Academic Coaches

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Academic Coaches may be funded through the use of Title II or RLIS funds for the purpose of providing embedded support to teachers engaged in high quality professional development as defined by NCLB. A preponderance of research in education as well as business shows that while adults are exposed to new ideas and practices in workshop settings and team meetings, they need on-the-job support to make the new ideas part of their daily routines (Joyce & Calhoun, 1996; Joyce & Showers, 2002). In evaluating this evidence, Odden et al. (2007) conclude that states reap greater benefits in terms of student achievement when they invest in classroom-based coaches as opposed to more costly and less effective innovations, including smaller class size or full-day kindergarten.

The research is clear on the link between coaching teacher teams and increased student learning. Many school districts that do not already have coaches in place are exploring how coaching fits into their required staff development plans and how to be creative with the budget to afford the services of a coach. Schools and districts that already use coaching as embedded professional learning and support for school teams and individual educators are considering how to support coaches and provide opportunities for their continued professional learning.

Percent of participants who demonstrate knowledge, demonstrate new skills in a training setting and use new skills in the classroom
Research on Outcomes of Training with and without Follow-up Coaching. Joyce and Showers 2002.
Training Components Knowledge Skill Demonstration Use in the Classroom
Theory and discussion 10% 5% 0%
Demonstration in training 30% 20% 0%
Practice and feedback in Training 60% 60% 5%
Coaching in the classroom 95% 95% 95%

Is Coaching Worth the Investment?

With the downturn in the economy, shouldn’t districts and schools cut back on professional development? In the business sector, the median cost of coaching is $500 per hour (Mirza, 2009), but in the education sector, the cost of coaching is quite reasonable. The question is: What will it cost in the long run not to include coaching in your cohesive support system? The return on investment for coaching means that your valuable professional development dollars achieve desired results. Remember, with coaching added to theory and practice, teachers actually make desired changes in their behaviors and transfer their learning into practice at the rate of 80 – 90% (Joyce and Showers, 1982; Knight, 2008). The Society For Human Resource Management (Mirza, 2009) notes, “What you really need to do in a recession is to take the opportunity to change people’s behaviors so that they’re helping you when you’re in it and they’re better (performers) when you come out of it.” Because education is a teaching and learning business, coaching makes sense. As Zepeda asserts (2008), “Coaching situates teachers at the center of their own learning. Coaching in any form breaks the isolation found in most Pre-K-12 schools and promotes collegiality.

Coaching supports teachers as they implement new strategies and amplifies the benefits of other forms of professional development.” In other words, coaching provides an enormous “return on investment,” helping new teachers adopt desired behaviors, increasing the likelihood of teacher retention and guiding development from novices to accomplished teachers capable of making a positive difference in student learning. Without a doubt, both mentoring and coaching, along with other types of focused and sustained professional learning, are essential components of a comprehensive system of support to develop and retain teachers. Coaching refers to the relationship between a teacher or team of teachers and a coach, supported by a school leader, that results in improved job performance, as well as the fulfillment of individual improvement goals. Research supports the effectiveness of coaching in helping educators transfer training into practice. Thus, coaching offers a tremendous “return on investment” for schools and districts serious about supporting new teachers in becoming accomplished educators who are equipped to increase student learning.

Why Coaching?

The seminal research of Beverly Showers and Bruce Joyce (1982) examined the factors that lead to implementation of training. Their results showed a clear connection between the type of training and the impact of that training. Theory alone led to a 5 – 10% transfer in the classroom, while adding practice to theory upped application to 10 – 15%. However, with the addition of coaching to theory and practice, the implementation of training shot up to 80 – 90%. Initial studies by Showers and Joyce were conducted in the early 80s, so how applicable are their results in today’s complex classrooms? Knight and Cornett (2008) recently conducted a study of instructional coaching with 51 teachers randomly assigned to receive coaching or not. “In classes taught by teachers who were coached, observers saw evidence of use of the unit organizer during 90% of their visits. However, in classes taught by teachers who were not coached, observers saw evidence of use of the unit organizer in only 30% of the classes” (qtd in Knight, Winter 2009). Coaching makes a definable difference in the ability of individuals to transfer learning into daily practice.

For more information, please visit the Coaching for Learning website.

Framework for Induction

  • A comprehensive tiered system of support that includes:
    • induction for the initial and intermediate progressions customized and adapted to county and school contexts;
    • access to opportunities for professional development related to induction that are aligned to identified needs;
    • a focus on topics including but not limited to classroom management, policy and procedure, instructional strategies, content, and professional responsibilities;
    • access to a team of professionals that may include mentors as well as other educators, e.g., content specialists, academic coaches, members of a professional learning community;
    • coordinates support for educators, e.g., mentors, who deliver induction services;
    • accountability and continuous improvement with data collection on impact and perceptions of effective implementation by the state, county and schools.
  • Clear guidelines for educators providing induction that include:
    • selection based on mastery of teaching
    • demonstrated ability to work well with adults
    • continuously recalibrated for effectiveness
    • manageable caseload
    • specific content and programmatic level
    • supports accomplished performance consistent with the revised evaluation system
  • Articulated expectations for state, county and schools that align:
    • WVDE
      • makes resources available for communication;
      • partners with others to provide professional development;
      • develops policy, e.g., who receives support whether based on experience or assignment;
      • provides access to possible models and best practices for a variety of counties;
      • allocates designated resources for effective implementation;
      • reviews county plan and/or policy;
      • evaluates system
    • CPD
      • provides mentor training;
      • conducts Beginning Teacher Academy;
      • collaborates with counties
    • RESAs
      • make resources available for communication;
      • partner with others to provide professional development
    • County
      • develops a plan for teacher induction and support;
      • develop a pool of trained educators that may include mentors who hold the advanced credential to deliver support through induction;
      • monitors and evaluates induction effectiveness;
      • supports flexible, varied professional development identified by educators, e.g., by mentors and mentees, through a data-driven process;
      • allocates time for meaningful interaction, e.g., conferences, observations, co-teaching;
      • develops budget and disburse funds;
      • conducts new teacher orientation
    • School
      • allocates time and resources for meaningful interaction, e.g., conferences, observations, co-teaching, substitutes
      • demonstrates administrator leadership
      • provides school-based orientation
      • supports the county induction program
      • incorporates induction into five-year strategic plan.

Further Reading

  • The National Staff Development Council’s Policy Points about coaching as key to effective professional development
  • Barkley, S. G. (2005). Quality Teaching in a Culture of Coaching. Lanham, MD: Scarecrow Education.
  • Fournies, F. F. (2000). Coaching for Improved Work Performance. New York: McGraw-Hill.
  • Hargrove, R. (2003). Masterful Coaching, Revised Edition. SanFrancisco: Jossey-Bass/Pfeiffer.
  • Hill, D., and Payne, P. (2008). Coaching Task Force (in process at the time of this writing). Atlanta: Georgia Professional Standards Commission.
  • Joyce, B., and Showers, B. (1982). “The Coaching of Teaching”. Educational Leadership, 40(1).
  • Knight, J. (Winter 2009). “Coaching”. Journal of Staff Development, 30(1).
  • Knight, J. (April 2006). “Instructional Coaching”. The School Administrator.
  • Mirza, B. (2009). “Organizational Change Starts With Individual Employees”. SHRM’s 2009 HR Trend
  • Book. Society for Human Resource Management. Retrieved January 2 at http://www.shrm.org/hrmagazine/09trendbook/Page, D., and Hulme, G. with Payne, P. (2005).
  • Leadership Preparation Performance Coaching. Georgia Leadership Institute for School Improvement. Information retrieved on January 2, 2009 at glisi.org.
  • Steiner, L., and Kowal, J. (2007). Instructional Coaching. Retrieved on January 2 at http://www.readingrockets.org/article/25980?theme=print
  • Zepeda, S. (2008). Professional Development: What Works. A joint publication of Eye on Education (Larchmont, NY) and the National Staff Development Council (Oxford, OH).

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