner recorded each conversation over the eight weeks which were then transcribed. A reflective journal provides a way for a practitioner researcher to capture his/her thinking over time in relationship to the research stu dy (Dana, 2009). When journaling, it is important for a practitioner researcher to commit to a specific time to journal as well as s tructure for Hoppey, 2014, p. 113). After each coaching conversation, I spent 15 20 m inutes reflecting on the conversation was guided by these prompts: 1. relationship to helping this principal build trust with teachers? 2. Based on what happened and accomplishments, what did I learn about the process of coaching a principal as a central office administrator and my own coaching practice? 3. What insight(s) have I gained based on what I have learned? 4. What will I do the same and differently next week? This routine helped me document my immediate thinking, which helped me keep my focus between coaching conversations. Figure 1 3 is an example of an entry in my
45 What happe coaching session? What was accomplished in relationship to helping this principal build trust with teachers? This conversation will lead to some future conversations that will likely help Julia establish more consistency across the building during small group reading. The only piece I worry teacher voice in this decision so it could contribute to a negative feeling in the building potentially taking us a step backward with trust. This be ing said, the building needs consistency in order to get better student results. Right now there is a lot of wasted time with some students so we need to make a change, we will just need to think about how to make that change happen. We just need to think about how we communicate this so everyone understands that this decision is being made with students in mind. Based on what happened and accomplishments, what did I learn about the process of coaching a principal as a central office administrator and my o wn coaching practice? about how I can better support them and have them see my role as someone that should be helpful to them in their role. It seems to me that they deal with similar issues but not this process will take time to broaden to take to more voic e without giving the impression that we are in a free for all which could contribute to a lack of focus from the district point of view. Balancing systems thinking and individual coaching could present challenges. What insight(s) have I gained based on w hat I have learned? I keep thinking about how I can offer this type of support more back to some original thoughts about offering this support to principals in their first year and just being a listening ear for that we have at every level. I think those are very important in helping us move our mission and vision forward however ort that balance the individual assistance they need with the make this happen, but I would like to build in monthly conversations with e ach of my head principals in the future if I can. In order to do this though going to have to think extra meetings every month. I would like to think about how much time this really takes m e to think about how much time that would require of me each month. What will I do the same and differently next week? I really like having the opportunity to walk around the building with Julia and reflect on what we saw together. I think this builds o ur relationship but also builds trust between us as we build our shared understandings about quality instruction. Have that common experience in her building served as a nice anchor for our coaching conversation. Figure 1 3 journal Finally, at the end of my data collection period, I interviewed Julia to seek information about her perceptions about our use of the seven partnership principles. I asked Julia to
46 think of examples when the partnership principles seemed evident an d/or easy to her. I also asked her to think about what challenges were exposed for her when thinking about using the partnership principles. To create an interview protocol, I turned to Jacob and Furgerson (2012) for tips for students new to the field of qualitative research, who suggest a script for the beginning and end of an interview, and the creation of open ended questions, all while remaining flexible and willing to change the questions if need be (Jacob & Furgerson, 2012). The questions I asked du ring the final interview were: W hat experiences had you had with central office administration prior to this coaching experience ? T ell me about the experiences of working with a central office administrator in the role of a coach versus the role of a dire ctor Looking at the partnership principles, can you think of times where you experienced any of those? Looking at the partnership principles, what challenges arose for you when thinking about using those with a central office administrator whether it be me or another central office administrator utilizing the partnership principles? W hat other ch allenges would you predict for other principals if central office administrators were to move to a coaching model? W hat did you want to say about this process b ut did not have a chance to? As practitioner researchers plan their data collection methods, they must also plan for Hoppey, 2014, p. 134). I collected data for nine wee ks as those that write about instructional coaching all agree that a coaching cycle last approximately four to six weeks (Augilar, 2013, Sweeney, 2013). While our need to continue to investigate wonderings and our time together did not feel completely fin alized, it was important for me to draw closure to the collection of data and articulate my findings (Dana &Yendol
47 Hoppey, 2014). Collection of data is one piece of the practitioner research process. After data were collected, the process of analysis began Data Analysis I used both formative and summative processes to analyze data through the eight weeks that I worked with Julia Formative analysis occurred at the end of each coaching conversation as I reflected on the coaching conversation in my research Formative data analysis occurred between each coaching meeting as I reread my journal entry and listened to the audio recording of the meeting and read the transcribed notes. In addition to formative data analysis, at the end of the study, I considered all data collected as a whole to summarize what I had learned during the study (Dana & Yendol Hoppey, 2009). For summative data analysis, I organized all of the data collected chronologically and read through it several times, coding the dat a using the seven partnership principles: equality, choice, voice, dialogue, reflection, praxis, and reciprocity. To code the data by partnership principle, I used the pre set codes of naming the seven principles. As I looked through the transcribed coac hing sessions, I looked for evidence of the seven partnership principles in the conversation s. E xamples of the coded data are shown in Table 1 1 Table 1 1. Examples of coded data Principle and Definition Applied to Central Office Leadership Coaching Exa mple from Coded Data Equality: Valuing the opinion of your partner and seeing each other as partners. The central office administrator views the opinion of the building principal with no less importance than their own idea. Julia: Yes, I think we move to the model that Melinda is offering and we sep away from the rigid agendas (Coaching Conversation #4). Choice: Participants work as individuals. The coach teacher into implementing certain practices. The building principal has choice in what decisions are made without the central office administrator taking a top down approach. Julia: I want to ensure there are fewer distractions during small group reading (Coaching Conversation #3) Julia: I feel like if we push all the g have less distractions. (Coaching Conversation #3)
48 Table 1 1. Continued Principle and Definition Applied to Central Office Leadership Coaching Example from Coded Data Voice: Participants speak their own truth in the c oaching conversation that is focused on the concerns of the teacher rather than on the agenda of the instructional coach. The central office administrator listens effectively to the building leader focusing on the concerns of the building principal and not the needs of the district. Julia: We have more transitions because they are walking down very long hallways to get between groups (Coaching Conversation #3). Julia: I think they will appreciate that you were a part of writing this (Coaching Conversation #6). Dialogue: Back and forth conversation that is learning centered between teacher and instructional coach where the participants lose sight of whose ideas are whose. The building principal feels safe to speak their truth without worrying that there w ill be repercussions. Conversations flow freely back and forth with both partners feeling free to speak opinions. Julia: It always felt like we came to the conversations to learn together and support each other to better the climate of the school (Final Interview). Reflection: The empowering of the teacher to shape, adapt or reconstruct ideas to meet the needs of their classroom. The building principal is enabled to shape, adapt and reconstruct ideas to meet the needs of the building. Julia: What doe s this look like for her districts? What would it mean for our teachers? (Coaching Conversation #4). Julia: I keep going back to my questions about getting more excited to learn from other districts (Coaching Conversatio n #2). Praxis: The act of learning about a concept, making sense of the concept and then applying the new ideas into our work. The building principal is at liberty to make meaning of a new concept and then apply it to the work that they do within the co ntext of their work. Julia: Having student learning displayed tied to standards was a get work in the halls displayed that tell our academic story (Coaching Conversation #2). Reciprocity: The belief that every inter action is an opportunity for each participant to learn. The central office administrator comes to every conversation as a learner expecting to learn as much during the conversations as the building principal. Stacey: I gained from our work today as it w as very beneficial for me to see small group reading in practice and not just how it looks in theory in Julia: I felt like I gained a lot from our conversations but I also felt like I gave back to Stacey during our conv ersations as well as we would talk through issues we both face (Final Interview). I then created data posters by principle. Each poster contained relevant data excerpts that illustrated that principle (Figure 4). Creating the posters allowed me to vis ualize my data by principle, and led me to believe I should begin writing up the results of my study in this way. In the process, I came to the discovery that the principles were
49 intricately intertwined within different parts of the same coaching conversat ions, so presenting my findings by each individual principle would artificially separate principles that coexisted within each coaching episode. As I realized that it did not m ake sense for me to analyze and write by principle, I began the process of looki ng for and selecting poignant excerpts or vignettes from our coaching that could illustrate the various principles and how they interplayed with one another within one particular segment of our coaching work. Figure 1 4. Data poster. Photo courtesy of author. Hence, the approach I took with the writing of C hapter 2 was to select four scenarios or vignettes from my work with Julia and analyze them by looking at which of the partnership principles were most prevalent in that coaching conversation or s equence. All of the vignettes selected were chosen to illustrate the interdependence of each
50 principle. I chose the first vignette as Julia had asked me to come to the building and talk to her about a challenge she was facing in regard to how literacy was playing out in two grade levels. It was important for me to share a vignette from which Julia had approached me asking me to be her thinking partner as we addressed the challenges she was facing. The second vignette was chosen because I wanted to highlight that while Julia faces challenges at the building level where she needs a thinking partner, I have similar needs from the district level where I need a building principal to help me think through unintended consequences of decisions I make for the distric t. The third vignette was chosen because Julia and I were engaging in new learning together. The instructional coaching research is clear that job embedded coaching works well when an instructional coach and a teacher follow up a workshop with coaching and I wanted to highlight the ways that leadership coaching can parallel that structure ( Teemant, Wink, &Tyra, 2011). The last vignette was chosen because this coaching conversation has significant implications for my future work with principals across our di strict. Julia and I walked around her building looking at the current reality of teaching and learning in the building and followed our visit with a coaching conversation where Julia and I wrote a feedback letter back to her staff. This vignette was signif icant because this not only served as a coaching conversation but also helped Julia and I build shared understandings about our beliefs about teaching and learning In C hapter 2 I present each section beginning with the vignette itself which is the stor y reconstructed from my interview transcripts and other pieces of data. I will follow that by an articulation and discussion of the various principles that played out in that vignette. I will end each section by discussing an analysis of that vignette and the
51 ways the principles played out in that vignette as well as what I learned both about the central office administrator and a principal. As I engage d in the process of data analysis, it is important to address the issue of trustworthiness as a practitioner researcher. Trustworthiness refers to the trustworthiness of inferences drawn by data and is used to describe quality criteria for qualitative academic research ( Mil ler et al., 200 7 ). To ensure the tru stworthiness of my work, I incorporate d the process of member checking. Member checking is also known as respondent validation and is frequently acclaimed in the social sciences as a key tool for establishing credibili ty in qualitative analysis gauging the coherence between the researcher and the respondents (Turner & Coen, 2008). After I complete d the process of summative data analysis, I share d m y analysis with the principal with whom I worked, and asked her to confi rm or disconfirm what I have learned about the process of coaching from my data. The principal with whom I worked agreed that I had accurately presented our work together. Significance of the Study and Overview of Dissertation This study consider ed how of a central office administrator wishing to take a coaching approach instead of a directive approach This study help ed me think about my own practice in relation to other building leaders across the school district and g a ve me an opportunity to reflect on what may potentially be gener alized to apply to other contexts and what might be specific to this one building. Fullan (200 7 ) argues reflection, inquiry, evidenc this study as I studied my work with Julia and how the partnership principles played a
52 part in our coaching conversations. Our coaching work will be presented in Chapter 2. In Chapter 3, I reflect on my learning through this research as a whole, sharing implications this study has had for my practice
53 CHAPTER 2 FINDINGS AND IMPLICATIONS For this study, I examined how I, as a C entral O ffice administrator, can incorporate the principles of ins tructional coaching into my work with a new principal in a high need s high poverty school as she works to build trust with the teachers and families in her building. I used partnership principles to guide my coaching and evaluate my work wi th the building principal. Knight said that coaching is an effective method for professional learning as it is highly individualized and addresses issues teac hers face daily in their classroom ( Knight, 200 7 principles were original ly used in a coach teacher relationship, my goal was to use them in a coaching relationship between a Central Office administrator and a building principal. My research question was: In what partnership principles for instructional serving as a leadership coach for a building principal? Over the course of the study, I collected various forms of data, including audio recordings of our coaching conversations, artifacts deve loped during coaching conversations, and a follow up interview with the principal I worked with. Analysis of the se 7 ) coaching principles in each of the coaching conversations, with dialogue being pervasive throughout all coaching conversations. The data also revealed some implications for the use of seven principles and for coaching in general. In this chapter, I present these findings.
54 The first section of this chapter will begin with a summary statement about the importance of professional coaching. I will then review 7 ) coaching principles first introduced in Chapter 1 followed by a description of how th e coaching principles were enacted by a Central Office administrator in a leadership coaching role. Following the summary of the coaching principles, I will highlight four vignettes from my work with the building principal. Each vignette wa s careful ly reconstructed using my data and is followed by a detailed discussion of the principles evident in the vignette. I end each vignette with an analysis of how the principles played out implications for practice, and what I learned. Looking across all four vignettes one principle clearly emerged as being the most important and the most prevalent : the dialogue principle. Therefore, I end this chapter with a section that discusses dialogue with evidence presented from all of the vignettes. The Need for Leadership Coaching Knight (200 7 ) makes the case that a primary emphasis of coaching is to enable proven practices that respond to problems in practice. He asserts that coaching goes beyond the pitfalls of traditional professional learning in schools by having a positive impact on teaching. Aguilar (2013) reminds reade rs that taking a coaching stance requires us all to see our colleagues with value. She stresses we must see those that we interact with in our schools as individuals capable of changing practices. Every school building within a district has unique needs s haped by the demographics of the students in the building and the culture the staff shares. Principals report feeling under great stress many days a week, potentially contributing to the low number of principals who report they have high job satisfaction ( Fullan, 2014).
55 Nationwide, 20% of first year principals leave their schools within the first or second year of taking leadership positions in their buildings (Burkhauser, Gates, Hamilton, & Ikemoto, 2012) due to the overwhelming responsibilities that come with both managing the building and being the instructional leader. The biggest influence from principals comes when launching operative school practices and building a collaborative, instruction based culture (Desravines, Aquino, Fenton, Riddick, & Gross daunting challenges, overwhelming responsibilities, and stressed out principals just suggested educational lead ers take an effective job embedded approach to professional development in instructional coaching and transfer those practices to leadership coaching to help our principals develop effective leadership skills (Hall et al., 2016). Instruction al Coaching Principles Through respectful conversations, people can form connections that are deep and strong, potentially creating a bond that holds together relationships (Knight, 2016). seven principles for coaching provide specific concepts th at can be used when analyzing professional coaching conversations. These principles include dialogue, voice, choice, reciprocity, equality, reflection, and praxis. Dialogue Knight (2011) defines dialogue as a way to use humility to have conversations that are learning centered rather than self centered. With dialogue, our ideas flow freely between each other, sometimes losing sight of whose ideas are whose (Knight, 2011).
56 mean s that the central office administrator requires both participants to speak their minds (Knight, 200 7 ). This means the principal has to trust the environment is safe and that there will be no repercussions from the principal bringing up ideas that the cent ral office administrator may not like. Principals must be free to speak their opinions if we want to engage them in partnership coaching that involves dialogue (Knight, 200 7 ). Central office administrators must be willing to engage in open conversations wi th principals that involve more than simply taking in information (Knight, 2016). Central office administrators must be willing to create meaning together by thinking together if they want to use the dialogue principle (Knight, 2016). Voice Knight (2011) having the principle of voice in coaching requires open and candid conversations between the teacher and the coach. He added that this requires coaches to focus on rk (Knight, 2011). Voice requires that all participants in the conversation speak their own truth and express their own points of view (Knight, 2011). When we give voice to our partner, we commit to authentically listen to them (Knight, 2016a). Applying K means that the central office administrator becomes an effective listener and asks good questions (Knight, 2011). Applying the principle of voice in leadership coaching
57 requires the coac h to listen, ask good questions, find common ground, control difficult emotions, and love your partners (Knight, 2011). It requires the central office administrator to focus on the concerns of the principal and not only on the concerns of the central offi ce. To do this, central office administrators must use their listening skills to include learning to listen with empathy (Knight, 2016a). This will help establish a setting where principal s feel at ease to say what they are thinking (Knight, 2011). Choice Knight (2011) defined choice in instructional coaching as colleagues working together as individuals where one does not make decisions for the other. He expanded practic es that the coach wants. Using choice in coaching means partners are equal and they are making decisions collaboratively (Knight, 200 7 ). This means that to every extent possible, teachers have a great deal of choice in what they learn and in what way they learn as they collaboratively make conclusions with the instructional coach (Knight, 200 7 ). Teachers see themselves as decision makers within a framework when they are engaged in the choice principle. om the central office chair means that the central office administrator comes to the table with the principal to make decisions about school improvement at the building level as opposed to taking a top down approach with the central office administrator co ming to the building with initiatives already decided. While Knight (2011) cautioned that complete freedom of did assert that choice is essential in assuring autonomy with building leaders. It means it is the responsibility of the district to set the vision and provide the framework for the
58 principals, but then the central office administrator needs to help principals make that vision work within the culture and structu re of their own building. Reciprocity Knight (2011) define d learning interaction is an opportunity for everyone to learn He expanded his definition by reminding readers that if you a re unwilling to be coach ab coach. He made the claim that reciprocity is an inevitable outcome of a true partnership as partners come together to learn with and from each other. Reciprocity requires that each participant in the conversati on has a willingness to listen deeply and bring out the best in each other (Aguilar, 2013). means that the central office administrator comes to the table to learn with an d from the principal as much as the principal comes to learn with and from the central office administrator. Central office administrator and principal are partners as opposed to coming together with their rank in the system in mind Reciprocity means ev eryone in the conversation believe s in the knowl edge and expertise of the other and everyone benefits from the success or experience of others (Knight, 200 7 ). Equality K night (2011) defined equality in instructional coaching as teache rs rather than training done to Using the equality principle in coaching means you value the opinion of your partner and you see each other as equals. Equality is central to a coaching conversation when, following a discussion, you are m aking decisions together.
59 Applying K to coaching from the central office chair means that the central office administrator sees the opinion of the principal as equally important as their own (Knight, 200 7 ). It requires the ce ntral office administrator to value the ideas and thoughts of the principal equally with no less importance than their own ideas (Knight, 200 7 ). It requires that the collaborating principal realizes their expertise and perspective is valued and significant Reflection Reflection is about encouraging teachers to consider concepts before accepting them. K night (200 7 ) defined reflection in instructional coaching as teachers to consider how an idea might be shaped, adapted, or reconstructed so that it we have done in the past, what we are doing now, and what we will be do ing in the 7 p. 54). Knight (2011) further defined this principle when he stated that reflection is only possible when people have the liberty to accept or reject the ideas before them. Applying K to co aching from the central office chair means that the central office administrator engages with the principal in tasks that require the pair to think about what might have been done differently in situations, monitoring how an activity is proceeding, or plan ning about how to do something in the future. Knight (2011) asserted that thinking is a critical part of scholarship. If central office administrators are going to engage in scholarly work that impacts classrooms, reflection is crucial to this work. It req uires the central office administrator to weigh ideas with the principal, but allow the principal to make the final decision for his/her building.
60 In addition, a central office administrator who wants to use the reflection principle should promote action t hat reflective practitioners use to build the capacity of their building leaders. Praxis K night (2011) defined praxis in instructional coaching as ize steps in a process; instead, it is about taking a concept, learning it with understanding, and thinking about what that looks like in our own practice. Praxis requires participants to make sense of material using choice and deliberation and then apply that thinking to their work (Knight, 200 7 ). Applying K to coaching from the central office chair means that the central office administrator allows the principal to think about the new concept within his or her own context. Appl ying praxis to the work with principals requires central office administrators to recognize that the work being done is important for the principal, their teachers, and their students (Knight, 200 7 ). The principal needs to trust that the central office ad ministrator will not be judgmental of the current reality. Praxis requires the principal and central office administrator to be honest about the current reality of the concept to ensure they begin where they are and not where they want to be. In the next section, I present four vignettes from my work with Julia Each vignette specifically addresses the coaching principles just described that were evident in our conversations.
61 The Vignettes The vignettes are detailed stories carefully reconstructed from my data, that focus on one professional concern that Julia and I discussed during our coaching conversations. The first vignette centers on literacy development and the organization of small group instruction in Julia this issue t he principles of choice, voice, and reciprocity were evident in the coaching. The second vignette centers on Julia giving me feedback on a district math initiative and her thoughts on our continued support of our teachers engaging in this work. As we talke d through this issue, the principles of equality, reflection and reciprocity were evident in the coaching. The third vignette centers on professional learning on family engagement that Julia and I participated in toge ther In this coaching conversation p raxis with reflection were evident. The last vignette centers on classroom visits and giving feedback to Julia staff. Julia and I wanted to engage in some l eadership practices that we gained from reading Rethinking Teacher Supervision and Evaluation by Kim Marshall. We were most interested in thinking about how we could move away from teacher supervision and evaluation that included practices such as infrequent, announced classroom visits, formal annual evaluations, and burdensome, laborious evaluations to repeated unannounced visits, continuous recommendations, and efficient rubrics. In this vignette voice and reflection were most evident. I conclude each vignette with what I learned from the coaching conversation and implications this may have for cent ral office administrators who may wish to engage in leadership coaching. Vignette 1: Challenges at the Building Level In our district, elementary buildings are required to set aside three hours each day to focus on literacy development. One hour of this ti me is called small group
62 instruction. During small group instruction, students are grouped based on their instructional reading level so that below grade level readers can receive targeted instruction to push toward grade level expectations and at or abov e grade level readers can engage in reading enrichment activities. For all students, this hour is spent in three different sessions: guided reading group, computer based literacy program time, and choice reading or word work. During our third coaching con versation, Julia voiced her frustration with some of the aspects of the three hour reading block in her building and what she perceived as challenges that needed to be addressed to improve literacy instruction. Her overall concern was a feeling that stude nts were losing instruction time as they transitioned from room to room to the fullest. She brought this up by sharing that she had been talking to the instructional coach and the lead Title teacher at her building regarding her conc erns about how to structure small group reading in grades 3 and 4 Julia : I want to ensure there are fewer distractions during the instructional portion of small group reading. Stacey: Okay Julia : Right now it's the classroom teacher in the classroom doing guided reading during small group, and then there's a paraprofessional that goes back and forth between two classrooms to monitor the Lexia compu ter program and the other kids who are either doing read and use every instructional minute. Stacey: You mean the students lin ger to do everything that's not small group instruction t to their groups and use every minute? Julia : Right. I want to share my thoughts. (Coaching Conversation #3)
63 Julia described changes she wanted to make that would increase instruction time in small group instruc tion by changing the assignments of teac hers to different Julia : And then [the instructional coach] brought it to my attention again, and she says the same e thoughts about moving teachers and also sees that we have a lot of teachers not using every instructional minute. And I was like, Yes! You know what I mean? Stacey: Mm hmm (affirmative). (Coaching Conver sation #3) Julia showed me a mapped out version of the plan she and the instructional coach had discussed. On the plan, she paired different teachers and shared their strengths in teaching small group reading. She talked about pairing the stronger teachers with teachers who might benefit from more modeling of small group reading instruction. Julia : I asked [the instructional coach] and [the lead teacher] why our Title teachers are pulling kids into the Title rooms instead of pushing into classrooms and tea ching there, which would give us less transitions. I think there have been complaints about some of the teachers not doing what we expect during small group reading, so they pull the kids out to a different room so there is less accountability between all of the teachers. (Coaching Conversation #3) Julia continued to suggest shifting reading activities on the classroom map, explaining her strategy and possible consequences. Knowing the tea chers in her school, I was also aware of the problems she might encounter. Stacey: I know the teachers, especially the Title One teachers, are not going to like this. In the beginning, all buildings were instructed to do small group reading in a similar ma nner to what you are describing, but no one wanted to share classrooms. The former principal finally gave in with so me
64 not following district expectations of utilizing every minute efficiently. Julia : [The way other buildings are we actually have more transitions because they are walking down very long hallways to get between two of the sections every day. They take their time in the hallway and lose a lot of instruction time. Stacey: We teaching time to wal have to. Julia distractions and we can move the kids as a group to their next location and not lose as much in transitions either. (Coaching Conve rsation #3 ) As our coaching conversation continued, Julia emphasized how important it was to reading instruction to reduce distractions caused by the movement of studen ts between groups and activities and shared her concerns about moving teachers into one classroom to teach guided reading at the same time. She recognized that she needed to make the same decision for all teachers, meaning if she was going to move a classr small groups, she needed to do the same with all teachers in grade s 3 and 4 She accountabil ity and may not recognize that other teachers need more accountability for putting the needs of their students first. She also pointed out that some of the teachers might complain about the set up when she shared Title teacher] said that some teache rs are going to be upset if there are not three kidney shaped tables in the guided Coaching Conversation #3 ). After listening to Julia levels, I was able to understand her frustr ations and help her process through her situation. We talked about me visiting the building and observing the literacy
65 instructional block with Julia Our third coaching conversation concluded with the decision that I would visit Julia so we could observe and reflect together. Following my Thursday visit to the classrooms teaching the small group reading structure, Julia and I had our fourth coaching conversation. I agreed that Julia had reason to be concerned, kids running around instead of going to their reading groups, there were teachers on their phones when we entered the room Coaching Conversation #4 ) Julia was glad tha t I got to see some of the issues that she was seeing in her classrooms and suggested additional improvements: It would be good for us to put those two te achers together, because the third grade teacher will be good for the fourth grade teacher to work wi th. The fourth grade teacher needs to focus on a comprehension strategy during her lesson, and having another adult in the room that knows that will put a little bit of pressure to ensure that strateg y instruction happens every day. ( Julia Coaching Conver sation #4 ) I agreed with Julia stating that, I noticed the fourth teaching a comprehension strategy during our observation. I think it would be good for her to know that it is the expectation that during o ur reading block time, when you are teaching fluent readers that we are focusing on comprehension strategies so our students are being prepared to use those strategies to participate in discussions of important topi cs at other points in their day. (Stacey Coaching Conversation #4 ) Once we both agreed there would be positive outcomes from the proposed change of putting teachers in the same room to teach guided reading, we also acknowledged that there would be some teachers who are doing very well in the cur rent setting and could Julia mentioned one teacher
66 around the building together checking out reading today while the Tit le teacher was Julia Coaching Conversation #4 ). We agreed that we would wait until after spring break, and after state testing, before doing a trial period with the new struct ure, as we knew that it was already a stressful time of year for all teachers. We also agreed that Julia would communicate the changes out to her building. In this vignette, three principles were evident: choi ce, voice and reciprocity. Choice. Vignette 1 is an example of choice because Julia was able to state her Conversation #3). Throughout this vignette, Julia and I collaborated around the concept of helping Julia achieve her goal with small group reading. She and members of her building leadership team ent small group reading like other schools (Coaching Conversation #3). Julia recognized that her solution of moving one that pushes on this . so you sway Julia to resolve the problem my way. I recognized that Julia knew her building much better than I did, and that my job was to brainstorm and ask her clarifying
67 questions to help her better define her next steps and achieve her goal of improving her small group instruction time. teams must employ str uctures that move the collaborative work ahead efficiently while 7 9). In this vignette, Julia and I worked together to move the collaborative work forward when we decided that a good next step for us would be for me t o visit the building and observe small group reading in action. We agreed that this would allow me to see the concerns through Julia give Julia the opportunity to see the instruction through my lens and see if there were some construc tive things happening that she was missing due to her frustration. This is an example of choice as Julia and I agreed to this together. This was not something that was being forced on Julia and she could have stated that this would not be a step that she believed would move the work forward. Following our joint walk through the building during small group reading, Julia and I discussed what we saw and we agreed that changes in the structure were go i ng to their reading I listened to Julia based on my observations of the teachers. At the conclus ion of the vignette, Julia and I were discussing the best way to inform her teachers of the upcoming changes. I again Julia the option of taking less responsibility for the decision. I offered this because I wanted Julia t o be able to keep the social capital she had in her building. If this was something that was going to anger her teachers and
68 make them less likely to collaborate on other things later, I wanted Julia to have the option of blaming the decision on me and let ting her staff be angry with me and not her. At the conclusion of the vignette, however, Julia chose to take responsibility for the changes in her building. She wanted the teachers to know that this was a decision being made with students at the center rat her than a directive coming down from Central Office. Julia was evident in the coaching relationship. Voice. Vignette 1 is an example of voice because Julia was able to bring up he r concerns without fear of judgment from me. Knight (200 7 ) asserted that having voice in (p. 24). Unpacking this conversation showed that Julia felt comfortable expres sing an opinion she had about a problem she was experiencing at the building level : small group reading teacher s were not using every minute of instructional time to the fullest. Furthermore Knight (2011) stated that conversations that include voice shou ld ( p. 94). Julia showed that she was willing to have that open and candid conversation with me as we worked through her frustrations about the small group literacy bloc k. Julia solving a problem she recognized in her building and was not worried that I would turn the conversation and judge her due to the fact that something was not going well in her building. Knight (2011) summarized the importance of one to on e conversations that give teachers the opportunity to share their delights and their frustrations. This portion of
69 v ignette 1 is an example of voice in the coaching r elationship as I list ened to Julia concerns at the building level, giving her voice; I asked questions to keep us action focused, giving me voice, and then we decided together what next steps to take we joined voices. Finally, after Julia and I walked through her building d uring small group reading instruction, we sat down to discuss what we had seen. We both voiced our concerns, (Coaching Conversation #4). While I brought up the fact that not all teachers would be excited about the impending changes, I agreed with Julia that we were not seeing the push for quality instructional core that we might hope to see. Having this shared experience gave Julia and me the opportunity to reflect together in a collaborative manner. Aguilar (2013) asserted that establishing a coaching culture gave school staff ownership and responsibility for leading imp rovement efforts. Vignette 1 is an example of this happening as Julia used her voice to bring up the challenge she was facing, we looked at the challenge together by walking through the building together, and then we came to the conclusion together that a change was needed. Recipro city. Reci procity was also evident in v ignette 1 as we both gained knowledge from our shared experience with small group instruction in Julia W alking through the building together during small group reading helped me get a better picture of th e challenges that still exist ed for us with our small group reading instruction. Sometimes I can get very attached to what I think is happening in the buildings, but I have to be reminded about where our teachers truly are in their thinking and remember
70 th at it takes time to get some of our structures and processes to the place that I would like them to be. I find that my focus is often on upcoming tasks and what we need to do next. Having this conversation with Julia reminded me that there was still work t o be done to get our small group instruction to a place of integrity with the model. Having this conversation reminded me not to push too fast with our teachers. If I am not out in the building watching instruction, I can forget that our teachers still nee d support in areas Journal, p.5). Julia also gained from this conversation as it allowed her to see her small group reading model through my perspective. I was able to see small group reading instruction happening at all of our buildings across the district, and I could gi ve her feedback based on what I observed going well at other buildings. Julia noted the importance of our understand the importance of using every instructional minute of the day for engaging, purposeful instruction. I feel like the conversations that we have about instruction are always a stepping stone for what we need to do next. This helps me keep alignment between what we are currently doing and where we are going with Julia Final Interview, p. 4). 7 ) principles played out in this vignette. It is also important to think about the significance of using these principles to guide my work with the leaders in our buildi ngs. In the next section, I talk about the implications from this vignette.
71 Analysis of vignette 1 instructional coaching are applied to the work of a central office administrat or and principal, choice and voice are two principles that can work well in tandem. When Julia had choice in what we discussed, it was a natural fit for her to use her voice and express the concerns she had. In addition, r eciprocity can occur when the buil ding principal feels comfortable expressing concerns. As Julia voiced the challenges she was experiencing in her building during small group reading time I benefitted by gaining insight into the challenges that come with district driven initiatives some thing I can easily lose sight of when I am not in school buildings on a daily basis As I was the district office administrator who was instrumental in putting the reading program together in the manner that it was happening in Julia ential for me to see the challenges that Julia was experiencing with this model. In education, we often talk about written curriculum versus enacted curriculum. This process was very similar in that I had a written approach to the reading program or the th eory in mind, but what was happening in practice was different. I benefitted greatly from visiting Julia and seeing the way the program I had spearheaded for the district was being enacted in practice. Hence, f or central office administrators coaching model to leadership work with principals one important implication is that building visits to observe practice together are critical to analyzing and improving a problem. As a Central Office administrator it can sometimes feel like building leaders dread having you come into their building as typical visits are frequently done to give directives and/or to judge practice As a leadership coach, i t was important to me that
72 Julia view my presence in her bui lding as supporting her work not judging it. This was accomplished by allowing her to choose a problem to work on (small group instruction during reading block) and give voice to that problem in our coaching conversations. Having a shared experience thro ugh observations in her building created a space for us to collaboratively address the problem We learn from this vignette that w hen a Central Office administrator works with a building principal to resolve a problem of practice, it is extremely importan t that they share a level of respect and trust for one another. If I did not have a high level of respect for Julia I may not have seen this problem of practice as openly as I did. If Julia did not have a high level of trust in me, she may not have been w illing to share her problem of around the building with Julia and reflect on wh at we saw together. I think this builds our 7 ). In v ignette 1 Julia shared a frustration that she needed help processing and resolving In v ignette 2 the table turns and I reach out to Jul ia for assistance in clarifying my understanding about building needs and how to balance those with district professional learning offerings in math training Vignette 2: Learning from Insights and Perspectives on District Matters During our fourth coa ching conversation, Julia helped me process my thinking regarding math training that has been offered in our district for the past four years. W e have attempted to convince all K 3 math teachers in the district to use a Cognitively Guided Instruction (CGI) approach to teaching math (Carpenter, Fennema, Franke, Levi, & Empson, 1999). In Iowa, training was offered by our department of education
73 and the Teachers Development Group to certify trainers across the state in the CGI approach Julia and I both went through the certification training and have been trainers for the Iowa Department of Education, so we are both familiar with the CGI approach and expectations. CGI has a rigid professio nal development agenda that is expected to be followed when implementi ng these practices in school district s For the past four years, w e have offered training that precisely follow these agendas. Julia and I had previously worked with one of the trainers in the professional development program (Deanna) who prov ided feedbac k about the program. We agreed that our new teachers were coming out of college with a deeper understanding of teaching math conceptually as compared to our veteran teachers who left college twenty years ago. Because of this and her work with Melinda (pro fessional development math trainer) Deanna suggested that we make a break from classes that follow the rigid CGI framework and instead begin attending training that ties the CGI philosophy with the Iowa Core State Standards and offers teachers a deeper un derstanding of how to incorporate a CGI philosophy with in the Iowa Math S tandards. I started our conversation by referencing my recent conversation with her. I had lunch with [Deanna ] last week and she said she wanted to talk with me about CGI and her lo ng term plans with us for teaching CGI in our distri was feeling a little intim id ated She told me that Melinda has taken the CGI agendas and condensed them and given them more of an Iowa Co re flare. She asked if that was a more a ppropriate route for us to take. (Coaching Conversa tion #4 ) Julia and Deanna were colleagues in the same district a year ago, and Julia shared that Deanna was feeling some pressure from her principal regarding the t ime needed for training that took away fr om Deanna full time position Julia said
74 difficul t for her. She gets some pressure about being away from her full time position. (Coaching Conversation #4 ). Julia and I shared with each oth situation her two hour drive to the training site, which resulted in miss ed time in her own school and potentially deteriorating the relationship with her building principal. I had a possible solution but wanted Julia Reading. Could we move to this professional de vel opment lesson plan that Melinda is doing, t he one that is a modified version of CGI? Do you think the other principals would be okay with a modified version and Julia : I think we could totally do that. Stacey: I talked to Melinda for a while this morning. She is willing to have a couple of us from Fort Dodge and then Bobbi, who was the Iowa math teacher of the year about a year ago work together on modified agendas for our professional learning session s. This would allow us to Julia : Okay. could look like for us. Julia : What does it look like for her districts? What would it mean for our teachers? instead of to our own Area Education Agency (AEA). I talked to Becky (instructional coach) about this earlier to day and she thinks this would Natalie as our instructional coach math expert so I wanted to get her opinion. Julia : Yes, I think we move to the model that Melinda is offering and we step away from the rigid agen I think that would be better for all of our teachers. (Coaching Conversation #4)
75 I referenced a model that we have used to train in our small group reading ins truction where we have a consultant go to the school obser ve lessons, and then meet with teachers one on guided reading lessons and where their next steps for improvement might be. I said to Julia ng if we could get Melinda to come i n and help us with a math [professional development] Reading. I would love for our teachers to have someone from the outside watch their math instruction and give them some feedback so we can all lear Conversation #4). Julia agreed that it would be good to keep moving progressively with our math training and not get stuck in a model simply In v i gnette 2 three principles were evident: equality, reflection and reciprocity. Equality Vignette 2 is a n example of equality because Julia and I have both received the same training through our state department of education on CGI. We have both been thr ough the training and recognized the importance of keeping the fidelity of the model while at the same time meeting the needs of the participants (our teachers). Equality existed for us in this case because neither of us would be seen as an expert in this work over the other. Julia also showed equality as she offered her own insights and perspectives regarding a specific issue with one math trainer and our district moving to a newer model of professional development in mathematics. She shared with me her perceptions of the advantages and disadvantages of staying with the current model versus taking a more Iowa Core approach to our math training and she asked
76 Conversation, #4). Ju lia showed that she knew I was seeking her honest input and that I valued her and respected her knowledge of both the professional development system and the needs of our teachers. Reflection Vignette 2 is an example of reflection because the overall gi st of the conversation was Julia helping me think through an issue I was facing. I needed Julia help in deciding how we were going to offer professional learning in mathematics to our staff. I needed Julia to help me reflect on our current practices as w ell as look forward to see what could be better if we c hanged our current practices. It was also important for her to help me think about the potential unintended consequences if we changed our current practices. Julia was able to listen to my concerns, ta lk to me about what might be causing a feeling of unsteadiness with our trainer and offer her thoughts about moving forward. As Julia and I reflected on this idea about changing this professional development offering, we were able to talk about another m odel we are using for small group reading a similar model for our math professional learning. I asked Julia for Next Steps Guided Reading, do you think we can do a similar process with this? (Coaching Conversation #4). This gave us the oppor tunity to think as partners which gave us time and space to refle ct on the two issues at once This allowed us to make reflection a part of our own profess ional development (Knight, 2011). Reciprocity Vignette 2 is an example of reciprocity because according to Knight (2011), r eciprocity is approaching a conversation with humility as we see all
77 participants as learners who we can learn from. In v ignette 2 I approach ed Julia humbly to seek her advice and input as we moved forward with our math initiative. Furthermore, Knight (200 7 ) explained that in his instructional coaching model, teachers experienced reciprocity when their knowledge and experiences we re considered important and vali d In a similar fashion, I viewed Julia and I valued her input on this initiative. Vignette 2 to the building leader hop ing for buy in from the building leader Instead, it is an example of the central office administrator asking the building leader to give honest and open feedback about current successes and areas for improvement. Vignette 2 highlights the importance of b eing thinking partners as both Julia and I benefited from this conversation. T he decision about how teachers will be trained in CGI would greatly impact the instruction in Julia building Julia shared how she will benefit when she hou ld move (Coaching Conversation #4). When Julia shared how her teachers would value this work, it highlights how she will benefit from this work as this model would change our implementation of these math practice s in our building which assists Julia as she works to change instruction to better meet the needs of students. I benefited from this conversation as it gave me the opportunity to hear from the building level that, much like our approach to small group reading, we can take an improved approach to our math training to make it more targeted for our teachers and less time intensive for our trainers. Talking to Julia about my wonderings allowed me to ur trainers, teachers and students
78 Analysis of vignette 2 instructional coaching are applied to the work of a central office administrator and principal that equality, reflecti on and reciprocity are three princi ples that worked well together When Julia and I feel that we come to the table as equals, we are enabled to reflect together, and as a result, both benefit from our coaching conversation This helps us both build our l eadership capacity, a concept DuFour and Fullan (2013) note is a crucial component for supp o r ting leader s in moving from a system of compliance to commitment. As a central office administrator, I could have chosen to simply comply with the ways CGI traini ng is designed to be implemented. Instead, I sought out Julia input on how to make this work better for our district. Within the sequence of all coaching conversations, it may appear that this only benefited me as the district leader but Julia also expr essed benefiting from this conversation as she felt valued as a colleague by being included in the decision making process. Hence, one important implication for central office administrators who wish to to leade rship work with principals is that a central office administrator feels comfortable seeking input on district initiatives in the same way building principals seek input on building matters in a coaching relationship As a central office administrator, it c an often appear easier to do my work by simply do rather than involving them in the decision making and furthering their capacity. As a leadership coach it is important to set aside time for reflection to model for t he pri ncipals what you hope they will do. We learn from this vignette that central o ffice administrators must be willing to change their practices and devote time to working with principals side by side in their
79 buildings as they practice their leadership skills. Using reflection to look back on traditions and former practices, while consider ing the current reality and project ing a better future allows the principal and the central office administrator to understand each for the future that includes both the past and present. This will require central office administrators to devote time to hear perspectives from the building level rather than lay down directives. In v ignette 2 Julia and I engaged in a coaching conversat ion around a topic that we were both ve ry familiar with and ready to evaluate for return on investment In contrast, Vignette 3 illustrates how a coaching conversat ion can be use d to gain knowledge around a topic that neither the principal nor the c en tral o ffice administrator know much about The next vignette shows Julia and I engaging in learning together about a national project we were involved in to develop leadership practices in the area of family engagement. As we were learning about best practice s in family engagement for this project, the topic of family engagement made its way into our coaching conversations. Vignette 3: Developing Leadership Practices Together At the beginning of our second coaching conversation, Julia and I watched a webinar about family engagement as the foundation to our discussion After viewing the webinar we began our conversation with Julia sharing her concerns about not having all families represented in ou r curren t family engagement activities. We had a comprehensive family engagement assessment coming up and were excited to learn more about best practices. We knew that we were missing an important component with
80 Julia : I really want to do this work but I want to do it well and m ake sure all of the families at my school feel valued and welcome. group coming in but that might be the 20% of families they spoke about during the w ebinar who are already engaged. I think I hear you saying those are not the only f a milies that we need to bring in to conversations who might be currently disengaged. Julia : Exactly. (Coaching Conversation #2) In Julia nteered for school activities, but that left a large number of families who were not engaged. The webinar we watched provided ideas on how to increase parent participati on and engagement which was a good place to start. We knew there were many families fr om our district who were hesitant to interact with educators and administrators. This information led us to reflect on the current status of Julia Stacey: I listen to this webinar and I heard them talk about very good strat egies, we are at a stage that is a preface to that which would be getting the families to come to the table and begin having conversations with us to begin to trust the system. Julia . Harvard this summer in the family engagement course ery excited to learn more. Stacey: Me too. I feel like this is the next step for us . what this next step looks like in practice. Julia (Coaching Conversation #2) Julia and I would be taking a cours e at Harvard the following summer This course d to gain a lot mor e knowledge from the class to inform our vision and action plan. We discussed a grant that had been used in the past to target families who were not attending events at the
81 schools. The grant allowed us to provide incentives for the families to attend, but Julia noted the difference between providing incentives for families to participate versus the importance of creating events that are motivating in and of themselves, something we learned from the webinar Julia : So how can we make the learning a part of the incentive ? How can we create experiences that become the motivation to come rather than incentivizing the event? Stacey ninth grade with our Gear Up grant. We were talking about coming up with criteria and targeting a small number of families, kicking off the series of parent nights with a barbecu campus and then connecting one of us on that team with like ten with ten families and make sure they are being heard in our planning processes, make su re they are feeling connected to an adult at school, will be able to build off of something like that at [your school] ? Julia : Yes, that would be good. I just keep going back to my q uestions about issue too ways. (Coaching Conv ersation #2) We continued to reflect on and question our current interactions with families and how we might change current practice to promote family engagement. Stacey: I keep thinking about parent teacher conferences. I continue to wonder if ink creatively about that time we already have established to work with families. I wonder how we might revamp what happens with that time rather than us trying to create some thing completely new. We have sixteen hours devoted to parent conferences what m ight we do differently with those hours? Julia Stacey: The other piece I keep wondering about is the piece about having our comes back with our family engagement assessment results, they are going to talk to us about the stories that our walls tell. I know when I went to a presentation by them before, they really pushed having student work tied to
82 standards in the hallways of t being family engagement until I went to that presentation. Julia based learning with preschool in my last district, having student work displayed t hat was tied to standards was really, really emphasized. They really throughout the entire unit of study. year. Julia : I think that would be great. I hate when we have things t related hang ing in the hallway. (Coaching Conversation #2) Julia I want to get new pare nts involved in this wo Conversation #2). This was the beginning of a longer process for the two of us as we continued to have informal conversations to finalize plans for many initiatives related to family engageme nt. In this vignette, two principles were evident: praxis and reflection. Knight (2011) stated that reflection is central to praxis as you cannot apply a practice to your own work without first reflecting on the meaning of the content. Since reflection is such an integral part of praxis, they are discussed together. Praxis with Reflection. Vignette 3 is an example of praxis and reflection as Julia and I talked about and reflected on the current reality of f amily engagement in her building. According to Knight (2011), in order to have praxis you must first be honest with yourself about your current reality. Julia was honest when she reflected on the families she was currently reaching in her school through fa mily engagement practices
83 During the webinar that we viewed, the facilitators noted that often in school s only 20% of families show up t o volunteer at events. Julia those booster club families, she said they did not reflect her entire school community. She expressed wanting to change family engagement to attract families she felt she was not reaching. Another example of how we reflected on and confronted our current reality was shown when we questioned the timing of some of the practic es suggested on the webinar. We felt Julia is why we asked Scholastic to provide us some baseline data by completing a comprehensive family engagement assessment of Julia This w ould allow Julia family engagement strategies to become the way they do business in her school but very interested in taking what she learned through our participation in the national family engagement project and embedding the new knowledge into her bu ilding to create a welcoming environment for all. During this conversation, we also talked about some upcoming work that Julia and I would do later in the summer on the Harvard campus. We had been invited to take a course on family engagement to further ou r learning around evidence based family engagement strategies. This showed praxis because this course would provide us with
84 time to reflect on our current practice and deepen our understanding of the concept of family engagement to enhance our prac tices. I n addition to the ti me to reflect, this leadership coaching conversation shows praxis as our approach to family engagement changed because of this conversation. Julia more families represented and then engaging and she has done that (Coaching Conversation #2). Finally, this conversation also showed evidence of praxis when we reflected on how to take practices that we were already doing and align them more closely to our family engagement focus. We used this conversation as a time to plan for our baseline assessment to be scheduled so we could actually put our work to practice. We also anticipated some of the work that would be ahead for us. For example, we talked about our current structu revamp what happen s with that time rather than try to create some better align with the evidence based family engagement practices we were learning about (Coaching Conversatio n #2). In addition, we talked about the story that our buildings tell. W e discussed wanting our walls to tell our academic story. I described previous training I engaged in that helped me understand the importance of student work displayed in the hallways. Julia shared what was done in her previous district and work . that was tied to standards ation #2). Taking the time to reflect on these practices created a space to envision our family engagement work.
85 Analysis of vignette 3 instructional coaching are applied to the work of a central off ice administrator and principal that reflection precedes p raxis as it takes reflection to make praxis happen Because reflection is growth oriented it helps us to integrate unfamiliar information into our existing understandings and make sound decisions about how to m ove forward. In this vignette, the shared learning experience of watching a webinar on family engagement facilitated the coupling of reflection and praxis. Hence, one important im plication for central o ffice administrator s who wish to participation in a shared learning experience is crucial to the work. I reflected on the power of a common learning experience in my first reflective journ al when I stated, Julia and I were participating in learning around better family engagement strategies. We both recogniz ed that we could consider ourselv es in a conscious stage with family engagement meaning we are aware of the fact that we have much to learn For Julia and me sharing a common learning experience gave us some excitement in our work. said, start this work with Julia As a central office administrator, it can sometimes be daunting to keep up on all the learning that you need to do, but this and involving the principals in the learning shares the we ight of the learning with the staff.
86 We learn from this vignette that having a shared learning experience at the start of a coaching conversation helped Julia and me focus on p raxis which should be a critical outcome of all coaching conversations Having the chance to learn something together gav e Julia and me the opportunity eng agement in the past, what our current reality is and the possibilities for the future Given that we both felt like we have a lot to learn, the coaching conversation became a driver for building our capacity around this topic providing an exciting and em powering experience for us both In v ignette 3 Julia and I s hared the learning experience of viewing a webinar together Vignett e 4 offers a glimpse into another way for a principal and central office administrator to have a shared learning experience e n gaging in building walk arounds. Vignette 4 : Walk Arounds as Leadership Practices A frequent criticism in our district is that teachers feel like they do not get enough feedback from administrati on on a regular basis As we engaged in our coaching convers ations, Julia and I decided this was a criticism we would both like to address collaboratively by walk ing around her building together and look ing for points of promise followed by feedback letter s sent out to staff. One of our coaching conversations tran spired after our first building walk around. We began by reflecting on what we saw as we walked through the building. Stacey: What did you think? Julia d, when I think back to where we were a year ago, I think this is amazing. A year ago, kids were all over this building. You and your staff have come a
87 Julia : Let me tell you, having Brianna (success room interventionist) is a key piece of our success. That allows me to get out and focus on instruction ere helping with so many of the behaviors. Julia : I mean, I do intervene on things but the changes in this building are because I have her and she is able to help me by taking care of a lot of that stuff. (Coaching Conversation $6) Stacey: Yes, there i s definitely a whole different system of operation here. The Success Room Interventionist was hired to work with Julia in the role of behavior strategist. This position was created to allow Brianna to work with students who were unable to stay in the clas sroom due to behaviors or other issues they were facing. Brianna was able to work in tandem with Julia helping her address behavior issues in the classroom and around the school As we walked, Julia described how teachers in her building were still unsur e of what behavior would result in a student referral and how to handle student referrals in general I shared with her a strategy a principal I knew from another school uses when he returns a student to the classroom after disciplina ry action. This princ ipal ask s the teacher N Julia : At our [professional development] two weeks ago, there was a video c lip Stacey: In an feel like this is the missing piece . You are addressing how you want building. Julia : Yes, I really do believe if
88 Stacey: You expect that people in this building are nice. Your expectation of teaching social skills was very evident today, too. I also thought we saw a lot of positive feedback today as well. Last year, I would have heard quite a bit of negative, rude feedback when I was just walking through the hallways. Julia was walking down the hall the other day and she was ripping a kid in the hall So, at the end of the day, I just pulled her over and said, I appreciate that you notice that they were displaying negative behavior in our schools and I agree with you one hundred percent. However, when I started this year, the only strategy we used was to yell at kids. We are now moving away from that and I rarely ever hear that in our building anymore. I need you to teach our students the behavior you expect rather than yell at them. Stacey: We only heard an adult yell at a child one time in the two and half hours unsupervised by an adult. My first year in the district, there would have been an average of one student in every pod sitting in the hallway unsupervised. Julia We went on to talk about a specific teacher and what an asset he is in the building. We ta teacher. We then got to work writing our feedback letter to the staff. Julia se Julia : What if we highlight three areas and then we write three paragraphs that describe each of those areas that we saw? Stacey: Excellent. So, what would you say is something that really stood out to you? Julia : I would say that we are on the move with fidelity with small group instruction. Stacey: I would agree. One thing that really stood out to me was the amount of quality feedback our students are getting during small group instruction.
89 Julia : What else? Stacey: Something that stood out to me was the overall positive demeanor of the [teacher] standing in the hallway and making a positive com ment to Ariel [teacher] commenting about the great student behavior she was seeing, to Katherine [teacher] giving specific feedback on the specific task. Julia : Okay, overall positive demeanor of staff. What do you think about social skills? Could we say something about teaching social skills in an embedded fashion? Stacey: Yes, I think it will be good to highlight all the great things we saw through morning meetings today. That was impressive. (Coaching conversation #6) Julia typed the letter as she and I continued to give specific examples of characteristics we had seen in our visit that gave details to the three areas we were highlighting. Stacey: Could you say something about encouragement of teachers communicating that all students can achieve at hi gh levels? We could also mention how great it was to overhear positive comments they were making to each other as we walked in the hallways. have asked for feedback, we to every classroom and now we want you to hear about all the positive things we saw. Julia : I think they will appreciate that you were a part of writing this. You know what I mean? From a district level, you are someone who talks to the superintendent consistently and you are saying things are better in this building. I think they will appreciate that. Stacey: Yes, I get that. That makes sense. Julia achers. Stacey: I love that! (Coaching Conversation #6) When Julia finished typing the letter, we concluded our conversation by talking about how good we both felt writing such a positive letter to the staff. 4 In this vignette, three principles were evident: choice, voice and reflection.
90 Choice Vignette 4 is an example of choice because Julia had many opportunities to emphasize the parts of the school improvement plan that she wanted highlighted in the lette r that we wr ote collaboratively She chose what to highlight first to ensure we got her most important thoughts captured Julia was also able to ensure that we commented on the work her staff had done with embedding social skills into their day This was a new foc us for her building this year and s he wanted to make sure that we com plimented them on this practice Choice is necessary to make the principal feel valued with her ideas in school improvement and making a difference for her students. In this con versation, choice and voice were highly aligned as many of the components Julia chose to include in the letter also led to her using her voice about why those components were important. Voice Vignette 4 is an example of voice because Julia and I were ab le to voice our thoughts about what to include in the letter to her staff. We both needed to be open and honest about what we observed during the walk around so we could collaboratively write a letter that would help continue to establish trust with her s taff. Knight (2016) emphasized the importance of good listening skills to enhance voice during partnership conversations. During this coaching conversation, I was careful not to monopolize the conversation and allow myself to truly hear what Julia saw as t he accomplishments of her and her staff. N ear the end of o ur coaching conversation, Julia used her voice to remind me that she thought it was important for her staff to hear my voice as the central office administrator reflecting so many positive things. She reminded me that her staff did not get to see central office administrators often in their classrooms so it was important for
91 me to continue to provide feedback to them as often as I could to keep the district vision alive in the classrooms and buildi ng. This was feedback I needed to hear to help me continue to do work that is seen as supportive in the buildings. Reflection. Vignette 4 is an example of reflection because Knight (2011) stated that an instructional coach wanting to promote reflection s hould ask open ended Julia that exact question. This simple question unleashed a series of reflections on what was going well in Julia building as well as the ongoing journey of improvement. Reflecting together following our walk around the building helped us both broaden our perspectives as we engaged as thinking partners discussing how we could adapt school improvement strategies to better meet our goals. I was able to remin d Julia of the practices that had been occurring just one year ago to help her realize that much progress had been made in the building. She was able to show me some practices that were turning around in her building helping me gain perspective on how to move practice forward in other b uildings in the district In sum, r eflection played a critical role in this conversation as we were able to think about where we had been, where we were, and where we wanted to be. Analysis of vignette 4 In the analysis of v ignette 1 instructional coaching are applied to the work of a central office administrator and principal, choice and vo ice are two principles that worked well together In addition, the importance of reflec tion as a key school improvement strategy became app arent as I studied v ignette 4 and compared it to the others. be a powerful way to foster reflection by both members of the coaching
92 dyad as principal and cent ral office administrator share their perceptions of the building walk around they experience together. Having the common experience of walking around the school and observing current practices helped Julia and I reflect on the status of teaching and learni ng in her building. was a way for us to each share how we made sense of our observations Furthermore, deliberately focusing our building walk around experience on finding positive practices to reflect back to the teachers was critical to framing the building walk around in productive ways. Focus ing on what is going well in the building helps both principal and central office administrator build the trust and rapport with teachers necessary for school improvement ef forts to unfold. Hence, one important implication for central office administrators who wish to als is that building walk throughs and the subsequent reflection focused on not only what is not going well, but what is going well is essential to building trust and rapport between principal and central office administrator, as well as with teachers Engaging in walk arounds for the purpose of sending a feedback letter was a drive r for us to utilize the coaching principles in a very authentic manner and a catalyst to connect our coaching conversations directly to teachers I made note of th e ways this building walk around help ed to further establish a relationship of trust between Julia and I when I stated in my As a central office administrat or, sometimes I feel like Walking around
93 to them, rather than with them. We le arn from this vignette that in order for a central office administrator to take a leadership coaching approach with principals, it will be important to build in time to create opportunities for central office administrator and building principals to walk around together focused on a common goal that connects to teachers In this case, Julia and I had the common goal of constructing a feedback letter focused on positive practices that guided our walk and provided a subsequent debrief together. (200 7 ) principles could be seen throughout the 8 coaching conversations that Julia and I engaged in, dialogue was pervasive throughout all of the conversations. The next section talks about the importance of dialogue when engaging in leadership coaching c onversations. Dialogue: The Constant Principle Traditional top down conversations can fail to produce desired outcomes when members concentrate on avoiding conflict rather than speaking the truth (Knight, 2016). During dialogue, participants say what they think, even though they may be at odds with the other participant in the conversation (Knight, 2016). Knight (2016) furthers his definition of dialogue by explaining that people say what they think during dialogue but they do it in a way that encourages more open conversation. Dialogue means we use humility to have conversations that are learning centered rather than self centered (Knight, 2011). With dialogue, our ideas flow freely between each other sometimes losing sight of whose ideas are whose (Knig ht, 2011). As previously stated at the start of this chapter, a pplying K dialogue to coaching from the central office chair means that the central office
94 administrator and the building principal must be willing to create meaning togethe r by thinking together (Knight, 2016). Both must be willing to build shared understanding by examining assumptions that each may hold onto unconsciously (Knight, 2016). The central office administrator must be willing to be an equal partner in the conversa tion if true dialogue is going to emerge. Both participants must be free to speak their minds, which means creating an environment of trust where there will be no repercussions from the principal bringing up ideas that the central office administrator may not like (Knight, 200 7 ). Principals must be free to speak their opinions if we want to engage them in partnership coaching that involves dialogue (Knight, 200 7 ). However, both must be willing to enter the conversation with humility, recognizing that there answer to their inquiry, but instead you see the conversation as a testing ground for ideas (Knight, 2016). Dialogue was a constant part of my conversations with Julia and evident throughout all four vignettes. The following discussio n highlights the dialogue in each vignette. Vignette 1 In v ignette 1 I learned through dialogue with Julia that the small group reading program I helped implement was not working as well as it could in Julia Instead of discussing how to make i t work as implemented, Julia and I co nsidered alternative solutions and she finally decided moving teachers would be the best solution. Our dialogue allowed our ideas to flow freely between us helping us better comprehend the issues surrounding small read ing groups and the pos sible solutions (Knight, 2011). When we commit to dialogue we pledge to silence judgement, asking questions in lieu of telling (Knight, 201 6 ). Throughout this interaction in v ignette 1 Julia and I
95 worked together to discern what is going well for our students and what could be improved. In top down conversations, people can surrender to th e strongest voice (Knight, 2016 ). Sometimes I can naturally have a stronger voice giv en my role in the district. But in this conversation, Julia fe lt unrestricted to question practices in our small group rotations that she kn ew I had previously approved. We are respecting each Senge (1990) embraced the concept of di alogue in learning organizations as a means to being more insightful as an organization. Top down conversations often result in winners and losers (Knigh t, 2016 ). In v ignette 1 Julia and I put our students first and left our egos at the door. This allowed us to have genuine, meaningful dialogue regarding the management of the building that would allow us to learn together about what was working well and what needed to be improved upon to produce the best results for students. Vignette 2 In v ignette 2 I a pproached Julia and asked her t o give me her perspective on the math initiative we have in our elementary buildings. Wheatl ey (2002) reminds readers that dialogue is an exchange that provides a chance to meet together as peers, not as roles. Typically, wh en Julia and I would meet together, we remained in our traditional roles with me helping her think through school improvement practices that were occurring in her building. This vignette, by contrast, was an opportunity for Julia and me to work together as peers and for her to give me her perspective on what would work the best for her teachers as well as our district. Julia reinforced this in our final interview coaching experien ce. It always felt as though we were supporting each other to better
96 the culture and climate of East but then how can this be translated systemically across Julia Final Interview). Julia and I used dialogue to create a shared understanding of our current offerings with CGI. We were able to go back and forth with our conversation to talk follow up as well gue to reflect on practices in lieu of letting things stay the same According to Knight (200 7 ), people who engage in dialogue real ize that humility is a prerequisite for partnership work. Vignette 2 is an example of true partnership as I came to Julia seeking her input as opposed to me always asking her what she needs input on. This allowed me to show my humility as it explicitly sho ws that our roles do not dictate that one of us is smarter than the other but rather acknowledges that we choose to sit on different seats on the bus. Vignette 3 This vignette is an example of dialogue because Julia and I were learning as we watched a web inar together and then brainstormed ways our learning could impact our work. Julia and I had agreed that getting more families with diverse backgrounds involved in our schools is a problem of practice that we must investigate if our school system wants to improve results in achievement and the future of our community. The webinar create d a common experience of learning which led to our dialogue about family engagement In dialogue, the participants need to let go of the fact that there is only one right a nswer that you are seeking (Knight, 2011). There were many great ideas shared
97 through the webinar, but Julia and I immediately recognized that our school community was not prepared for the family engagement strategies discussed in the webinar Because of this, w e took a step back and instead talked about getting our families involved that are not currently involved. We also discussed doing a family engagement assessment because it would be important for us to have a baseline indicating where we started so we could celebrate small wins with our teachers when we begin this work. This was also an example of dialogue because it illustrates how Julia and I made meaning together. It is evident throughout the conversation that neither of us felt like we were the expert in this field. We both communicated throughout the conversation that we had much to learn about this topic. Through the webinar and our conversation, we can be observed thinking together to brainstorm about what to do next. Vignette 4 The last vig nette was an example of dialogue because Julia and I make meaning together throughout the conversation. As we shared our observations from a walk around in her buil ding, Julia and I discussed what was going well as well as the challenges she still faced. K night (2016) reminded readers that dialogue involves seeing the ideas of others as legitimate. Julia and I went back and forth with our dialogue as we reflected on the positive changes in her building over the course of the last year. During this conversa tion, Julia gave a lot of credit to the people in her building who have helped her accomplish her mission. While I recognized those people, I also pushed Julia a bit to remind her that she also played a key part in the positive changes in her building Tog ether, we made meaning about the changes that contributed to a more positive culture in the building, and we debated a few needed changes that might further our improvement strategy
98 Knight (2016) stated that one way to engage in dialogue is to use storie s as a way to connect our similar experiences or thinking as well as remind us of our humanity. We were able to do this during our conversation together. I shared a story about another building that was not as successful with teaching embedded social skill s, which prompted Julia to share a recent conversation she had with a new hire. We used a story to continue to build shared understanding about what was going well and created a theory about why things are better in her building. According to Knight (2016 ), dialogue must include advocacy and inquiry if the participants in the conversation are going to communicate to achieve mutual understanding. Julia and I repeatedly conversed back and forth to achieve mutual understanding throughout this conversation as we worked together to write the letter to her staff. We worked together to make sure we both gained some suc cess from the letter as well as identifying the successes of Julia Analysis of Dialogue When I first began this project, I had an idea in my head about what dialogue is and how important it would be to my study. In its simplest form, Knight (2011) describe d dialogue as the back and forth nature of a conversation that helps participants create shared understanding. I found during m y study that the back and forth nature of the conversation is the tip of the iceberg with regard to the complexity of dialogue. There is so much more to be learned about dialogue and through dialogue which made me realize that without dialogue the other p rinciples may be lacking true depth. I found that dialogue is truly the heart of the relationship I have with Julia It was through our dialogue that we were able to keep reflecting long after our conversations were over. Julia expressed this in her final
99 me with many questions, either rhetorically or authentically. I am always thinking when I am around her whether face to face, via email, via text message, phone call, Googl e Hangout or even FB messenger. She pushes me to new levels of thinking and is crucial when engaging in open dialogue and being willing to probe into conversation rsation by having a predetermined desired outcome. We learn from this analysis of dialogue that it is a critical principle in every coaching conversation and the complexity of this principle must be understood if any coaching partnership is going to work well. Dialogue is a principle that helps all the other principles work. If dialogue is not the heart of every coaching conversation, it is not likely that the coaching partnership will meet much success. Because of this, I would encourage a central office administrator to invest time learning about how to facilitate through dialogue so their engage ment in leadership coaching will be successful Summary I began this chapter by making a case for leadership coaching. I then reviewed 7 ) in structional coaching principles that were first introduced in Chapter 1 noting the ways each principle can be applied to the work of a central office administrator Next, I presented four coaching vignettes from my work with a building principal that was the focus of this study and finalized this chapter by discussing dialogue the constant principle that was evident across all vignettes and foundational to all coaching work. One implication associated with each vignette and one implication associated with dialogue, the constant principle, were shared in this chapter. The five implications
100 for practice that were derived from my construction and analysis of each coaching vignette can be summarized in the following way: For cen tral office administrators who wish to apply K n model to leadership work with principals . Vis i ting the school building to obse rve practice together is critical to analyzing and improving a problem (Vignette One) ; Central o ffice administrators benefit from seeking input on district initiatives in the same way building principals seek input on building matters in a coaching relationship (Vignette Two); Participation in a shared learning experience is crucial to the coaching work (Vignette Three) ; Building walk throughs and subsequent reflection focused on what is going well is essential to building trust and rapport between principal and central office administrator, as well as with teacher s ( Vignette Four); and Dialogue is t he critical principle in every coaching conversation. In the next and final chapter of this dissertation, I look across these implications and reflect on actions I have and will take as a central office administrator as I continue my coaching work.
101 CH APTER 3 REFLECTION AND ACTION The purpose of this study was to understand how I, as a central office administrator, can incorporate principles of instructional coaching into my work with a new principal in a high need, high poverty school as she w orks to build trust with the teachers in her building in an effort to help teachers develop an assets view o f the learners in her school. Leithwood and Jantzi (2008) recommend that district office personnel create conditions in which principals view centra l office as supportive of the work occurring in the building, rather than principals viewing their job as carrying out mandated work from the district. Kirt man and Fullan (2016) suggest that school leaders collaborate to create shared understandings and ca pacity within each other. In the teaching field, the impact of instructional coaches on teacher quality is showing great promise, and I wanted to use this as the basis for my work. For this reason, I used seven partnership principles for coaching teachers to guide my coaching and evaluate my work with a building principal. During the 2016 1 7 school year, I participated in eight coaching conversations with a new principal in our district. The following research question helped guide the study: In seven partnership principles for instructional coaching building principal? In order to conduct this study, I first recruited a principal who was new to our school district to work with me on a coaching cycle. It was important to me to work with a new principal because the research shows that 20% of first year principals leave their schools within the first or second year, creating a domino effect that can negatively
102 affect teaching and student achievement (Burkhauser et al, 2012). In addition, Hopkins Thompson (2000) reminds us that even the best new principals need support. It was important for me to think about how we can better support our princ ipals as they enter their positions in our district. Over an eight week period, data were collected in the form of audio recordings of produced during coaching conversa tions, and a final interview with the new principal. Once the data were (200 7 ) partnership principles to see what happens in the conversations and the relationship between a central office administrator and a new principal when the administrator uses a coaching approach to offer support to the principal. Once the data posters were created, I began to study the patterns that emerged from our work together, highlighting both what I learned abo ut the coaching principles themselves and how those patterns can inform my work as a central office administrator whose job is to support principals. I represented this learning in Chap ter 2 of this dissertation by presenting four separate coaching vignett es, analyz ing principles, and drawing implications from the vignettes for leadership coaching work between a central office administrator and a building principal. In addition, I discussed the ways one pr inciple, dialogue, was evident across all four coaching vignettes. The following f ive implications for c entral o ffice personnel who want to move from the traditional top d own approach to a coaching role were reported in Chapter 2 : Vis i ting the school buil ding to observe practice together is critical to analyzing and improving a problem;
103 Central office administrators benefit from seeking input on district initiatives in the same way building principals seek input on building matters in a coaching relationsh ip; Participation in a shared learning experience is crucial to the coaching work; Building walk throughs and subsequent reflection focused on what is going well is essential to buildin g trust and rapport between pri ncipal and central office administrator as well as with teachers; and Dialogue is the critical principle in every coaching conversation. In this chapter, I first review and further discuss each of these implications. Next, I look across all five implications and reflect on three overarching l essons learned from my coaching work with Julia and the actions I have taken and will take in my practice based on what I have learned from this study. This is a fitting way to end my dissertation as a student in the professional practice doctoral program at the U niversity of Florida because according to Andrews and Grogan (2005) and Archbald (2008), a practitioner and result in actions, not conclusions. My problem was moving my work as a central office administrator from telling principals what to do to helping principals build their own to my practice with principals. Implications: Review and Di scussion In this study, I demonstrated how 7 ) principles can be applied to a coaching relationship between a central office administrator and a principal, resulting in a stronger supportive relationship between the administrator and principal. This coaching relationship led to changes on the building and district level that can help teachers be more effective, resulting in improved student outcomes The ways in which
104 the principles play out also le d to implications for central office administr ators who want to move away from a directive stance and into a coaching stance The first implication from my study was that building visits in which we observe practice together are critical to analyzing and improving a problem. During the analysis of my data I noted that it was important for Julia to trust me and know that she can bring me in to help her solve a problem of practice even when it meant she was struggling with a n instructional model that I helped to create. Through the building visits and coaching conversations with Julia I realized that even when I believe instructional practices should closely in the context of the building classrooms and teachers Observing practices after t hey have been implemented allows us both to view any problem s of practice through a lens of improvement The second implication that came from my study was that the central office administrator must feel comfortable seeking input on district matters in si milar ways that the principal seeks input from teachers on building matters. During the analysis of my data I noted that it was important for me to gain insight from Julia on the math instructional practices that we use as well as the professional learni ng that is associated with these practices I realized that the theory behind new initiatives and how they play out in practice can often be quite different. Talking with Julia about her perspective on the math initiative helped me gain critical insights r egarding how best to implement a new initiative at the building level. This is important because the effectiveness of any initiative is dependent on how well it is implemented.
105 The third implication that came from my study was that participation in a shar ed learning experience is crucial to the work of coaching During the analysis of my data I noted that Julia and I shared multiple experiences that had a reciprocal relationship with the principles. The principles helped facilitate the coaching conversati on while the experiences gave a base for the principles to occur naturally. This happened when Julia and I were learning together as well as when we were observing practices together. Shared learning experiences also help produce building and district lea ders who work as a team to attain learning goals for their students. The fourth implication that came from my study was that building walk arounds and the reflecti ve dialogue that followed should focus on what is going well in addition to what could be imp roved This is essential for building trust and rapport between principals and central office administrators as well as with teachers. During the analysis of my data I noted that it was important for Julia and me to engage in walk arounds in her building for the purpose of seeking promising practices in action. This gave us the opportunity to give positive feedback to teachers who engaged in these promising practices and to give all teachers a simulated view of promising practices occurring in other classr ooms. The fifth implication that came from my study was that dialogue is at the foundation of effective coaching conversations. During the analysis of my data I noted that w ithout true dialogue which includes listening for meaning, being humble, and usi ng inquiry as a lens, coaching conversations could have been unproductive Coaching conversations with dialogue as the foundation require both parties to enter the conversation as partners in the work and not as roles in the organization. Having
106 dialogue a s the foundation also requires us to open ourselves up to new ideas and become aware of assumptions. Lessons Learned Across Implications When reflecting on all five implications reviewed in the previous section, I ascertained three lessons that cut across the implications a nd led to actions already taken as well as future plans for my practice. C entral office administrators should consider ways in which shared experiences can be used as starting points for coaching work C entral office administrators sho uld schedule time to work with the principals that he/she plans to engage in coaching. Central 7 ) principles to deepen their understanding of the use of those principles. In the next sectio ns, I expand on these three lessons and discuss action related to each. Shared Experience Implications 1, 3, and 4 were all related to shared experiences. Following the s p. 1). The coaching conversations seemed to flow very smoothly when Julia and I had a common experience in which to ground our conversation. As I noted in my journal, mon experiences help us to build a shared vision of what we want for our students 7 ). When we share a common experience, we come to the table at an equal point in our learning. This finding implies that it is ne cessary for me to create the opportunities for common experiences with the principals in my district.
107 One common experience that I found particularly helpful in the coaching experience is walking with the principal through the building where they work. The common experience I had with Julia when walking through her building enabled me to form a picture of her challenges and successes and helped me gain empathy for the opportunity to walk around the building with Julia and reflect on what we saw together. I think this builds our relationship . as we build our shared understandings about quality instruction. one allows us to reflect on our daily practices. Knight (200 7 ) states that the teaching 33 ) In my study, I had the opportunity to le arn about Julia building, which would be concerns, and see instructional practices in action. When sitting in a chair in the central office, administrators often wonder why p buildings but walking through Julia Essentially we lose empathy for the everyday roadblocks that can occur through teach er anxiety to try new practices a fight on the play ground that causes you to miss an instructional conversation with a teacher, a parent phone call that side tracks you, or a thousand other daily occurrences that need immediate attention. Walking through Julia he challenges that she faces with this particular situation but also opens the door for future conversations about strengths and areas of w eakness
108 Having a shared experience observing small group reading in her building gave Julia and me some common groun d around which to center our conversation. Knight (2014) promoted videotaping classrooms in order for teachers and coaches to watch instruction together and engage in conversations that push practice. This was similar to what Julia and I were able to do wh en we walked around her building observing small group reading, as it allowed us to have the same experience as we engaged in the conversation. Because we had seen the same classrooms, we were able to create a shared understanding of what was going well an d what could be improved While Julia and I agreed on what we saw, this could be an opportunity for practice when a principal and a central office administrator disagreed about strengths and weaknesses. Disagreeing and having an open conversation about bel iefs could bring seven principles, creating conditions necessary for transformative change in buildings. Because I learned through my study that a shared experience is a crucial component to leadership coaching, in my current practice I continue to create common experiences for Julia and me as well as with other principals. First, I have scheduled building visits three times a year with all building principals to do walk arounds and then engage in a reflective process where we can provi de feedback to the staff. In our district we are seeing an influx of students who speak English as a Second Language I am asking principals to attend the Iowa Culture and Language Conference with me so we can learn together about suppor ting our English L which will be another common experience In addition, we will visit a local school district that has successfully implemented practices with ELs. This will give us the opportunity to learn
109 together from the other school and reflect on our ow n vision for the future of our school s and our new students and families. In addition, Julia and I continue to work together on family engagement strategies. We attended a conference together in October where we sat on a panel to discuss the family engagem ent assessment we gave as well as how that informs our work. Finally, during district wide elementary instructional coach and administration meetings, we are beginning our meetings with a walk around of the building followed by a q uick collaborative reflec tion, with all coaches and administration to help support our elementary schools in our continuing efforts to build shared understanding of quality instructional practices across all sites. It was crucial for me to recognize the importance of developing and continuing shared experiences with my building principal s This required that I make this work a high priority which resulted in the reallocation of the time that I spend at school s The following section highlights the importance of setting aside th e time to do this work. Importance of Time Set Aside The implications noted throughout C hapter 2 require time for the principal and the central office administrator to work together without a lot of distractions. Without creating time in your schedule to have coaching conversations similar to those in this study, you could potentially miss opportunities to work with building principals and help them meet educational goals in their buildings. Three of the vignettes highlighted in this study note the importa nce of devoting time to the work of leadership coaching. When assisting a building principal on a problem of practice, you will both need to devote time to study the problem and reflect on your vision for a better future. In addition, if you are going to w ork side by side with a principal, you are going to have to devote time to being in the building with the principal to work in their building. This is not something that you
110 can do via email or phone calls from the central administration building. Finally, when looking to give feedback to teachers on current practices in teaching and learning, you have to devote time to walk around the building to see the practices that are actually taking place. Joyce and Showers (2002) studied the need for multiple oppor tunities for teachers to engage in new practices, allowing them to apply new knowledge centered on their work. Those multiple opportunities need to be spread out over time. Without considering the time commitment that this entails, leadership coaching coul d be set aside as other issues of importance arise and a district might make assumptions about the work not benefitting anyone when, in reality, it may be that the work never got done. Significant amounts of time are needed to develop and refine dialogue and reflection, both noted as important principles during this study. In his book, Better Conversations Knight (2016) makes the case that improving our conversations through listening and dialogue takes a time commitment for both learning to listen well a nd learning to engage in true dialogue. Reflection is another principle that takes considerable time especially when engaging in reflection to improve practice. Hall and Simeral (201 7 ) make the case that embedding effective reflection into our work is a bout quality and not quantity, and to achieve excellence, we must make time for reflection. They continue to make the case that deep reflection will be what sets apart the mediocre from the excellent but time must be set aside to engage in reflection Fin ally, learning together will take a serious time commitment on the part of the leadership coach and the coachee. Julia and I were able to make this work because we
111 are both very committed to our work and improving our practice. Because of this, some of our coaching conversations were done on Sunday afternoons. This is a time that would not work for all partnerships, but a commitment must be made to set time aside for the purpose of establishing and refining coaching partnerships that will improve outcomes f or students, teachers, and schools. Because I learned thro ugh my study that time is a crucial component to leadership coaching, in my current practice I continue to prioritize my time in order to utilize the coaching principles that significantly enhanced my coaching relat ionship with Julia As a result, I have had to think critically about all of my tasks and determine whether or not they required a central office administrator or if some tasks could be handed over to my administrative assistant. While I a m still struggling to set aside enough time to spend with every administrator, I am happy to report that as a result of this study, I have made a commitment to spending a minimum of a half day in the building of another principal who is new to our district and I have been working to apply the partnership principles I learned about through an analysis of my work with Julia to leadership coaching work with him This has allowed me to give him the support he needs, but I also set aside time to visit other bui ldings and have shared experiences with all principals even though they are not new to the district although on small er levels. I will continue to scrutinize how my time is spent and strive to find more time to engage in the important work of leadership coaching. The Importance of Using and Studying the Principles I learned through analyzing each coaching vignette I presented in Chapter 2 and reflecting on the implications derived from them that t he partnership principles will not occur by accident. It is important for the coach to be aware of using the principles and
112 recognizing that coaches can by coming to the conversations from an asset based perspective, increase the likel ihood of building principals engaging in honest and open dialogue (Carlisle & B ereb itsky, 2011). seven principles during conversations, even when Julia coaching conversations. Knight (200 7 ) reminds coaches that they are peop le who have a lot of valuable information, but inadvertently, their actions may cause others to resist their ideas. This is important to me as it reminds me of the importance of my day to day interactions with the principals who serve in my district. I ca n be very task oriented, by the seven principles of coaching causes me to slow down in my daily interactions and take the time to have better conversations with the pri ncipals that I work with. I made note of this following my third conversation with Julia when I wrote, Julia and I to talk about and work with. I like that ce to her in her work 7 ) reminds readers that reciprocity is believing that every learning experience we create provides a stop when we are having informal, quick conversations as we pass each other in the hall or grab one another after a meeting. The implication for central office administrators using coaching conversations is that the coaching does not stop with the formal conversation. Administrators may need to be more aware of how they communicate in notes, emails,
113 text messages, and quick phone calls. The seven principles need to be embedded in all communication with building principals. Because I learned through my st udy that a learning and understanding the principles are crucial components to leadership coaching, in my current practice I conti nue to deepen my understanding of 7 ) coaching principles. I am finding that dialogue and reflection are the two p rinciples that I currently feel I ha ve the most potential for growth. I continue to dig deeper with the concept of dialogue and push myself to use dialogue more with every conversation I have with any of my colleagues. I am reminding myself to come to all conversations with humility and as a question asker rather than an answer giver. In my role, I am often brought in to give my opinion. When I simply give an opinion and ride off to help solve the next issue, I take the power away from our staff. I also rei nforce the idea room before I stepped in. I am working hard to ask more questions and help my staff answer more questions based on the vision we have set for our district. I am also continuing to learn about reflection and th e critical piece that reflection plays when you are working toward a culture of continuous improvement. With my coaching team, I am currently reading a text by Pete Hall to push our shared understanding about the importance of reflection in a district that embraces action research as the main mode for professional development. In this section, I highlighted the specific ways my study continues to inform my day to day practice. I end this dissertation by discussing the need for further research focusing on central office administrators who want to do leadership coaching.
114 Conclusion The role of the principal carries a heavy weight as they are expected to be both managers of their buildings and instructional leaders. The principal is second only to the classr oom teacher in terms of impact on student learning. Therefore, building the capacity of the principal should be a key school improvement strategy from the district level. Instructional coaching as a job embedded form of professional development has shown g reat promise for building the capacity of teachers and is a promising strategy for developing principals. In this study, I found that there are moves the central office administrator can make if he or she wants toward a model of building capacity with the principal as they support teacher growth and away from being a top down director. In order to do this work it is important for the central office administrator to set aside specific time to engage in this work. First, the central office administrator needs time to engage shared experiences with the principal both in learning opportunities and in walking around the building together. Second, the central office administrator needs time for continued learning around the seven coaching principles as well as tim e to self reflect on your own practice. Further Research This dissertation illuminated the wa ys leadership coaching between one central office administrator and a coaching principles as a guide. While this study may be useful to other central office administrators who wish to venture into leadership coaching as some of the practices illuminated in this stu dy may be transferable to other s, t here is still much research to be done on coaching betwe en a central office administrator and a building principal. Two
115 areas that I believe require further research are (1) what this coaching might look like ator and the building pri ncipal and (2) what specific actions taken by the central office administrator can be considered high leverage practices when engaging in leadership coaching. The first area of future research would help central office administrators (and others) determi ne how to build a relationship with principals before or during the coaching conversations. My relationship with Julia was grounded in work we did together in various capacities prior to this study If we did not have that foundation, the coaching relation ship would have been very different, so it may be important to better understand what coaching would look like when a pre existing relationship is absent. I am currently investigating this component of leadership coaching in the work I have started with a second principal new to our district. I did not have a prior relationship with this principal and our coaching work together looks and feels different. I will continue to study how to build a relationship from scratch and the role relationship building p lays in the depth of leadership coaching that can take place between a central office administrator and principal. The second area of future research would help clarify more specifically the relationship between principal leadership coaching, teacher pract ice, and student achievement. I wonder which practices I employed as a leadership coach had the high est level of impact with Julia and which practices can be tied to higher trends of student achievement at the building level. This study was not of suffici ent length to make these connections. As I continue my work as a practitioner scholar, my future
116 research will look to determine impact of coaching not only on the principal, but on the teachers and students the principal leads.
117 APPENDIX RESEARCH POSITI ONALITY STATEMENT I come to this study following many years of education coursework. I began my education journey studying the field of special education and wanting to be an advocate for students with behavior disorders. After a few years of teaching both special education and general education, I decided to return to college to further my career to lifelong learning bug and decided to pursue an administration degree that allowed me to serve as a building level administrator, an English Language Learner endorsement, and most recently an administration degree that allows me to serve at the level of superintendent in Iowa. I should note that every time I pursue d another deg ree or endorsement it has always been through the lens of advocacy. I have always been looking for the platform that allows me to use my voice of advocacy for something greater than myself. I came to my present position also through the lens of advocacy. I have served in many education roles throughout my career including special education teacher, general education teacher, consultant for an intermediate agency, school based teacher leader, assistant principal, and principal which led me to my K 12 dire ctor of education services position. Every position I have accepted in the field of education has been to find a new voice of advocacy for students who I have felt are invisible in the schools I have worked within. I have always seen myself as a champion f or those who otherwise may not have a supporter in the system. I come to this study with some beliefs and assumptions about the work I am doing. First, I believe that all kids can learn at high levels and deserve to be in a school
118 system that lifts everyo ne up rather than lifting some up at the expense of others. Second, I believe it is the responsibility of everyone working in the school system to provide a quality education to all students as I see learning as an inalienable human right. Third, I believe there are certain teaching practices that work better than others and I believe we should push ourselves to provide the best experiences for all our students every day they walk through our doors. Finally, I believe there are marginalized students in our system who have not yet received the best care and experiences in our schools and that this must change. These assumptions and beliefs influence my work in many ways. In my position, I am in one of the key positions that sets the vision for our district. The responsibility of setting a tone of high expectations for all while providing support for those who need it is not one I take lightly. I understand that my actions are constantly being watched and criticized or followed. I must remember each and every day to promote our vision and to model the behaviors that I expect to see in classrooms. I have come to this understanding by following many scholars in the field of education but some have influenced my work more than others. First, I have to mention Lin da Levi who is a leading researcher for the work of Cognitively Guided Instruction across the United States. Her work in this area has helped me understand a great deal about the pedagogy in math but more importantly how quality professional learning suppo rts pedagogy and content together. Second, I have come to recognize the importance of being a systems thinker by following the work of Michael Fullan. He has helped me to understand that every decision impacts every person from the superintendent to the pr incipals to the custodial staff to the students and community. I
119 when our work is actually making an impact and the importance of high leverage practices. He has helped me think about transparency with our impact and our occurs either way. Anthony Muhammad has been another scholar whose work has greatly influenced my thinking. Dr. Muhamma leadership continue to push my thinking every day. Finally, I would be remiss not to mention the work of Rick DuFour. Mr. DuFour has helped me to see the importance of using my systems thinking to develop a syste m that truly develops capacity in all staff to push past status quo and offer great experiences to all students. It should be of no surprise given the scholars that I follow that I believe in building the capacity of all staff and that teacher leadershi p is of great importance to me. In the state of Iowa we are fortunate to have a systemic teacher leadership system called the Teacher Leader and Compensation (TLC) System. This system has allowed us to create many pathways for one quarter of our staff to s tep up into leadership positions without leaving the teacher role. I played a key part in the attainment of the first grant that allowed us to begin this program in our schools. The TLC system allows us to build capacity with more staff building a bridge between the research our administrators study and the practice of our teaching staff. The TLC system has also allowed our district to hire 13 teacher leaders in the role of instructional coach. I work very closely with our instructional coaches and have h ad the good fortune to attend training with them sponsored by the New Teacher Center. It has been through my work with this team that I have become increasingly interested in the power of a
120 model that includes instructional coaching at the heart of school improvement. Working with this team and recognizing the importance of the principal in this work has generat ed a strong interest in my role, operating more like an instructional coach and less like a director as the instructional coach model is more well m atched to the scholars in the field that guide my thinking.
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127 BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH Stacey Cole graduated from Buena Vista Univer sity in 1996 with her Bachelor of Science in s pecial e ducation with an e mphasis on b ehavior disorders K 12 and elementary education. She earned her m chool l eadership from Southwest Minnesota Stat e University in 2005. She received an endorsement f or school administration in 2008 and an endorsement for English Language Learners in 2010 from Morningside College. In 2013, she earned a Ce rtificate of Advanced Studies giving her Superintendent Licensure from Iowa State University i n the same year Stacey earned her Doctor of Education in curriculum and instruction from the University of Florida in 201 7 Stacey began her teaching career in the Schaller Crestland school district in Iowa where she taught high school special education classes and coached volleyball for one year. She went on to teach elementary special education classes in Storm Lake, Iowa for the following two years. After tha t she became a fourth grade teacher in Storm Lake, Iowa for six years. She went on to be a school improvement consultant with Prairie Lakes Area Education Association in the area of mathematics for two years. She returned to the Storm Lake school distric t to take an elementary intervention position for one year followed by an assistant principal job for three years. She then went on to take a head principal and curriculum director position for the Alta Aurelia school district in Iowa for two years. She th en became the director of education services for the Fort Dodge, Iowa school district. Her interests include equity in education, inquiry education in literacy and mathematics, and civic engagement. Stacey resides in Storm Lake, Iowa where she and her hu sband Chris have raised their two children.