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.
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.
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
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