Implementing a Peer Coaching Model to Facilitate Student-Centered Learning

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Implementing a Peer Coaching Model to Facilitate Student-Centered Learning
Duffy, Corinne
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[Gainesville, Fla.]
University of Florida
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Doctorate ( Ed.D.)
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University of Florida
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Curriculum and Instruction
Teaching and Learning
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education -- elementary -- peer-coaching -- student-centered
Teaching and Learning -- Dissertations, Academic -- UF
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Curriculum and Instruction thesis, Ed.D.


As funds are repeatedly reduced for education budgets across the country, the student population in American schools is consistently growing more diverse, representing a wider range of needs to be met within classrooms. Student-centered learning is one instructional method that can be utilized to meet the individual learning profiles of the changing needs in the American student body. Through opportunities to engage with curriculum and activities responsive to the students within their classroom, teachers can cultivate more equitable learning experiences for the diverse populations of students they teach. This exploratory qualitative study, conducted in a northwest Chicago suburban school, examined how the implementation of a peer coaching model could work to facilitate student-centered learning within an elementary classroom. During the 2016-2017 school year, peer coaching was introduced into a fourth grade classroom to support students interest-based inquiry projects. Students recorded their peer coaching sessions and reflected on their perception of the impact peer coaching had on their overall learning experience. This study also documented the process of implementing a peer coaching model within an elementary classroom. Data analysis showed that effective peer coaching requires attention to the scheduling, frequency, and duration of meetings when establishing a coaching routine as well as thoughtful consideration as to how coaching partnerships are formed. Additionally, coaching conversations and student reflection indicated that students perceived peer coaching as most effective when coaches asked targeted questions about their work and provided detailed, honest feedback about next steps or how to improve. The results of this study emphasize the potential impact on learning peer coaching can have within an elementary setting when classroom practices become student-centered. Further, the data suggest that elementary students may benefit from more consistent opportunities to work collaboratively to make meaning of new information and to help guide one anothers learning. ( en )
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Thesis (Ed.D.)--University of Florida, 2018.
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by Corinne Duffy.

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2018 Corinne Duffy


To my brother Phil, who has taught me that we are never too old to learn, to grow, to change, to follow our dreams, or to create new ones.


4 ACKNOWLEDGMENTS First, I thank my family for their love and encouragement as I have worked toward this degree. To my mother Annette, my brother Phil, and my sister Karyn, who have offered constant words of affirmation, and to my new husband Patrick, who was patient enough to allow me the time and space needed to pursue my educationa l aspirations as we grew together in our relationship. I also thank my advisor, Dr. Vicki Vescio, for her guidance and perspective through this journey. You have helped me in so many ways, from clarifying my confusion w hen I was lost in a sea of data to establishing my love for scholarly research beyond the classroom, but most importantly, it was you who truly helped me to understand that we can be advocates for change and social equity in any setting. Thanks to my doctoral committee, Dr. Elizabeth Bond y, Dr. Nancy Waldron, and Dr. Sevan Terzian for your feedback and support. To the CTTE faculty, I thank you for venturing to bring forth a program for doctoral education that speaks to pressing issues in our classrooms and designing curriculum to foster the conversations that have changed my life. I would also like to thank Cohort Three for their trust and sincerity as we embarked on this adventure with one another. Our dialogue both challenged and inspired me to become a better teacher, a better friend a better family member, and a better person. Extra special thanks to the Core Four, who grew to become the Sassy Six Shari, Liz, Stacey, Jen and Suzanne. You social justice sisters. Our dail y chats have driven me to continue forward over the last few years. Your courage of conviction for the communities you serve are a beacon of light in this world. Shine on! I thank my colleagues for your tireless checking in on my progress and growth in the CTTE program. I thank Carol Nelms, my teaching partner and self


5 ula Sullivan thank you for the endless praises about how proud you are, and to Terri Warren, thank you for your love and care. Last, but not least, I would like to thank the students and families that I have worked with over the past eleven years. It has been an honor to teach you, to learn from you, to grow with you. You reaffirm my decision to become an educator each and every day.


6 TABLE OF CONTENTS page ACKNOWLEDGMENTS ................................ ................................ ................................ ............... 4 LIST OF TABLES ................................ ................................ ................................ ........................... 8 LIST OF FIGURES ................................ ................................ ................................ ......................... 9 ABSTRACT ................................ ................................ ................................ ................................ ... 10 CHAPTER 1 INTRODUCTI ON TO THE STUDY ................................ ................................ ..................... 12 Rationale ................................ ................................ ................................ ................................ 13 Relevant Literature ................................ ................................ ................................ ................. 14 A Framework for Peer Coaching ................................ ................................ ............................ 17 Background ................................ ................................ ................................ ............................. 21 Purpose of the Study and Research Question ................................ ................................ ......... 22 Significance of the Study ................................ ................................ ................................ ........ 22 Research Methods ................................ ................................ ................................ ................... 24 Context ................................ ................................ ................................ ............................ 25 Participants ................................ ................................ ................................ ...................... 26 Data Collection ................................ ................................ ................................ ................ 27 Data Analysis ................................ ................................ ................................ ................... 30 Researcher Positionality and Trustworthiness ................................ ................................ 32 Summary ................................ ................................ ................................ ................................ 33 2 FINDINGS ................................ ................................ ................................ .............................. 35 Establishing a Routine ................................ ................................ ................................ ............ 37 Scheduling ................................ ................................ ................................ ....................... 37 Frequency ................................ ................................ ................................ ........................ 39 Duration ................................ ................................ ................................ ........................... 41 Developing the Coaching Partnership ................................ ................................ .................... 43 Defining Peer Coaching ................................ ................................ ................................ .. 43 ................................ ................................ .......................... 46 Practi ces of Effective Coaches: The Coaching Conversation ................................ ................ 49 Conclusion ................................ ................................ ................................ .............................. 57 3 DISCUSSION ................................ ................................ ................................ ......................... 59 Contributions to the Literature ................................ ................................ ................................ 60 Students Perceive That Peer Coaching Supports Student Learning ................................ 61 Peer Coaching Requires Flexibility ................................ ................................ ................. 62 Peer Coaching May Call for Explicit Instruction on Questioning and Feedback ........... 64


7 Implications for Practice ................................ ................................ ................................ ......... 65 Implications for Teachers ................................ ................................ ................................ 65 Im plications for Administrators ................................ ................................ ...................... 67 Next Steps ................................ ................................ ................................ ............................... 68 Building Peer Coaching into the Daily Routine ................................ .............................. 68 Facilitating a Teacher Inquiry Group ................................ ................................ .............. 69 Conclusion ................................ ................................ ................................ .............................. 69 APPENDIX A SAMPLE OF RESEARCHER JOURNAL ................................ ................................ ............ 71 B PRE QUESTIONNAIRE ................................ ................................ ................................ ....... 74 C REFLEC TIVE EXIT SLIP ................................ ................................ ................................ ..... 76 D POST QUESTIONNAIRE ................................ ................................ ................................ ..... 77 E EXCERPTS OF CODING ................................ ................................ ................................ ...... 79 F SAMPLE VIDEO TRANSCRIPTION ................................ ................................ ................... 81 G SAMPLES OF VIDEO TRANSCRIPTION ANALYSIS ................................ ..................... 84 H PEER COACHING FEEDBACK FORM ................................ ................................ .............. 85 LIST OF REFERENCES ................................ ................................ ................................ ............... 87 BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH ................................ ................................ ................................ ......... 90


8 LIST OF TABLES Table page 2 1 Frequency of coaching sessions and duration of sample sessions by coaching team ............ 41 2 2 Student pre and post questionnaire definitions of peer coaching ................................ ......... 44 2 3 Coaching partnership pairing method and student suggestions for pairing method ............... 47


9 LIST OF FIGURES Figure page 2 1 Student perception of the impact of peer coaching on learning. ................................ ............ 37 2 2 Instances of coaching f eedback by type ................................ ................................ ................. 52


10 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 IMPLEMENTING A PEER COACHING MODEL TO FACILITATE STUDENT CENTERED LEARNING By Corinne Duffy May 2018 Chair: Vicki Vescio Major: Curriculum and Instruction As funds are repeatedly reduced for education budgets across the country, the student population in American schools is consistently growing more diverse, representing a wider range of needs to be met within classrooms. Student centered learning is one instructional method that can be utilized to meet the individual learning profiles of the changing needs in the American student body. Through opportunities to engage with curriculum and activities responsive to the students within their classroom, teachers can cultivate more equi table learning experiences for the diverse populations of students they teach. This exploratory qualitative study, conducted in a northwest Chicago suburban school, examined how the implementation of a peer coaching model could work to facilitate student centered learning within an elementary classroom. During the 2016 2017 school year, peer based inquiry projects. Students recorded their peer coaching sessions and reflec ted on their perception of the impact peer coaching had on their overall learning experience. This study also document ed the process of implementing a peer coaching model within an elementary classroom. Data analysis showed that effective peer coaching r equires attention to the scheduling, frequency, and duration of meetings when establishing a coaching routine as well as thoughtful


11 consideration as to how coaching partnerships are formed. Additionally, coaching conversations and student reflection indic ated that students perceived peer coaching as most effective when coaches asked targeted questions about their work and provided detailed, honest feedback about next steps or how to improve. The results of this study emphasize the potential impact on learning peer coaching can have within an elementary setting when classroom practices become student centered. Further, the data suggest that elementary students may benefit from more consistent opportunities to work collaboratively to make meaning of


12 CHAPTER 1 INTRODUCTION TO THE STUDY In the current state of education, the demand on the general education classroom teacher to create equitable learning experiences has increased significantly As schools are forced to reduce the number of instructional support staff and resources as the result of dwindling funds, differentiation within the general education classroom has become a necessity in order to meet the needs of diverse student populatio ns. Further compounding the challenges of budgets and schooling is the ever evolving drive to create a workforce of young citizens that can compete with the changing demands of the global marketplace (Darling Hammond, 2010). The United States educational system is not keeping up with the evolution of the technology driven, information based society students live within (Watson, 2011). As a result, educators are further charged with the task of cultivating responsive teaching and learning experiences that attend to the interests of our students as well as the constantly changing conditions in society. One way in which teachers can encourage a customized fit for education within their classrooms is through student centered learning, which is defined for th e purpose of this study as the instructional methods and activities used to meet the unique learning profiles of individual students based on background, interest, goals, and needs ( The Glossary for Education Reform 2014). Through allowing students to en gage in curriculum and instruction that is designed specifically for them, educators can begin to provide more equity in the opportunities for the diverse populations of students we teach. In the next sections of this chapter, I will further outline why a shift toward student centered teaching and learning holds potential as well as how student centered learning is implemented as a part of my district curriculum. Through a review of the relevant literature, I will examine student centered practices within the context of constructivist learning theory and


13 present a framework for peer coaching. Finally, I will detail the wonderings that guided my study and describe my process for data collection and analysis. Rationale For decades, accountability measures, suc h as No Child Left Behind, have demanded the focus of educational differentiation be on remediation, rather than on opportunities for individualization and enrichment that may encourage student potential (Cross & Cross, 2005) As a result, th e American school system remains heavily grounded in the reform movements of the industrial age treating students uniformly, standardizing learning, and enforcing strict, inflexible requirements in a pass/fail system. High stakes testing and accountability have p laced an excessive focus on test scores, pulling the emphasis away from the students and how to best implement high a cademic standards and authentically increase achievement Rather than targeting instructional measures and pedagogy to foster growth, the t hreat of punitive consequences for failure to meet targeted federal evaluative measures have stifled possibilities within the classroom and taken the bigger picture of s tudent ability, personal growth, and interest out of the heart of education (McCombs, 2 001). student potential is typically not considered especially once students have been labeled because they need additional support. Too often, s tudents labeled as minority, learning disabled, low socio economic status, and/or linguistically diverse English language learners, are also categorized as their perceived deficits and/or lack of basic skills take preced ence over their potential (Cr epeau Hobson & Bianco, 2011; Shaunessy, McHatton, Hughes, Brice & Ratliff, 2007 ). As a result, at risk students who also have a high ability or potential in other areas are routinely overlooked and excluded from empowering edu cational opportunities that may provide valuable and enriching experiences (Crepeau Hobs on & Bianco, 2011; Shauness y et al. 2007). For example, English


14 l anguage l earners with a high aptitude for math and problem solving may be challenged by the level of v ocabulary or word content on math placement tests, leading to placement in lower level groups Consequently, many students are not provided access to engaging, personalized curriculum that explores their creative abilities, high level thinking, and probl em solving skills (Callahan, 2005). As a country we have failed to support our diverse students by attempting to improve academic performance through mandates and a rigid educational system, even though changing needs in the American student body call fo r practices that center on the learner (Salinas & Garr, 2009). Salinas and Garr (2009) put forth that utilizing a student centered approach to teaching and learning is more effective at meeting the diverse needs of students in American schools. With this foundation as a backdrop, I sought to explore how peer coaching could work to facilitate a student driven environment Relevant Literature In the following review of the relevant literature, I aim to situate student centered teaching and learning practice s within the context of constructivist learning theory an educational approach rooted in the belief that students construct knowledge according to their interests, beliefs, background experiences, and social interactions (Richardson, 2003). I will then further explore elements of constructivism that I could incorporate into my own practice to help facilitate student centered learning within my classroom. I will conclude by examining a framework for peer coaching that may foster collaboration and social interaction among students as they work toward personal learning goals. A century ago, constructivist theorist John Dewey emphasized in Democracy and Education (1916) that the most advantageous education was that which was developed to meet


15 child and put forward tenets of differentiation and personalization as best pr actice s in education. With educational foresight, Dewey described the best education as rooted in the lives of students, rather than separated from their existence outside of the school. In this regard, students should engage in an educational experience that integrates their interests, backgrounds, and local environment. Nel Noddings (2003) further suggested the idea that the personalization of education is paramount to meeting the needs of all students. In her text, Happiness and Education Noddings c alled for responsive, personalized learning experiences and courses designed to attend to the interest s and talent s of students. Dewey (1916) and Noddings (2003) highlight ed the need for student centered instructional practices that motivate students and make learning relevant by tailoring teaching and learning to the interests and needs of students within each classroom. According to constructivism, the personalization of curriculum is only one piece of the great educational puzzle, which also requires op portunities for sharing new learning and receiving peer feedback. Vygotsky (1978) added that learning i s inherently a highly personal phenomenon, as individuals make meaning of the world through social and active experiences and personal reflection. Rich ardson (2003) concurred and stated engage in dialogue with peers. The social construction of knowledge, supported with opportunit ies to add to, challenge, or change beliefs and understandings (Richardson, 2003), is agree that when students are left out of the process of instructional p lanning, they are alienated from their learning. In order to boost student engagement and allow students the greatest


16 opportunities for growth, a model of differentiated, student centered education that is relevant, personally interesting and encourages student collaboration is needed. To address the piece of personalization in learning, Tomlinson (2004) proposed that while it seems logical in the traditional sense of schooling that the institution and/or teacher uphold responsibility for differentiated learning, as students grow towards independence they (p. 8). In other words, Tomlinson suggested that students need to learn to advocate for themselves through understanding what they know, targeting areas where they need support, and identifying interests or questions that may deepen their understanding. In this way, differentiation becomes a synerg y between both student and teacher, whereby the student has the power to shape and guide their own learning. Harford (2008) and Rader (2005) agreed that children need opportunities to self identify areas in which they require additional support to build u nderstanding as well as the time to reflect on their progress toward their personal goals. Providing these opportunities to develop personal learning goals within the school setting motivates and empowers students as they show growth and develop towards t he goals they set for themselves (Cheung, 2004; Harford, 2008; Rader, 2005). Given the social, personalized nature of learning established in the preceding literature, the concept of peer coaching seems an ideal fit for meeting the needs of diverse classro oms. Bowman Perrott et al. (2013) cite d noticeable academic gains as a result of collaboration with peers across various studies, including considerable impact on students with disabilities. Peer coaching, as defined by Parker, Hall, and Kram (2008), cre h two people of equal status actively participate in a process of helping each other on specific tasks o r Through a model of peer coaching students have the opportunity to benefit


17 from learning within a par tnership that makes them feel as though they can be mutually supportive. A Framework for Peer Coaching Unlike traditional models of coaching, with peer coaching students do not need prerequisite understandings of topics in order to support one another. Rather, the focus lies on the process of coaching. The research of L adyshewsky (2006), Parker, Hall, and Kram (2008), and Shams and Law (2012) outline d comparable frameworks for peer coaching that can be adapted for use at the elementary le vel. The first significant component for developing a model of peer coaching is that outcomes be grounded in meeting the needs of individuals through self selected goals (Ladyshewsky, 2006; Parker, Hall, & Kram 2008; Shams & Law, 2012). A commitment to coaching partnerships including supportive pairings, as well as designated times for coaching interactions and reflection, were also identified across the literature as integral components of implementing a peer coaching model (Ladyshewsky, 2006; Parker, Hall, & Kram, 2008 ; Shams & Law, 2012). Ladyshewksy (2006) and Shams and Law (2012) further highlight ed the specific advantages of predetermining the structures for coaching interactions by identifying the necessary instruction, protocols, and scaffolds t hat should be addressed throughout implementation. The effectiveness of peer coaching also relies heavily on the generation of reciprocal feedback between the coaching partners (Ladyshewsky, 2006; Parker, Hall, & Kram, 2008 ; Shams & Law, 2012). The final component of the peer coaching framework requires reflection on feedback and developing a plan for action (Ladyshewsky, 2006; Parker, Hall, & Kram, 2008 ). Goal s etting. Coon and Walker (2013) asserted that the American educational system places too much focus on the endpoint of learning, which is often a grade. These authors argue d that assessment practices reinforce pushing students away from their own interests or personal


18 learning goals, causing them to become disconnected and disengaged. Coon and Walker conclude d that a classroom that implements the use of goal setting by allowing students to self select their learning objectives takes the first steps in creating active learners, whereby students can begin to recognize their own levels of understan ding, curiosities, and gaps in knowledge. As students engage in the coaching process, working towards their own personal learning objectives, they can begin to see the connections between their learning in school and their life outside. Hattie and Tempe rley (2007) emphasized that students who engage in a process such a s peer coaching, including setting their own goals and receiving feedback, demonstrate a greater capacity for self regulation and problem solving. Self selected learning objectives are mos t successful ly develop ed into meaningful experiences when a clear picture of the end product, as well as identified skills or tasks that need to be accomplished, are defined (Coon & Walker, 2013; Hattie & Temperley, 2007). Specifically, Hattie and Temperl ey (2007) refer red to the Clear success criteria not only help students stay focused on the smaller steps needed to meet their personal learning objectives, but they also serve as checkpoints for which coaching partners can provide one another targeted feedback. Commitment to coaching. One of the strengths of the peer coaching model is that the coaching partnership is developed between peers of equal status ( Parker, Hall, & Kram 2008). In this regard, students are not paired across abilities or age, as might occur with a mentor or tutor, but rather with a peer at their level of cognition, age, and/or interest. Developing coaching partnerships that are roote d in a foundation of respect and positivity is an important element of successful peer coaching (Ladyshewsky, 2006; Shams & Law, 2012). Ladyshewsky (2006) further posited that coaching dyads based on previously formed positive relationships can be


19 benefic ial in that it takes less time to build rapport and trust between partners. The coaching partners should be able to interact when giving and receiving feedback in a manner that is non evaluative and does not result in one party feeling ashamed or inferior Structure. Perhaps one the most taxing structural hurdles when developing peer coaching is the availability of time (Ladyshewsky, 2006; Shams & Law, 2012). Dedicating specific times for coaching interactions is imperative to solidifying a commitment to coaching. Setting aside allocated time for coaches to meet, provide feedback, and reflect is necessary for peer coaching to be successful. Key skills and instructional practices also need to be identified prior to beginning the peer coaching cycle (Ladyshewsky, 2006; Shams & Law, 2012). Essential skills such as active listening, the ability to ask both clarifying and probing questions, engaging in reflective discourse, summarizing information, and providing feedback to encourage future efforts are identified as crucial in making peer coaching effective. Ladyshewsky (2006) recommended the use of protocols when establishing the peer coaching proc ess. Such protocols for coaching techniques might include exercises for selecting a coaching partner or to establish a commitment to the coaching partnership, routines for determining success criteria and/or documenting learning stems for providing feedb ack reflecting on progress, and/or developing an action plan. Scheduling time and providing students with a road map for coaching may help to implement successful peer coaching within the classroom. Feedback. Reciprocal feedback is the indispensable c ore of peer coaching. Without feedback, the coaching cycle turns to simple observation. Quinton and Smallbone (2010) advise d that in an effort to meet learning objectives, feedback be given in a timely manner so that it is relevant and salient to specific actions taken. In addition, feedback should be directly


20 connected to the predetermined success criteria the small steps identified to meet each selected learning objective (Hattie & Temperley, 2006). Feedback that focuses on other aspects of learning, or that is too complex, can lead to confusion about how to move forward (Hattie & Temperley, 2006; Quinton & Smallbone, 2010). Hattie and Temperley (2006) argue d that in order for feedback to be effective, it must respond to at least one of three major questions : Where am I going? (What are the goals?), How am I going? (What progress is being made toward the goal?), and Where to next? (What activities need to be undertaken to Through the use of these three question stems, peer coaching partners can provide one another with targeted feedback to assist in the development of action plans for moving forward with meeting self se lected learning objectives. Reflection. The final phase of the peer coaching cycle relies on the feedback each coach provides. Quality, targeted feedback provides the opportunity for students to reflect on their objective success criteria, the progress they have made, and what actions to take next (Hattie & Temperley, 2006; Quinton & Smallbone, 2010). Quinton and Smallbone (2010) outline d a process of reflection in three smaller segments. First, partners begin by acknowledging how they feel about or their emotional response to the feedback they receive from their coach. Next, students respond with what they think by evaluating and analyzing the feedback they have been given. Lastly, students identify actions to take in order to help them move furth er towards their learning objective. By compartmentalizing each segment of reflection Quinton and Smallbone suggest ed an avenue whereby students are able to separate their emotional response to feedback. This separation allows students to think about th e feedback provided in relation to the process toward their learning objective and continue productively, without negatively impacting the coaching relationship.


21 Background According to the Illinois School Report Card in 2015, my school and the surrounding district perform ed well academically on comparative state standardized testing results. Of the third through fifth grade students, 70% met or exceeded standards in reading, and 60% met or exceeded standards in mathematics. District data shows similar tre nds, with 75% meeting or exceeding standards in reading and 63% meeting or exceeding standards in mathematics (Illinois State Board of Education, 2015). Several years ago, in an attempt to encourage student centered learning, my district wide enrichment model and (200 5), the district vision level learning, creative problem solving, and the motivation to pursue rigorous and rewarding ies and resources to help them actualize their potential, cycles of inquiry driven entirely by student s individual interest s and goals were implemented as part of the core curriculum (Renzulli, 2005). The term personalized learning was adopted within th e context of my district to describe the resulting student driven learning support students as needed. For the purpose of this study, personalized learning is de fined as a district wide initiative during which all Kindergarten through fifth grade students are provided time in the daily schedule to engage in research and/or educational activities geared toward exploring questions or topics of personal interest. Du ring this time, students work ed independently or in small groups designed around common topics or skills. Apart from the expectation that all students were provided time and guidance through the process of personalized learning, the structure of how to ac complish this varie d greatly from classroom to classroom.


22 Purpose of the Study and Research Question Student centered learning experiences, such as personalized learning, hold hope for teachers, schools, and districts to bridge the gaps between educationa l standards and the diverse needs found in American classrooms. Therefore, in t his study I explored how I could develop a peer coaching model in a fourth grade general education classroom of the process. The following research questions were used to guide my study: 1. How can I develop a model of peer coaching within the personalized learning component of my curriculum? 2. How do students respond to the implementation of peer coaching during personalized learning? Significance of the Study Providing my students with learning opportunities that both empower and enrich their growth is paramount to my philosophy as an educator, and the concept of peer coaching, utilizing the framework previously outlined, seemed an ideal fit for supporti ng personalized, student centered learning within my classroom. Rather than relying solely on the teachers, my observations suggest that peer coaching provided a structure for interactions that supported students as they worked with one another to share progress towards their individual goals and engage in reciprocal feedback By implementing peer coaching, student centered learning became a natural process whereby the responsibility for meeting the diverse needs of learners within the classroom wa s shared with students. Throughout the course of this study, I focused on both the process and impact of implementing a peer coaching model during the personalized learning component of my curriculum, which allowed me to gain better insight into the lear ning, structures, and culture within my classroom. Although my intent was to specifically study the peer coaching process with regard to my students, I also incurred personal benefits that included buil ding my


23 professional knowledge and gaining perspectiv e and clarity o n my own practices. Throughout this study, I discovered how being metacognitive about the teaching and learning within my classroom holds great power for both my students and myself Thinking about what we do reflecting on our teaching an d learning practices and discussi ng progress towards goals and next steps with one another fostered growth for my students and me and holds potential to enhance student learning and professional practice for others. Student centered teaching and learni ng facilitates opportunities to bridge the gap in education and achievement by providing students with curriculum that is catered to their needs and interests, making learning relevant and accessible while also maintaining differentiated, rigorous expectat ions ( Salinas & Garr 2009). As students take responsibility for their learning, assuming an active role in setting goals for themselves, reflecting on their progress, and constructing an understanding of their misunderstandings through feedback and disco urse with peers, they not only grow academically but also begin to develop the skills necessary for navigating and adapting to the society they live within. This study holds promise for influencing student centered learning efforts among my fourth grade t eam members, school community, and the greater district, as we aim to enhance education through models that foster ownership and target the di verse needs of our students. Affording students the time and resources to engage in student centered learning expe riences requires teachers to step away from traditional curriculum and pedagogy. While shifting teaching to be more learner centered may seem daunting, according to the research of Danielson (2011), implementing student centered teaching and learning prac tices within the classroom exemplifies the qualities of exceptional teachers. In The Framework for Teaching Evaluation Instrument which is utilized for teacher evaluation in an exponentially increasing


24 number of districts across the county, Danielson out lines student centered practices as indicators for classifying teachers as distinguished. For example, in domain 1f Designing Student Assessments and domain 3d Using Assessment in Instruction, Danielson suggests that formative assessment, such as feedb ack, be developed by, provided by, and used by teachers, students, and peers to monitor student progress (p. 22 25, p. 62 65). Danielson also delineates in domain 3c Engaging Students in Learning, that both proficient and distinguished teachers engage s tudents through the inclusion of relevant, personalized learning that allows students the opportunity to take ownership of topics and methods of learning as well as providing the opportunity for reflection (p. 58 61). In light of the sampling of these pra ctices as outlined by Danielson, this study also works to provide teachers with another tool in the instructional box to improve and enhance student learning through the explicit examination of how to implement peer coaching along with the perceived impact it has in the elementary classroom. Research Methods This exploratory study aimed to better understand both the process an d impact of implementing a peer coaching model with in the elementary classroom Throughout the six weeks of data collection, I assumed the dual role of teacher and researcher as I intentionally and systematically studied my own practice in order to gain insight into how to develop a model of differentiated, personalized instruction. As an educator seeking to improve my own instruc tion as well as answer questions related to the teaching and learning within my classroom separating my research from pr actice was neither plausible nor desirable (Caro Bruce, Flessner, Klehr & Zeichner, 2007 ; Cochran Smith & Lytle, 2009; Dana & Yendol Ho ppey, 2014 ). With this in mind, I continually reflected on my role s and acknowledg ed my position throughout this inquiry not only as an elementary teacher of ten years, but also as a White, middle class, female. I utilized the process of practitioner i nquiry to act as both storyteller a nd a character in the story as


25 I studied the development and impact of peer coaching in my own local context (Cochran Smith & Lytle, 2009 ; Dana & Yendol Hoppey, 2014). Practitioner inquiry afforded me the opportunity to guide my own professional development through the careful observation and analysis of a phenomenon of personal interest within my instructional practice. As Dana and Yendol Hoppey (2014) suggest ed meaningful research should align w ith my daily work and practices a nd provide me the freedom to capture data from the resources created for and by the students within my classr oom. Practitioner inquiry allowed many of the structures and practices already in place to serve as sources of dat a to answer my research questions including journaling, questionnaires, and video recordings. In the following subsections, I will discuss the context of this study and review how participants were selected. Then, I will outline the various types of da ta that were collected and describe the process of data analysis I utilized to determine my findings and key understandings. Context This study was conducted in my fourth grade classroom of twenty one students, aged nine to ten years old. My class was one of three fourth grade classrooms in our school, which serves a population of 644 registered students in K 5 th grades. Racially, the school student body is comprised of 81.5% White, 1.6% Black, 7.5% Hispanic, 5.1% Asian, and 4.3% Multiracial/Ethnic or oth er origin (Illinois State Board of Education, 2015). Of the student population served, none are reported as homeless, 2% are eligible for free and reduced lunch, 19.1% are classified as students with disabilities, and 7.8% are receiving support as English Language Learners (ISBE, 2015 ). My classroom composition was similar to the overall school student population, consisting of students represented as 75% White, 4% Black, 8% Hispanic, 4% Asian, and 8% Multiracial/Ethnic or other origin. In addition, no s tudents within my classroom were reported as homeless, 4% were eligible for free a nd reduced lunch, 16.7% were


26 classified as students with disabilities, and 4% received support as English Language Learners, with an additional 12.5% released from ELL servic es within the previous year. Prior to beginning the study, which was conducted during the third trimester of the 2016 20 17 school year, key skills essential for peer coaching as identified by Ladyshewsky (2006) were infused into everyday le ssons Skills including active listening, asking questions, summarizing, paraphrasing, and reflecti ng were modeled and practiced throughout the daily curriculum in order to build capacity for independent application whe n peer coaching began Throughout the second trim ester, s tudents learned to set personal learning goals during our reading workshop and gained experience providing constructive peer feedback within writing The essential skills needed to implement peer coaching were also useful tools for my students as learner s and while emphasis w as later focused on uti lizing skills such as listening, asking questions, reflection to be successful peer coaches, employing them outside the parameters of this study was a natural outcome. Participants The context for the st udy was my own classroom with the intent to dig deeper into my own practice as well as investigate the impact peer coaching had on my students Therefore the participants for the study were comprised of a convenience sample of my fourth grade students b ecause they were readily accessible (Creswell, 2013). Due to the fact that th e participants were children, age d between nine and ten years written consent for both the students and their parents or legal guardian, as outlined by the institutional review board was obtained. All students participated in peer coaching, as it was implemented as a classroom learning practice ; however only information and data collected for those providing consent were analyzed. Also, no identifying information for individua l students was included in the analysis for this study.


27 Students were randomly assigned letter name pseudonyms, such as Student A, that were used throughout the scope of the study. As Creswell (2013) suggested the entire classroom population would have b e en difficult to investigate adequ ately, so instead, the impact on a small er representative student sample was analyzed more c losely This sub group of fifteen students was purposefully selected for further study in order to gain a more in depth understanding of how students perceived peer coaching within the classroom. The data from these fifteen students were considered for trustworthiness as the students were consistently engaged in coaching with the same partner or team throughout the durati on of the study. Information and data directly tied to specific students, such as video recording were only used for the fifteen students selected for further study. Through investigating a sample of students who were representative of the spectrum of n eeds and abilities seen in American classrooms today, I hope d to highlight a more comprehensive picture of how im plementing peer coaching impacted fourth graders perceptions of peer coaching within the context of the personalized learning component of the curriculum Data Collection Due to the broad flexibility of practitioner research, a wide range of data were collected in the attempt to catalogue how peer coaching was both planned by me and executed by students and to glean a greater understanding of how peer coaching impacted the students in my class (Cochran Smith & Lytle, 2009). Researcher journal. The unique nature of practitioner research recommends that I not remove myself from data collection (Cochran Smith & Lytle, 2009; Dana & Yendol Hoppey, 2014). Introspection and reflection on my own thoughts, feelings, and actions as a practitioner were a valuable component of understanding the bigger picture when investigating questions during my research and were also a significant part of my duties as a responsive educator


28 (Anderson, Nihlen entries that served as both an intimate journal and a log of events and anecdotes from the classroom. attended to my instructional practices, personal responses, and reflections durin g my study of ing together, the second entry field in my researcher journal acted as a catalogue of observations and anecdotes to track what my students were doing during the time utilize d for peer coaching. For a more explicit picture of my use of double entries in the research journal see Appendix A To address my first research question, I recorded my instructional plans, thoughts, and questions to documen t the timeline for establishing a peer coaching model as well as reflect ing on what was happening during coaching time within my classroom. In one example, instances of ith some students individually to help them understand the types of questions to ask their partner so that feedback would be constructive. In one such instance from my research journal, I wrote nerally, both need to dig MUCH deeper into specifics about what they hope to do. I asked Student M some probing questions Researcher journal). As a practition er, it was unavoidable that I act as a participant researcher ; however notes about my students were taken using unbiased or judgmental wording or commentary (Creswell, 2013; Dana & Yendol Hoppey, 2014). The observational structure I used to address my se cond research question consisted of informally recording the skills and actions students were engaged


29 in during coaching sessions including discussion, research, asking questions, reflecting, clarifying, and summarizing ( Anderson, Nihlen & Herr, 2007 ). I n one entry a lot of with partner to determine if he/she was ready for the next step. Response ( Researcher journal, p. 7 ). By using an approach that was descriptive of what I saw my students doing and heard them saying during coaching sessions, I was able to limit the use of my opinions and enhance the trustworthiness of my research process. Questionnaires. Two questionnaires were administered during the course of the study ; both consisted of a combination of descriptive, enumerative, and analytic explanatory questions ( Anderson, Nihlen & Herr, 2007 ). The first questionnaire, as shown in Appendix B was given to all students prior to beginning the first week of th is study. At this time, students had already been engaged in personalized learning for one week. This pre questionnaire was a general s of their role in determining what they want to learn and their understanding of peer coaching. An anonymous reflective "exit slip" consisting of four yes/no questions was also provided after the first coaching session in week one erstanding of the peer coaching model ( Appendix C ). This short questionnaire was used as a tool to help plan for instruction and the format of peer coaching moving forward. The final post questionnaire, shown in Appendix D served as a reflection on peer coaching after week six of


30 model on learning and their thoughts and suggestions about how peer coachi ng may be changed or used for future learning. Video recordings of coaching sessions. Following the first coaching session, students were asked to video record all subsequent coaching sessions for the purposes of data analysis. One video for each of the seven coaching partnerships included in this study was selected at random to further explore the dialogue that took place during coaching sessions. To randomly select the sample session, I numbered each video and placed a coordinating number post it on a table, closed my eyes and pulled a post it to determine which video would be transcribed and analyzed. Data Analysis As a practitioner researcher, qualitative data analysis is a natural part of my daily work as I gather information to help guide instructi on. Data sources for this study were collectively analyzed to gain a better understanding of the process of implementing a peer coaching model and to determine the impact of student peer to peer coaching. After reading through the entirety of data collec ted, I began by noting the big ideas that developed within each type of data that was separately collected from my researcher journal, student questionnaires, and video transcriptions (Creswell, 2013). Time, structure of coaching, and types of feedback em erged as big ideas within my notes and gave a place to dig deeper into the dat a through more specific, systematic coding. Subsets of data categorized by process or impact were then coded further to offer a more detailed description of the big ideas identified through my notes After I had a working set of defined codes, a random sample of data were then coded by my faculty advisor to ensure the validity of the codes deriv ed. Together, we determined re coding would be beneficial to gain a deeper, more comprehensive picture of how peer coaching impacted my students. Data subsets


31 were then re aggregated to identify overarching themes that emerged across my researcher journal student questionnaires, and video recordings of the student coaching sessions. Researcher journal. As the study progressed, my researcher journal helped me determine the strengths and weaknesses of the peer coaching model and how to best adjust instruc tion to be responsive in aiding the development of peer coaching partnerships/teams. During data analysis, examples of recurring actions, thoughts, and questions were grouped together to help identify themes that emerged related to the process of implemen ting a peer coaching model and how my students responded. Questionnaires. Questionnaires were coded and compared to gain a better understanding of how the peer coaching model changed over the course of implementation and eptions on the impact of peer coaching on their learning. Data were analyzed by question from the questionnaires using noting and coding, and then re aggregated to identify general trends related to the process and outcome of peer coaching. These codes w ere later divided into the broader themes shared in the subsequent findings, citing specific anecdotes and experiences that demonstrated the big ideas that developed across the various types of data collected. For example, App endix E shows how the theme challenges of time emerged from multiple questions on the post Video recordings of coaching sessions. The video sessions were transcribed for sessions, including taking note of body language and student attention to the conversation. Video


32 tr anscriptions were also analyzed and coded in a manner similar to the analysis of the researcher journal and questionnaires. The purpose in using the video recordings was to tell a more in depth story of how students engaged in peer coaching. Codes relati ng to the structure of the conversations between coaching partners, the length of time spent coaching, and the types of questions and feedback provided were applied to and compared with the codes derived from student questionnaires and my researcher journa l to build a stronger understanding of how students responded to the implementation of peer coaching. Appendix F is an example of transcription data from a coaching session between Student A and Student N. I used notes to rec ord important observations as I watched the video, but then I coded only what coaches said during the coaching session to further analyze the types of questions and feedback they were providing to their partner ( Appendix G ). R esearcher Positionality and Trustworthiness As I conduct ed the study, it was imperative that I remain cognizant of my intersecting roles as both teacher and researcher ( Anderson, Nihl en & Herr, 2007 ; Creswell, 2013). I understood the importance of recognizing my own biases, particularly those influenced by my previous experiences and personal values, and their ability to impact the direction of this study. Although I have been an educator for ten years, this was only my second fo rmalized inquiry to gain insight into my practices and the resulting culture and environment they create with in my classroom. I honored my personal and profession al affinities for perfection and neatness during the process as a researcher and acknowledged that I did not need to minutely manage each detail unfolded.


33 Working as a practitioner researcher in the context of this study, I closely regulated my own soc ial position as a White English monolingual, able bodied, middle class, and female Particularly when delving into the video transcriptions of students, who were representative of varying backgrounds and abilities, I took measures to use non judgmental l anguage within notes and observational data. Throughout data collection and analysis phases, I was mindful of my positional power as the teacher as I began to unpack the stories of my students. By owning my position and taking careful steps to engage in the research process, I increased the trustworthiness of the story that unfolded from my students, while simultaneously acknowledging to my audience the lens through which this research was conducted. Furthermore, I believe I added to the trustworthiness of the research process and credibility of the outcomes by collecting and systematically analyzing a variety of data to ensure I developed an accurate representation and understanding I interacted with the data first by makin g notes of big ideas developing within my researcher journal, student questionnaires, and the video transcriptions. Then, my notes were compared across the data to create a clearer picture of the consistent big ideas that emerged throughout the samples co llected and codes were identified to further detail how coaching developed within my classroom and how my students responded. Engaging in ongoing dialogue about the process of data analysis with my faculty chair also added another view of the data and hel ped to bolster the trustworthiness of my findings. Su m mary As the American education system shifts towards an increasing diversity of needs and the f inancial support p rovided to meet them is reduced, the call for gre ater differentiation and more effective student centered instructional methods falls to teachers in general education classrooms Too often however, these teachers feel restricted by the narrow definition of


34 differentiation, focused on remediation as the result of accountability reforms. As a result, diverse student populations, including English Language Learners, students living in poverty, and/or students with disabilities are excluded from learning opportunities that may serve to empowe r and enhance their potential. In addition, the resou rces to identify and encourage the growth of advanced learners across the student population have diminished, creating less access to enriching learning experiences for American students collectively. Therefore, the purpose of this study seeks to investig ate, through practitioner research, the process and impact of implementing a peer coaching model in the elementary classroom in the attempt to further develop student centered practices during the personalized learning component of my curriculum. The follo wing chapters will focus on the pertinent findings and provide my vision for the implications of this work at both a personal level as well as the broader level of my grade level team, school, and the district within which I teach


35 CHAPTER 2 FINDINGS As a fourth grade, general education teacher, it is ultimately my decision and responsibility to implement best practices for classroom instruction. Much of the core curriculum is provided for by district mandate ; however the manner or process in which we e nact the curriculum we are given is largely up to the discretion of classroom teachers. This study aims to develop a deeper understanding of how peer coaching impacts teaching and learning within the context of the personalized learning component of our c urriculum For the purposes of this study, peer coaching is defined as a process in which two or three students collaborate to help one another build or extend new skills, develop ideas, and/or problem solve. Personalized learning is defined as a distric t designated learning experience during which students engage in personal inquiry projects determined by their own interests and goals. While the focus of personalized learning is to facilitate student centered learning opportunities, this exploratory exa mination works to unveil how instructional processes, such as peer coaching, can impact teaching and learning. The questions guiding this study are as follows: 1. How can I develop a model of peer coaching within the personalized learning component of my curriculum? 2. How do students respond to the implementation of peer coaching during personalized learning? Throughout the course of this study, I collected multiple forms of data from the participant population, which consisted of 21 students from my fourth grade classroom. Student work samples, student pre and post questionnaires regarding their perceptions and experiences with peer coaching, video recordings of peer coaching sessions, and my researcher journal were all coded and aggregated for the findin gs presented in this chapter. For the purposes of consistency and trustworthiness, data are presented from only 15 of the original 21 students. The 15 students


36 represented in the findings maintained their original coaching partnerships throughout this st udy and were regularly present for coaching sessions. Six students were not included in data analysis and reporting of findings due to a lack of consent for participation (2) and technical difficulties recording coaching sessions, which resulted in a lack of transcribable and codable data (4). Looking at the big picture, pre and post survey questionnaire data indicate 71.43% of my students felt that engaging in peer coaching benefited their overall personalized learning experience, while 21.43% believed p eer coaching had no impact on their learning, and 7.14% remained indifferent (Figure 2 1). When asked to reflect upon how peer coaching helped them, five students shared that feedback and guidance on personalized learning projects were beneficial. In add questionnaire). Both Student K and Student J felt that peer coaching afforded them the opportunity dents, peer coaching helped to facilitate a process of student driven research and reflection; however, the perceived impact may have been contingent on the amount of time they engaged in coaching. To this point, Student I, who believed that coaching had questionnaire). The findings in this chapter are presented by overarching themes across both research questions. Themes that emerged from the data include establishing a routine for peer coaching, developing the coaching partnership, and determining the practices of effective coaches. Each theme will begin with a discussion of what I did to implement and develop a model of peer coaching, followed by a discussion of how st udents responded to peer coaching within the classroom.


37 Figure 2 1 Student perception of the impact of peer coaching on learning. Establishing a Routine The first major theme that emerged from an analysis of the data was the challenge of time when establishing a routine for peer coaching. Specifically, this theme included trying to decide when coaching partners should meet (scheduling), how often coaching partners should meet (frequency), and how long coaching sessions should last (duration). Coll ectively, these demonstrate my struggles of trying to implement peer coaching within the structure of a given school day. Scheduling From an instructional standpoint, establishing a consistent day and time for coaching sessions made sense because it allowe d for a designated space in the schedule for students to meet with their coaching partner to share their progress and new learning, which then led to students garner ing feedback to help them propel their thinking and work forward. In planning for implemen tation, I blocked out an hour on each Tuesday and Thursday afternoon for students to engage in working toward their personalized learning goals. This was followed by one 30 minute block on Friday afternoons to allow students time to meet with their coachin g partners. Data in my researcher journal indicated that throughout the six weeks of this study, there were five recorded Peer coaching benefited learning 71% Peer coaching had no impact on learning 22% Indifferent 7% Percieved Impact of Peer Coaching


38 personal learning goals or coaching sessions. Whenever possible, alternative times were carved out to compensate for scheduling conflicts, such as assemblies, a field day, or limited availability of the necessary resources for personalized learning. With regard to scheduling, my researche r journal also indicated that an afternoon of standardized testing caused challenges during coaching and personalized learning because work time it was the end of the day her journal, p. 4) Another scheduling issue that arose was directly related to frequency, which will be discussed in further detail in a subsequent subsection ; however I will mention it here as it cannot be separated from the larger picture of scheduling In accordance with the Tuesday Thursday Friday plan for the peer coaching cycle, I allocated two days for students to work toward personal learning goals before meeting with their coaching team. Due to consistent changes in the schedule, I began to not ice that meeting every week to coach did not allow for enough work q uickly became a challenge as I also observed students working at differing paces toward their personal learning goals. Many of the logistics within the structure of the existing school schedule impacted the original plans I had for the overall process in w ays I had not anticipated. Additionally, within the first couple of weeks of this study it became clear that some partner on scheduled coaching days, while others many coaching teams needed additional time to engage in coaching outside of the scheduled half


39 students wanted less structure for coaching and more flexibility in when they had to meet with their peer coach, how often, and for how long. As a result, I altered the coaching schedule to allow for flexibility among coaching teams. I maintained the Tuesday Thursday Frida y block schedule ; however students were given the freedom to meet with their peer coaches as needed. In the post study questionnaire, students shared that scheduling was one factor that some found difficult when participating in peer coaching. For example, when asked what parts of peer questionnaire) was a challenge in terms of scheduling for the coaching teams. Student I also com (Post questionnaire). When asked what changes they would make for peer coaching in the future, sugg Post questionnaire). Student K, Student L, and Student R also indicated that they wanted to participate in peer coaching but did not have time to finish work towards their own personal learning goals (Post questionnaire). Data collected from the students, as well as my researcher journal, indicated that scheduling time for peer coaching was a key issue associated with the overall theme of the challenges when establishing a routine. Frequency The initial plan for implementation outlined that students should meet with their coaching partner one time per week, on Fridays, over the course of six w eeks, which would result in a total of six coaching sessions per team. The half hour block allotted for coaching sessions allowed time for each member of the coaching team to share and receive feedback. All students were required to engage in coaching th e first week of the study ; however, as previously mentioned in


40 the scheduling section of these results, I observed during their first coaching meeting together that students were progressing toward their personal learning goals at different paces. The var iance in productivity on the scheduled Tuesday and Thursday independent work days made it clear that pre determining how often peer coaching should occur would rely primarily on the needs and progress of each coaching team. The variance of work pace ignit ed the reconsideration of how frequently students should be meeting within their coaching teams. This was specifically reflected in my researcher journal be chal lenging. Perhaps meeting every other week regarding personalized learning is more did not resolve the issue of students needing feedback and guidance from their coaching partner reflections completed by students after their first coaching sessions supported the desire for flexibility in their coaching routine. In order to best meet their needs as coaching teams, I changed the expectations to require at least two coaching sessions the first week, which we had already completed, and the last week. Time between was left up to the discretion of each co aching team to decide when and how often they would meet to engage in coaching. Having the opportunity to determine their own schedule and frequency of meetings allowed students to work on their personal learning goals and seek coaching based on their in dividual needs. As a result, some coaching teams met only twice, which was the minimum number of required meetings, while others met three or four times, as displayed in Table 2 1. In addition, the initial protocol developed for the coaching session enco uraged both students to share each time they met. Table 2 1 shows that while some coaching partnerships continued to


41 meet when both students were ready to share and receive feedback, many partnerships met to engage in coaching for only one partner at a ti me. Table 2 1 Frequency of c oaching s essions and d uration of s ample s essions by c oaching t eam Peer c oaching t eam Number of c oaching s essions Duration of s ample (in minutes) Student L & Student M 4 14:06 (5:58/8:08) Student A & Student N 3 7:08 Student P & Student Q 4 10:37 Student E & Student S 3 16:53 Student K & Student J & Student R 4 4:38 Student C & Student D 3 12:49 (5:28/7:21) Student I & Student O 2 6:20 On the post questionnaire, when asked what they might change about peer coaching for the future, Student N, replied should change how often we got peer coaching so we can also peer c oaching beneficial, one student indicated three times per week, three students proposed once or twice a week, and seven students recommended meeting at least once a week with their partner. These data, from my journal and student reflection, clearly demon strate the enduring challenges related to time when establishing frequency of a routine. Duration In the interest of time and to help provide a structure for students, I established a ten minute protocol for coaching sessions which broke down into 7 minut es of sharing new information, findings, and/or ideas, 2 minutes of the coach asking questions, and 1 minute for


42 follow up thinking and response. Each student in the partnership was given this ten minutes of time to focus directly on her/his personalized l earning work. This allowed time for all members of the coaching team to share their work, answer questions, and receive feedback to help them determine the next steps toward meeting their personal learning goals within the thirty minute block on Fridays. Notes from my researcher journal showed that while some students were able to follow the protocol, others were not sure what to do, were off task, or finished the process very quickly. g session revealed that 68% of them felt that there was the right amount of time to share and give/get feedback, but 32% did not feel as though the duration of the coaching sessions established by the protocol was appropriate. As my students, again, demon strated differing needs for the coaching routine the disparity in de cision to allow coaching teams the freedom and flexibility to determine the schedule, frequency, and duration of their coaching sessions. Table 2 1 demonstrates the variance of duration of different coaching groups from a sample of transcribed coaching se ssions. The length of time students spent coaching ranged from 4 minutes and 38 seconds for one cycle of sharing, questions, and feedback to 16 minutes and 53 seconds. The structure of the sessions also fluctuated from the given protocol, which will be e xamined in greater detail in subsequent sections of the findings. Interestingly, Student I and Student R, the two students that disclosed they felt peer coaching had no impact on their learning, also engaged in two of the shortest sample coaching sessions at 6 minutes and 20 seconds and 4 minutes and 38 seconds respectively. In addition, Student R shared on the post


43 trying to finish and peer coaching took up a lot spent engaged in coaching, Student R perceived the task as difficult due to constraints of time peer coaching routine, particularly when determining the duration of coaching sessions. Developing the Coaching Partnership A second overarching theme that was revealed throug h data analysis was the challenge of determining how to develop effective peer coaching partnerships, which were difficult to cultivate with a standard recipe. Within this theme, a beginning understanding of the purpose of coaching was critical for studen and determining what actions and/or feedback coaches should provide to help mutually push their learning were also essential components to the process. Defining Peer Coaching Prior to beginnin g this study, I administered a pre questionnaire to gauge my students understanding of peer coaching and gain better insight into their experiences with personalized learning. When asked how they would explain peer coaching, four students responded that they peer coaching was an opportunity to help out others by offering advice and feedback on each Before the first coaching sessions, the students and I defined the term peer coaching together as oal with a partner in order to allow them to ask questions and provide feedback about how to improve and push our


44 the things that needed to happen during each coaching sess ion. Together we determined that in a coaching session we needed to (Researcher journal). On the post que stionnaire administered to students at the end of this study, 100% of them were able to identify peer coaching as working with a partner or classmate to share work and provide feedback with the purpose of making work better. As shown in Table 2 2, some we 2 2 from the pre and post ques tionnaires for the fifteen students included in this study show a marked change in how they defined and understood peer coaching. Table 2 2. Student p re and post q uestionnaire d efinitions of p eer c oaching Student Pre Questionnaire Post Questionnaire Student A Peer coaching to me is reflection. Peer coaching is getting feedback not from the teacher but from a student. We use peer coaching in our class for feedback and what to did. Student C I have no idea what that is. Peer coaching is when you get feedback from somebody and they tell you what to do next. Student D Peer coaching is when you get feedback from your partner. We use peer coaching by meeting with a partner they give you feedback and you use feedback to make your project to become better. Student E I think that peer coaching is when writing or other subjects that involves us to write of some sort Peer coaching is when someone else helps better. We use peer coaching in writing if our final draft we check it over with someone.


45 Table 2 2. Continued Student Pre Questionnaire Post Questionnaire Student I I think peer coaching is where two students, teachers, or two people give suggestions on how to make something better, but also telling them something well You get together with a partner and give each other suggestions about how we can make our projects better. You also tell your partner what you like about their project. Student J Peer coaching is when you get a partner (or 2) and they are sort of your teacher just not an actual teacher. You choose when you want to meet and your partner tells you things about your project. Student K Peer coaching is when another student grades yo ur work before the real teacher does. We use this a lot in writing. Peer coaching is when a friend or classmate gives you feedback. We use it for PSI and writing. Student L Peer coaching is one student helping another student. Peer coaching is a way a p artner or a group can tell you what to do to make your project better. Student M I forgot Peer coaching is something you and someone else use to help each other with a topic. We use it with tell other coaches what they should add or what did not make sense. Student N When you are giving feedback to a partner you are paired with. Peer coaching is when 2 or 3 students are paired together. The students each take a turn sharing their project. Then the students not sharing gives the other feedback. We u se peer coaching to get feedback on a project. Student O I think that peer coaching is when students try to coach, help, and give feedback to each other. Peer coaching is a way to listen to They would share what they have concerns on as well as what they think you did well. Peer coaching is most helpful in Personalized Learning. Student P Peer coaching is giving feedback on others ideas and/or projects. Kind of like what we did in writing and giving each other Peer coaching is feedback from a partner(s) to help improve what you do. We use peer coaching in writing to give feedback


46 Table 2 2. Continued Student Pre Questionnaire Post Questionnaire Student Q Peer coaching is checking each feedback as possible. Some of us are better at peer coaching than others. I think peer coaching is a good way of learning from other students. Student R We use peer coaching in writing when people read over our pieces and give us advice. Peer coaching is when one person shares their learning and then their peer coach tells them what they need to work on. Student S I think we use peer coaching in our classroom when we help out others. I thin k it means to help sometimes. No data Determining coaching teams that were a good fit in terms of personality, ability level, work habits, and interest within the elementary classroom can be likened to the story of Goldilocks and the Three Bears The data revealed that there were no ideal or easy selection method s that could be used to design coaching teams and in fact, the process of finding a just right coach was quite challenging. As I observed students working on their personal learning goals in the few weeks before beginning this study on peer coaching, I noted their work habits and primary goal s or interest s to consider when designing coaching teams. Overall, student abilit ies and knowledge of their personalities afforded me additional insight as to how they may interact with one another during peer coaching. Coaching teams emerged in a couple of ways: four teams were formed by topic, one was determined by ability, one developed b y topic and ability, and one was created based on the relationship between the students in the coaching team ( Table 2 3) groupings are working the best with students at


47 words, when students paired with on level peers in relation to their general performance abilities or interest and background knowledge on a similar topic, they seemed to benefit the most from the ir peer coaching experience. When students were asked a question about how they would select peer coaching partner(s) however, the responses varied greatly, as displayed in Table 2 3. Table 2 3. Coaching p artnership p airing m ethod and s tudent s uggesti ons for p airing m ethod Coaching t eam s Pairing m ethod Student s uggestions for p airing m ethod Student L Student M topic Our coaching partner would be chose by our topic. I think the coaching partner will be by topic Student A Student N topic I feel like peer coaching partners could be picked by numbers or sticks Our partner would be selected by a person that you never work with. Student P Student Q topic/ ability Your partner would depend on your project C oaching partner should be selected by similar topics Student E Student S topic We should select partner that we work well with No data Student K Student J Student R ability We would have two or one partner(s) that have a similar topic. The same level of learning and grades as you Students should be allowed to pick their own partner. Student C Student D topic Our partner would be selected when the coach knows nothing about your topic. We could pull sticks Student I Student O relationship W ho you work well with E very time we met, we would a different partners until we had one we wanted to stay with because you and him/her did well Some students put forth that coaching teams could be selected randomly, while others proposed picking their own partners. Considering personalities and work habits, there were also


48 well with someone, and even partnering with someone the students had never work ed with before. Topic and interest advocated for coaches that had a knowledge of t he topic, while others felt it would be more beneficial if their coach knew nothing about their personal learning goal. Several students also offered explanations to support their thinking regarding the formation of peer coaching teams, many of which we re directly connected to the habits and coach knows nothing about your topic. That way there will be a lot of questions so you know what to put on your final p stud ents suggested similar concepts when thinking about what could be changed for peer s to get (Student J, P ost es something important the other can ask ost questionnaire ). All observations and student suggestions considered, the selection of coaching partnerships/teams was not an easy or simple task. Developing relationships that allowed for mutuall y effective and beneficial feedback relied on multiple factors, including an understanding of the purpose of peer coaching A key finding in the data revealed that there was no formula or tried and true method for finding effective coaching partnerships, rather the data suggest that partnerships need to be flexible and fluid in order to find an appropriate pairing/team.


49 Practices of Effective Coaches : The Coaching Conversation Students outlined several characteristics that made for successful coaching part ners in the post included that coaches should provide praise for what was done well and be positive and tactful when giving feedback; coaches should listen, be attentive, and be serious in their role as a coach; coaches should be honest; coaches should provide deep feedback; coaches should ask questions; and lastly that good coaches should give more pushes than praise Student I, for example, felt that an effective peer coach would be able Students were initially provided with a peer coaching feedback form ( Appendix H ) to help keep track of their thinking and questions as their partner(s) shared. On the back of the giving feedback. The expectation was also set during this time that coaches would give at least one praise or compliment something done well before offering pushes, which could include questions left unanswered or further questions, gaps in information, and considerations for formatting or resources. Students were fa miliar with the praise and push model of providing feedback, as it was introduced earlier in the school year to help facilitate editing in writing. I also utilized the praise and push model when providing feedback on written responses in reading, so that students would have exposure and experience in receiving consistent feedback in the praise and push format prior to the study beginning. The rationale in providing this structure for coaching feedback was to help students dig deeper and be constructive w hen working with their coaches. In previous experiences of partner work and editing, I found that students had a difficult time delivering and accepting suggestions that could be viewed as negative even when the comments were intended to improve the final


50 I found that throu ghout the study, some needed continued assistance and modeling to help them understand the types of questions that could improve work or push thinking. I recorded six instances of formally working with coaching teams and/or individuals to model asking que stions and providing feedback. Each modeling opportunity included asking questions that were clarifying in regard to missing information (details) or to extend thinking. For example, I met with Student N to help identify what additional details could be added to the design of a new mammal habitat after no specifications about the size area, perimeter, or depth of the living space. I asked Student N clarif ying questions to spur thinking about what size habitat the mammal might need and why. In a subsequent coaching session with Student A, Student N identified similar issues and asked the same questions I had previously modeled to push his/her thinking. Wh en analyzing the transcription data for the video samples of student coaching sessions, I compared the conversation structure to the initial protocol provided in the first coaching session As outlined previously, the ten minute protocol allowed for seven minutes of sharing new information, followed by two minutes of the coach asking questions, and one minute for follow up thinking and response. Using this format, coaches did not have the op portunity to truly begin coaching in the conversation until the last few minutes of their session, and their time was limited to only two minutes. As the teacher, I had hoped to have students documenting their thinking in writing on the peer coaching feed back form ( Appendix H ) so that the team member receiving feedback would have a tactile reminder of questions and


51 suggestions. Based on my observations of the first coaching session, the documentation on their feedback forms, a nd a short class discussion, it became clear that most students felt having an organic conversation rather than a structured process for sharing followed by feedback would be beneficial to facilitate coaching. Following the first coaching session, studen ts were permitted to use the format for coaching they felt best suited their needs as learners and coaches. The coaching session sample videos revealed that five of the seven coaching teams preferred a back and forth conversation, whereby one student shar ed, the coach asked questions affirming an understanding of the content with body language, positive comments, and/or additions of information. After sharing was complete, the coach then wrapped up the session with additional questions, thoughts, and fee dback to help improve or expand work. Student I and Student O decided to share information questions as they read, which was followed by a wrap up of thoughts and feedback (Coaching session video transcription) Six of the seven coaching teams shared the task of taking notes and documenting questions and feedback throughout the coaching sessions. One of the seven coaching teams followed the original protocol for coaching, in which sharing took place uninterrupted and was followed by a response from the coach, but questions and feedback were minimal. Interestingly, the aforementioned coaching team consisted of two of the three students who felt peer coaching had n o impact on their learning, suggesting that perhaps the coaching dialogue correlated to the overall negative perception o f the benefit of peer coaching. When examining the dialogue of the seven sample coaching sessions to gain a better understanding of co mponents of the coaching conversation, it became evident that specific types of praises and pushes were important. The following subsections will look more closely at the types of


52 feedback provided by coaches, including generalized praise, affirmations and additions of information, clarifying questions regarding goals, missing information, unclear presentation, and probing questions intended to extend thinking. The frequency of each specific type of feedback within the coaching samples are represented in F igure 2 2. Figure 2 2 Instances of coaching feedback by type Praise. Praises were encouraged during coaching sessions to help balance constructive feedback questionnaire). Instances of praise were significantly less frequent than questions and suggestions, accounting for only 23% of feedback provided by coaches during the sample coaching sessions ( Figure 2 2) Generalized pra within the student coaching session samples ( Figure 2 2) More specific, the generalized praise was offered as the final comment by the coach on four of the five instances it was pr ovided. This type of praise offered little feedback in terms of what students specifically did well. Other praise 11 11 36 7 14 5 0 5 10 15 20 25 30 35 40 Probing Questions Clarifying Presentation Clarifying Information Clarifying Goals Affirmation or Addition Generalized Praise Number of Instances


53 came in the form of affirmations of content and additions of information, which was more directly connected to specific ideas and thoughts. Affirmations included concurring with the coach. Additions of information included affirmations, as well as adding on thinking to show interest and engage in di scussion regarding the topic. One example of an affirmation with an addition of information was gleaned from the coaching session between Student C and Student D as they brainstormed ideas for avoiding noise pollution posters. Student C suggested placing caution signs in noisy areas, to which Student D agreed the idea was good with a nod of the head Pushes. D uring instruction, I stressed that pushes were an expectation for coac hing because i t enabled students to both give and receive feedback that was constructive. Overall, students felt that the component of peer coaching that helped them grow the most was this push feedback. When asked on the post questionnaire what parts of peer coaching helped them grow as a learn er and what did they enjoy about peer coaching, 76% of students mentioned one of the four outlined types of feedback. Some students mentioned push feedback holistically, as opinions and what they think of my it gives ost questionnaire). Data also indicate that specific feedback regarding missing details and what should be added to make work better were highly valued. F or example, Student A indicated need


54 Student I and Student R, both of whom felt peer coaching did not help them grow, referenced a lack of push feedback as the reason why their coaching experience was ineffective. questionnaire). Student E concurred that peer coaching was diffic ult questionnaire). On the other hand, 40% of students (6) ) and e the most challenging parts of peer coaching. Samples of peer coaching sessions also revealed that students solicited feedback from their coaches when it was not offered on ten occasions In the peer coaching sample transcriptions, I identified four diff erent types of push questions and suggestions that appeared frequently and consistently across coaching teams The push questions and suggestions included: c larifying questions and suggestions related to a ; clarifying confusion o r missing information ; clarifying issues with presentation ; and probing questions intended to extend thinking which were also noted as ways suggestions made by co aches will be examined in greater detail in the following sections. Clarifying goals. accounted for 8% of the feedback ( Figure 2 2) provided from the student coaching session understand the purpose of the information and the progress being shared, as well as clear up confusion about why certai n information mattered. For example, when unsure about the app that really understand your goal like is it erstanding


55 my project is about solar energy, eventually he/she transitioned to discussing solar panels, as well as renewable and nonrenewable resources. Student C, acting as the coach, sought to clarify the goal by red a lack of background knowledge about the topic of solar energy on the part of the coach did cause some confusion ; ultimately however, provide feedback about what to do next. Cons equently, Student C advised that Student D focus further investigation on solar panels after Student D shared that the final goal for their work was Student D to re focus and begin work toward the desired endpoint. Clarifying information. Clarifying questions and suggestions related to confusion about content or missing information constituted 43 % of the feedback provided in the student coaching samples ( Figure 2 2) Seeking further detail was one way coaches attempted to clarify confusion or gaps in information. For example, during a coaching session Student M prodded Student L den, like how big is the den? A deep pool, how deep? Cold temperatures, how cold? Other polar bears. How was able to provide Student L with feedback about what additional aspects of a polar bear habitat needed to be considered or explained more in depth. In another example, Student I directly


56 Throughout t heir discussion of world wars, Student Q consistently asked clarifying questions of Student P related to confusion or gaps in the information provided. Several times, Student P shared thoughts and ideas based on loosely presented background knowledge, whi ch background of content that Student P had not shared. Student Q also a thing that wasn't clear that I was a little confused, the world wars were like the same thing but suggested to Student P to reorganize inform ation so that it had a logical structure rather than jumping around which was difficult to follow. Student P agreed with this feedback but may not have noticed the lack of logical structure otherwise. Clarifying presentation. Clarification about the pre sentation of information, including semantics and sentence structure, wording, or interpretation of visual formatting made up 13 % of the feedback provided by coaches ( Figure 2 2) For example, Student N asked questions orilla habitat, wondering where the details and dimensions they had discussed were shown in the final design : sugge sted to Student D that he/she create their final presentation, a poster advocating for a reduction in noise pollution, to be in color rather than black and white in order to make the poster more appealing. Probing questions. Probing questions that pushe d students to extend thei r thinking also accounted for 13 % of the feedback provided ( Figure 2 2) Probing questions were noted to be higher level questions, asking students to consider further possibilities or implications of


57 information they learned rela ting to the personal learning goals. In an example, one probing question asked by Student J helped Student R uncover other factors that may impact sleep. When Student J asked, I s it different for like different ages of people, like do older people need need to be included in subsequent designs of the sleep tracking app. Student E consistently asked probing questions to extend thinking as Student S shared about global warming. While looking at a graph of global warming projections together, Student evels] would go in a couple of years that maybe we could like moment, but asking probing questions allowed him/her to gain insight into how the information gathered could be utilized t o develop into deeper explorations of their personal learning goal. Whether offering words of affirmation, clarifying confusion and soliciting further as the most integral and important component of peer coaching. Students utilized the coaching conversation to share their progress and gain insight from their coaching partner about how to improve their personalized learning projects. Conclusion The findings in th is chapter first revealed the challenges of establishing a routine for peer coaching within a fourth grade classroom. Whether determining scheduling, frequency, or the duration of coaching sessions, there seemed to be no universal formula that worked well for all students Similar findings regarding the coaching partnership were highlighted as a second


58 theme and suggested that peer coaching may best be developed through a combination of pairing methods. Finally, the practices of effective coaches were fu rther examined to reveal the need for a balance of positive and constructive feedback. In the next chapter, I will discuss conclusions that can be drawn from my research, as well as consider lingering questions. I will also share how I see my findings as being connected to the existing literature Finally, I will also address the implications for future study and reflect on how my research may impact my future practice.


59 CHAPTER 3 DISCUSSION The purpose of this study was to examine how a fourth grad e teacher and her students experience d and adapt ed to a peer coaching model. During the 2016 2017 school year, I implemented a model of peer coaching to help facilitate student centered learning opportunities within the personalized learning component of the curriculum. During this time, students engaged in interest based inquiry projects, working toward personal learning goals. Students then utilized peer coaching to share progress towards their goals and gain feedback about what they had done well (pra ises) and what information was missing or confusing (pushes). Over the course of six weeks, data were collected in the form of my researcher journal, student questionnaires, and video recordings of coaching sessions. The following questions guided this s tudy: 1. How can I develop a model of peer coaching within the personalized learning component of my curriculum? 2. How do students respond to the implementation of peer coaching during personalized learning? As I i mplemented a peer coaching model in my classroo m d ata analysis showed a few challenges, including time and finding effective coaching partnerships. Determining when coaching should occur (scheduling), how often partnerships should engage in coaching (frequency), and how long coaching sessions should last (duration) were all identified as matters of time that I needed to take into consi deration when planning for peer coaching In addition, learning was also a challenge I encountered. Further analysis of student coaching sessions revealed that students preferred to have a conversation about their projects when engaging in peer coaching. Students also indicated that while it was important for coaches to provide some positive praise, effective coaches needed to listen attentively, be honest, ask questions, and


60 provide feedback that was constructive. Specifically, feedback that clarified confusion or missing information and provided suggestions for next steps was considered the most beneficial The findings in this study highlight the potential for peer coaching within the elementary classroom to support student centered learning as reported by my students. As a result of interaction with their peers, my students were afforded the opportunity to make meaning of new knowledge through active conversations and reflection with one another as they worked toward their own personalized learning goals. In the remainder of this final chapter, I will begin by talking about connections between my findings and the litera ture on peer coaching. After this I will move into a discussion of the implications for both teachers and administrators as a result of my findings. I will then conclude the chapter by outlining the next steps I will take as an educator to improve my pra ctice both inside and outside the classroom. Contributions to the Literature While literature is abundant in regards to constructivist pedagogy and peer coaching with older populations, this study sought to unveil how peer coaching might impact student cen tered teaching and learning within an elementary setting. There is little research addressing the use of peer coaching with younger populations, particularly within elementary classrooms. The peer coaching structure I utilized for this study was adapted from the research of Ladyshewsky (2006), Parker, Hall, and Kram (2008), and Shams and Law (2012), which outlined comparable frameworks for peer coaching with adult populations that I amended to implement with my fourth grade class. Across the literature, successful peer coaching begins Dewey, 1916; Ladyshewsky, 2006; McCombs, 2001; Noddings, 2003; Parker, Hall, & Kram 2008; Richardson, 2003; Salinas & Garr 20 09; Shams & Law, 2012; Tomlinson, 2004;


61 Vygostsky, 1978). This first essential component was established through personalized learning, a district curriculum that provides students the opportunity to participate in self directed inquiry projects In this study, I discovered that peer coaching may support student learning, but my findings also corroborate the literature and outline that having a commitment to coaching, determining a structure for coaching in terms of time and practices, and providing feedback are also essential components for successful peer coaching (Ladyshewsky, 2006; Parker, Hall, & Kram 2008; Shams & Law, 2012). Additionally, I found that the process requires flexibility in relation to time and developin g coaching partnerships. My findings also revealed that implementing peer coaching at the elementary level may require explicit instruction on questioning and feedback is needed for elementary age children. Students Perceive That Peer Coaching Supports S tudent Learning The majority of my students (71.43%) felt engaging in peer coaching enhanced their personalized learning inquiry and helped them grow as learners by giving them a voice and affording access to responsive feedback as it was needed. Student s appreciated having the chance to both give and receive feedback with their peers, rather than relying on the teacher. By allowing students to take ownership and coach one another, there was a greater opportunity for new knowledge they were acquiring As students engaged in coaching, they were also provided with opportunities to collaboratively problem solve and determine the next steps toward reaching their personal learning goals as they shared their progress and provided feedback to one another about how their projects could be changed or improved These findings are supported i n literature by Cubukcu (2012) who posits that peer coaching helps to facilitate a student centered learning environment and holds the potential to help bridge the gap in the diverse educational needs by encourag ing opportunities for students to engage in curriculum that is relevant and


62 motivating (Cheung, 2004; Cubukcu, 2012; Dewey, 1916; McCombs, 2001; Noddings, 2003; Richardson, 2003; Salinas & Garr, 2009; Tomlinson, 2004; Vygostsky, 1978 ). Additionally, I obs erved growth toward independence and interdependence among my students as demonstrated in their ability to both provide and utilize feedback to guide future learning. Working together in peer coaching partnerships also aided in developing my reness of work habits and allotted time for them to be reflective about their progress toward meeting personal learning goals based on coaching feedback ( Ladyshewsky, 2006; Parker, Hall, & Kram 2008; Richardson, 2003; Shams & Law, 2012). Peer Coaching Requires Flexibility Embedded within the literature on student centered learning is the call for responsive instructional practices, whereby teachers plan for flexibility within their curriculum, groupings, and schedule to best meet the needs of their stu dents (Cubukcu, 2012; McCombs, 2001; Noddings, 2003; Richardson, 2003; Salinas & Garr, 2009; Tomlinson, 2004). Findings from this study support these ideas from the literature, but also suggest that flexible partnerships and flexible use of time are impera tive in order for peer coaching to aid in the facilitation of student centered learning opportunities, such as student inquiry, for elementary aged children. Flexible p artnerships. I found no magic formula for developing effective, collaborative coaching partnerships. In fact, I determined multiple factors, such as ability, interest, knowledge of the topic, and the relationship of students were all important considerations as my class worked to develop successful coaching partnerships ( Parker, Hall, & Kr am 2008). Within this study, I sampled a variety of grouping strategies, attending to the factors previously indicated, and upon analysis of the data, found students suggested a range of grouping strategies as well. While I observed that pairing student s with at level peers in regard to interest or ability to be most noticeably effective, my findings did not identify a consistently effective pairing strategy.


63 The overall inconsistency in being able to develop effective coaching partnerships suggests tha t perhaps flexible partnerships may be a proactive start. Allowing students the opportunity to ultimately help to facilitate more effective coaching (Ladyshewsk y, 2006; Shams & Law, 2012). Flexible u se of t ime The flexible use of time is well established across the literature on student centered learning (Cubukcu, 2012; Dewey, 1916; McCombs, 2001; Noddings, 2003; Richardson, 2003; Salinas & Garr, 2009; Tomlinso n, 2004) ; thus practices implemented to support and facilitate student centered learning within the elementary classroom, such as peer coaching, should also be provided flexibility within the schedule. With demands constantly imposed on the time of classroom schedules, the flexible use of time can present significant challenges when implementing peer coaching as a part of student centered learning. Ladyshewsky (2006) and Shams and Law (2012) posit that dedicating specific times for coaches to meet, provide feedback, and reflect is essential for building a commitment to coaching The findings of this study argue however, that priorit i zing times within the school day for students to work towards personal learning goals and engage in coaching wa s crucial but the logistics of Within this study, I utilized p eer coaching to help facilitate student centered learning and keep student work focused toward personal learning goals. Therefore, it wa s important to ensure that my students had enough time to work on thes e goals and to solicit feedback through coaching as it was needed. Due to the fact that students work at different paces as the result of their interests, background knowledge, and abil ity level, peer coaching was difficult to plan for with a blanket schedule. While establishing expectations for peer coaching may be beneficial to begin the process, I found that


64 they n eeded it was the most effective way to meet the coaching needs of the students within my classroom Another consideration should be the overall time commitment required to ensure students are able to adequately work towards their personal learning goals a nd engage in peer coaching (Salinas & Garr, 2009; Cubukcu, 2012). This study was an in depth analysis of how peer coaching developed over the course of six weeks, for three one hour blocks each week. Students were also provided approximately two addition al weeks prior to the start of this study to begin work towards their personal learning goals. For some students in this study, lack of time was a significant barrier to fully engaging in peer coaching. Peer Coaching May Call for Explicit Instruction on Questioning and Feedback Overwhelmingly, my students indicated that push feedback which included clarifying questions, probing questions to extend thinking, and suggestions for next steps had the greatest impact on their learning. Further, student s who felt peer coaching had little impact on their learning cited a lack of push feedback as the reason. These findings validate the essential skills needed to sustain effective peer coaching delineated in the literature of Ladyshewsky (2006) and Shams a nd Law (2012). In addition to engaging in reflective conversation, my students identified active listening, asking questions, and providing feedback to move learning forward as important skills for effective coaching, which corroborates the existing liter ature (Ladyshewksy, 2006; Parker, Hall, & Kram 2008; Shams & Law, 2012). I found that getting my students to ask questions and provid e useful feedback to one another was challenging I believe that much of the difficulty my students encountered when providing feedback at the start of this study was because they perceived asking questions and highlighting missing information as critical rather than constructive. As nine and ten year olds, they had little experience giving and receiving feedback intended to improve and extend


65 learning. This observation suggests that elementary classrooms may benefit from the structure of protocols to establish expectations for peer coaching, as recom mended by Ladyshewsky (2006). Explicit instruction on feedback and providing question stems and sentence starters for addressing missing information, supports progress towards personal learning goals, and next steps may also help to promote effective peer coaching (Hattie and Temperly, 2006). Implications for Practice The results of this study offer implications for practice for both teachers and administrators. In this section, I discuss how elementary educators like myself, as well as individuals in c harge of setting the tone and direction for teaching and learning at their schools can work to help support student centered practices such as peer coaching In addition, I argue the value of practitioner research and hope to instill the importance of af fording time for systematic inquiry as a form of professional development for teachers. Implications for Teachers My findings suggest that peer coaching may support student learning b y helping to facilitate student driven, personalized learning. In moving away from teacher centered practices by student interest, learning became more relevant and engaging (Cubukcu, 2012; Dewey, 1916; Ladyshewsky, 2006; McCombs, 20 01; Noddings, 2003; Parker, Hall, & Kram 2008; Richardson, 2003; Salinas & Garr 2009; Shams & Law, 2012; Tomlinson, 2004; Vygostsky, 1978). Peer coaching was implemented during this study to facilitate personalized learning ( inquiry projects targeting s ) but my find ings suggest that peer coaching may have similar outcomes when applied to other curriculum as well. Utilizing peer coaching throughout the day to help facilitate differentiated, student centered learning in readin g, writing, and mathematics may also support student learning. In addition, giving consideration to


66 groupings within the classroom can be explored to find partnerships and groups that may maximize the benefit of peer coaching. Application o utside p ersonal ized l earning. Prior to the beginning of this study, I introduced to my students the practices of providing constructive feedback through writing. To do this, I modeled editing and collaborated with my students to demonstrate what subject specific praise and push feedback might look like. In the post questionnaire, several students suggested utilizing peer coaching throughout the school day as they worked on targeted, individualized learning goals in the core subjects of reading, writing, and math. This demonstrated that several of my students found value in the skills they learned as a part of the peer coaching process and may indicate that I, as well as other teachers, can work to facilitate transfer of the skills needed for peer coaching to other area s of the curriculum. Exploring f lexible g roupings. My findings indicate that designating a fixed partnership may not be beneficial, but rather groupings can change or be explored prior to the full implementation of a peer coaching model within the classroom in order to maximize the perceived benefits of co aching on student learning. Teachers may need to explore partnerships based on ability, interest, background knowledge, personality, and personal relationships among students, as these are all factors that may impact the coaching partnerships and subseque nt learning experiences the students gain from peer coaching. Scheduling While challenges of time were significant in my findings, I offer that peer coaching can be utilized with less structure than originally planned for within this study. Peer coachin g holds potential as a process to help facilitate student centered learning within the classroom. If embedded within the curriculum throughout the school day, as suggested previously, peer coaching might become a more organic and natural part of the class room


67 structure for teaching and learning. In this regard, time for peer coaching will not take away from the core curriculum, but rather peer coaching can become one method for differentiating the core curriculum as students work together to reach persona l learning goals connected to reading, writing, and math. Practitioner Research. This study validates the need for practitioner research amongst teachers. Had I not engaged in a process of systematic data analysis, rather than simply reflecting on my tea ching practices, I would not have seen the true picture of what happened with my students as they engaged in peer coaching. There is great value in digger deeper into the data. M y own reflections throughout my researcher journal highlighted frustration a s I observed students engage in coaching, however through closer examination of student questionnaires and video transcriptions, I discovered a wealth of information within their interactions and thinking that illuminated the potential of peer coaching tha t was not observed as I circulated the classroom engaged in the daily work of teaching The process of practitioner research allowed for a more comprehensive understanding of how peer coaching developed within my classroom, as well as how my students res ponded. Implications for Administrators A key finding from this study was the need for flexibility within the classroom in order to make student centered teaching and learning practices, such as peer coaching, possible. Therefore, administrators working to support student centeredness within the classroom may consider the need for freedom in terms of scheduling both throughout the school day and when planning the implementation of the curriculum throughout the school year. As a result of initiatives such as No Child Left Behind, many schools have adopted rigid instructional programs that require everything from detailed classroom lesson schedules to scripted lessons. My findings suggest however, that administrators who seek to establish student centered


68 learning experiences within their classrooms also must allow teachers a degree of autonomy to adequately meet the needs of their students through responsive teaching. Additionally, administrators should be tolerant of adjustments in pacing and the flexib le use of time in meeting standards and objectives across classrooms. Next Steps The results of this study implore me as a practitioner researcher to further investigate some of the lingering questions and implications discussed throughout my inquiry. T he next steps discussed below will outline how I plan to utilize my findings within my own classroom and share them with my colleagues to encourage student centered teaching practices, such as peer coaching, within other classrooms. Building Peer Coachin g into the Daily Routine To further examine how peer coaching may impact teaching and learning within the classroom, I plan to build peer coaching into the daily routine of my core curriculum, such as reading, writing, and math. Throughout this study, I f ound that peer coaching was best implemented when it was responsive to the individual needs of my students. Rather than isolating peer coaching as a practice used during independent research projects, I hope to utilize peer coaching whereby students are working with one another to gain new skills, help to as a process throughout the school day to supplement and extend our core curriculum. I will begin by providing instruction for subject specific feedback during writing, followed by gradually scaffolded opportunities for peer coaching as students work on self selected learning goals in reading. In this way, I plan to explore how students can engage with one another to help facilitate purposeful d ifferentiated, student centered reading experiences outside of the traditional mini lessons and small group work with the teacher required by the curriculum.


69 Facilitating a Teacher Inquiry Group Another step for future practice involves sharing my findin gs with a group of like minded colleagues to further explore how peer coaching, or similar models for student centered teaching and learning, can impact our classrooms. Through engagement in an inquiry group, I will have the ability to collaborate with fe llow educators and examine collectively how peer coaching can impact learning throughout the school day in various settings. My hope in establishing an inquiry group to further investigate how peer coaching can be used in elementary classrooms is two fold First, I would like to help other teachers within my school community discover new practices that can facilitate student centered teaching and learning in their classrooms. I also believe that gaining insight and learning fresh ideas from other teacher s regarding how they implement and utilize peer coaching in their classrooms will benefit my own practice immensely. Collaboration with a team working toward the same goal can support professional growth as we share and analyze our practices and the outco mes we see with students. Conclusion This study revealed that peer coaching holds the potential to facilitate student learning. The implementation of a peer coaching model worked to develop a student centered classroom by providing access to learning experiences guided by interest and responsive ness to my ; however flexibility regarding time and groupings was essential. In addition, peer coaching required explicit instruction in questioning and providing constructive feedback, particularly when working with elementary aged students. While this study investigated the eption of the impact peer coaching had on their leaning, it is important to remember that peer coaching is intended as one process utilized to help develop a student centered environment.


70 Through deeper examination of my instruction, what was happening w ithin my classroom, and how my students engaged with one another, I was able to identify that many of the challenges related to peer coaching were structural and related to my role as the teacher when to provide time for coaching and independent inquiry and how to group students for effective coaching. I also discovered that there is great power in trusting my students enough to allow them to take ownership of their learning. As I analyzed the data from their post questionnaires and coaching videos, the feedback provided by my students and the dialogue between coaching partners demonstrated incredible insight and significant growth over six weeks. As a teacher, it was inspiring to witness my students becoming more aware of their strengths and needs as l earners, and it showed me how capable my fourth graders were at managing their own time in order to meet their personal learning goals I also found my ies to think critically and respond constructively in coaching sessions meaningful as i t created an environment for learning that was student centered, purposeful, motivating, and self directed. her explore how I can utilize peer coaching in various contexts throughout the school day to help facilitate more student centered teaching and learning experiences.


71 APPENDIX A SAMPLE OF RESEARCHER JOURNAL This is a sample of the researcher journal entries, pages 2 3. 4/18/17 RQ #1 How do I get them started? What the v alue here? Potential? How have we used it? How do I determine if it was beneficial or impactful? front, meeting not es inside cover (or reflection?). week due to availability of tech (still hour blocks) GOALS Discuss that goals do not need to be unrelated to what we are learning. Some of us may be our yets, or things we want to work on to get better at (ex. handwriting, a dding decimals). Start by looking at an old inquiry for some bk [background knowledge] and reference SPECIFIC remind students that goals should have a measurable or clear outcome. How will you know you have met it? Consider SMART goals? Long term? Prov ide background on other areas we have utilized goal setting (literacy what does that look like?) Small checkpoints for coaching partners A goal is not a question (see student sheets) What questions will you need to a Start thinking about feedback check folder and comment in week one (model praise and push); week two start peer coaching Post lesson Let me start by saying this process is MESSY. Today I explained to my kids that this is a new students and I certainly need to dig deeper into what happened before these last two months at school. I try to be structured, but I just end up cramped for tim e always so despite my best Start thinking about phasing in reflection (directly tied to PL/coach)


72 General P/P/Q? [praise, push, question structure ] 4/18/17 RQ #2 Some interesting questions/goals kicked up wants to somehow make them smaller to get the bad stuff out. W as watching a video about atoms, but had no idea what an embryo is. Maybe a place to start? Student Q has a narrow concept of how the human race may become extinct. Is this holistically an appropriate topic? help. Could Student S b different types of coding? Do they understand what coding can be used for? What is the motivation? Potential? Student R sleep, do we need it? Can we go with less? Asked why we would wan t less? What are the benefits? (Response Student I to write new myths Student H


73 4/25/17 RQ #1 to facilitate coaching and feedback on Friday) Several students are challenged by documenting the process recorded as they research Partnerships seems to be emerging in a couple of way s 1. By topic (Student P/Student Q; Student B/NP; Student T/Student U; Student L/Student M) Some students are still challenged by not sharing every piece of new information with their partner 4/25/17 RQ #2 Student E is getting contradictory information and needs guidance on safe searches (possible coaching topic) Met with Student G and Student M and provided feedback Gener ally, both need to dig MUCH deeper into specifics about what they hope to do. I asked Student M some probing questions about the dimensions and specific elements of the new zoo habitat he/she was designing Students are not recording resources (need instruction on creating a bibliography) Some of my students are collaborating on writing/reading goals together give one another feedback, etc. Worth exploring?


74 APPENDIX B PRE QUESTIONNAIRE 1. How would you describe your role in deciding what you learn in school? (Select one) I am able to decide what I want to learn all of the time I am able to decide what I want to learn most of the time I am able to decide what I want to learn some of the time I am never able to decide what I want to learn. 2. What subjects or activities do you feel you h ave the most influence or choice when deciding what you want to learn? Be specific. ___________________________________________________________________________ ___________________________________________________________________________ ___________________________________________________________________________ 3. How would you explain peer coaching ? (What is peer coaching ? How do we use it in our classroom?) ___________________________________________________________ ________________ ___________________________________________________________________________ ___________________________________________________________________________ 4. What is personalized learning ? Explain how you have done personali zed learning in the past. ___________________________________________________________________________ ___________________________________________________________________________ ____________________________________________________________ _______________ 5. In your opinion, did personalized learning help you grow as a learner? Yes No


75 6. What parts of personalized learning helped you grow as a learner? ___________________________________________________________________________ ___________________________________________________________________________ ___________________________________________________________________________ 7. What d id you enjoy most about personalized learning ? ___________________________________________________________________________ ___________________________________________________________________________ _______________________________________ ____________________________________ 8. What parts of personalized learning were difficult? ___________________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________________ ___ ___________________________________________________________________________ 9. How would you change personalized learning if you had the chance? ___________________________________________________________________________ ___________________________________________________________________________ ___________________________________________________________________________ 10. What are some of the topics or projects you completed for personalized learning in the past? ___________________________________________________________________________ ___________________________________________________________________________ 11. Identify a goal or two you have for yourself, either academically or personally. What do you still want to learn, do, or understand? What big wonderings do you have? ___________________________________________________________________________ _________________________________________ __________________________________


76 APPENDIX C REFLECTIVE EXIT SLIP 1. There was the r ight amount of time to share. Yes No 2. I knew what I was supposed to do. Yes No 3. I had enoug h time to give/get feedback. Yes No 4. Coaching helped me get an idea of what to do next. Yes No Additional Comments:


77 APPENDIX D POST QUESTIONNAIRE 1. How would you describe your role in deciding what you learn in school? (Select one) I am able to decide what I want to learn all of the time I a m able to decide what I want to learn most of the time I am able to decide what I want to learn some of the time I am never able to decide what I want to learn. 2. How would you explain peer coaching ? What is peer coaching? How do we use i t in our classroom? ___________________________________________________________________________ ___________________________________________________________________________ __________________________________________________________________ _________ 3. In your opinion, did peer coaching help you grow as a learner during personalized learning ? Yes No 4. What parts of peer coaching helped you grow as a learner? What did you enjoy? ___________________________________________________________________________ ___________________________________________________________________________ ___________________________________________________________________________ 5. What c haracteristics make for a good peer coaching partner? (What should good coaches do?) ___________________________________________________________________________ ___________________________________________________________________________ __ _________________________________________________________________________


78 6. What parts of peer coaching were difficult? ___________________________________________________________________________ __________________________________________ _________________________________ ___________________________________________________________________________ 7. How did having a peer coach change the experience for personalized learning this year? Explain. ___________________________________________________________________________ ___________________________________________________________________________ ___________________________________________________________________________ 8. What would you suggest we change about peer coaching for next time? ___________________________________________________________________________ ___________________________________________________________________________ ________________________ ___________________________________________________ 9. THINK CREATIVELY How else do you think we could use peer coaching in our classroom? When might we use peer coaching? How would your coaching partner be selected? How often would you meet with your coaching partner? ___________________________________________________________________________ ___________________________________________________________________________ ___________________________________________________________________________ ___________________________________________________________________________


79 APPENDIX E EXCERPTS OF CODING Below are excerpts of coding across post questionnaire responses t hat exemplify the theme of challenges of time 6. What parts of peer coaching were difficult? Student Code Student A Student C The parts of peer coaching that are difficult are when you have no questions so you Student D Everything was pretty easy. Student E When the partner did not give enough feedback and questions. Student I coaching myself. coaching, so I never really got together with my partner except for her project. (schedule, structure, duration) Student J When you filled out the sheet for how good your partner thing, that was hard because your Student K Telling a friend they might have made a mistake or two. Student L Finding what other peo ple needed to do better. Student M Knowing when you should meet and when you should not ( scheduling, duration) Student N The parts of peer coaching that were difficult is getting clear feedback. I got a lot of feedback, but some of it was either unclear or not useful. Student O What is difficult is that if your peer coach thinks differently, it will be hard Student P Finding good things to help your partner with (infor, Q/A). Student Q When your partner had such a good to give them. Student R Peer coaching was difficult sometimes especially at the end of the year when I was trying to finish and peer coaching took up a lot of time. (lack of time to complete own work)


80 8. What would you suggest we change about peer coaching for next time? Student Code Student A Maybe have more than 1 coach so if 1 coach misses something important the other can ask Student C There would be time 1 a week to meet with your coach. (scheduling) Student D Meeting more often if you need some advice (scheduling) Student E Maybe the coach could have the total opposite idea so you can share your opinion with one another Student I There would be a set time for getting together and we w ould choose our partners and you would make sure it was okay. (scheduling) Student J To have 2 partners to get a second opinion. Better sheet to fill out. Student K I felt bad. (lack of time to complete own work) Student L We would have more time then we did the year because it was hard to cram everything in. (scheduling, duration, frequency) Student M Nothing I like it as it is. Student N I think that we should change how often we got peer coaching so we can also have time for our project. (frequency) Student O I suggest that we have partners that we work well with. Student P Nothing, it was nice and easy to do. Student Q I think you should keep it the same next year and see how it goes. Student R so long. (duration)


81 APPENDIX F SAMPLE VIDEO TRANSCRIPTION Coaching Session for Student A and Student N on 5/12/17 Total Time 7:08 Coach Student N (Student A sharing and seeking feedback) N: Okay, so first you need to tell me about your presentation. What did you make? 0:05 A: I made a new gorilla habitat and it was I was sort of focusing on like what the gorillas have in their h abitat because at some of the other zoos you have like they have they're actually in a really small place and I went on Google on images of gorillas habitats in the wild and it was completely different from what they have in zoos and there's like we use ev erywhere there's some water so I thought that it's not it's not that fair to the gorillas. 0:50 N: What was your focus on like what were you focusing on to make your presentation about like I get you're trying to make a habitat but were you focusing on li ke the whole habitat were you focusing on just a part of the habitat? 1:05 A: I was trying to focus on the whole area but I sometimes went over like here and there and just added some little details. 1:28 (Student N taking notes) N: What else do you h ave to say, like what are like all these for like what is this one? A: This is just this is sort of like your background dish and it's like ground and I was thinking N: Could you have lik e drawn that? 1:55 A: Yea, I tried to do that here. 1:59 N: Like you know what they eat right? 2:02 A: Yea, they eat shoots um fruits and stems of bamboo shoots so, yeah and I also just thought like I sorta wanted to give you for you to give me some fee dback cuz I don't know do feel like I'm missing anything? 2:31 N: I think you're kind of missing like like I like how you did it on Google Docs but I think it would be easier on paperlike if you added the things on Google Docs because it would maybe be easier to figure out like the size and all the things because you're kind of missing like the gorillas kind of, and like some of their food and like what's surrounding it or like the size of it. 3:03


82 A: N: No like you like you should like add maybe like some more things like maybe like, what do they like to do? Do they like to climb trees? Do they like to play? 3:15 A: They like to climb a lot. N: So maybe you could make a lot of climbing places. 3:21 A: Yes I should have some trees over here in the background they can maybe try and climb but I should do you think I should add more things to climb? N: Or kind of makes them more of the big picture because these are kind of like gray and they're not really in the big picture but some of the other things like leaves who are in the big picture of it all. 3:44 A: 3:48 [Laughing] 3:51 N: I have some que stions 3:54 A: yeah N: Okay so one of my questions is since you focused on the whole habitat was there anything that you kept from the old habitat or did you keep, like did you keep everything or did you just make it brand new? 4:10 A: I basically jus t started off as scratch so nothing. I tried to incorporate a few of the things but not there's basically nothing from... 4:26 N: So kinda like the, I guess big picture you started with but you start from scratch we like all the objects that would be in i t or like that the scenery. 4:35 A: yeah N: Also is there any like background or building behind there or is it just like a fenced off area? A: It would probably be in a building. 4:48 N: So would it go out to the outside or will it just be inside? 4:50 A: draw open up another Google Docs and draw the outside area. 5:03


83 N: okay [student writing] Then my other question is do you know the size of it like do you know the perimeter and area? A: No N: You might want to add that because that's what I got it but it doesn't have to be like a big thing but maybe like just like your Google Docs maybe like add I want it to be like 7 feet by 9 feet in the area wo uld be and the area would be black water you know? 5:33 A: yeah N: So kind of just so if you're actually s howing it to somebody they get the size that maybe you w ant it to be because on here it makes it look smaller and like you probably just want somet hing for them to notice the big picture. A: Yeah, so I think I got a lot of information there. N: So my feedback for you is to try to add like more of their food or more of their like habitat in it because you kind of know the main thing, but maybe some of the accessories are like how do I say unique parts of it, like things that you don't usually find at a zoo or at like a random like are at like outside like if you walk outside what do you not see that a gorilla has maybe something like that. 6:24 A: Ok, I remember all this stuff N: [writing notes] and then so... 6:41 A: Yeah I don't really I don't really think there's anything the else you give you a lot of feedback and I think what you. 6:51 N: I think what you need to focus on is adding some mor e accessories because you kind of got the big things down but not the little things that's really all. A: okay


84 APPENDIX G SAMPLES OF VIDEO TRANSCRIPTION ANALYSIS Date Peer Coaching Team Duration Observations 5/12 Student A & Student N 7:08 Student A sharing and seeking feedback/ Student N coaching Student N asked questions as Student A shared (back/forth) Student N takes notes as Student A shares Student N also records questions asked of Student A Student N recaps feedback and thinking at the end of session


85 APPENDIX H PEER COACHING FEEDBACK FORM Name : ____________________ __ Coaching Partne r _____ __ __________________ Date : ___ __ _______ Peer Coaching Feedback Form Today is coaching day! Remember, when you meet with your part ner, you are working to improve feedback, not researching together. As your coaching partner explains their progress towards their goal, think about the fo llowing things: Do they have a clear goal? What is it? What progress are they making? o What is unclear? o What is confusing? o What information are they missing? o Have they documented their learning and thinking? o What resources are they using? Are they recorded? o Are they on track to finish before the end of May? What should they do next?


86 Praise I liked... because ... I was really interested when Your _____ was really strong. Push I was a little confused Could you explain what you Have you thought about I think you need more Some questi


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90 BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH Corinne M. Duffy graduated from the University of Florida in 2004 with a Bachelo r of Science in psychology and a minor in health education. After a few years working in the non profit sector, collaborating with community partners on health education initiatives in local schools, she decided to pursue a degree in education. Corinne earned her Master of Education fr om DePaul Univers ity in 2007. She began her career in education as a s cience teacher in a charter school in the city of Chicago, and after four years, she started a new journey as an upper elementary teacher in the northern suburbs. Corinne has been an elementary educato r for eleven years, and through the work on her doctorate in curriculum and instruction, she has become reinvigorated in her love and purpose for teaching. Corinne earned her Doctor of Education from the University of Florida in 2018.