Yeatman, A. (2007). Postmodernity and revisioning the political. In Lingard, B. & Ozga, J. (Eds.). The RoutledgeFalmer reader in educational policy and politics. New York: Routledge, pp. 11-22.
Change – Complex, multifaceted and unpredictable:
The change process is often non-linear and discontinuous, appearing or being experienced as a set of discoveries or epiphanies (Boyatzis, 2006, p. 608).
Coaching – Many models exist. For example, GROW models of coaching recommend the attainment of performance goals or specific, measurable targets as a means of sustaining effective improvements. These strategies harness behavioural psychology and emotional intelligence theories (Hay Group, 2013; Whitmore, 2009).
Coaching is also deemed a resonant leadership style which assists employees to improve their performance, leads to highly positive outcomes, and “connects what a person wants with the organization’s goals” (Goleman, Boyatzis & McKee, 2002, p. 70).
Since leaders in any workplace are expected to be effective at motivating staff and enhancing performance, developing coaching skills is also valued as a means of facilitating individual growth and, by association, achieving organisational change (Fullan, 2009; Grant, 2010).
Cognitive coaching –
a nonjudgmental process of mediation applied to those human life encounters, events, and circumstances that can be seized as opportunities to enhance one’s own and another’s resourcefulness (Costa & Garmston, 2002, p. 29).
Double-loop learning – Seeking change within an uncertain system demands attendance to context variables in order to learn how adjustments cause “ripples of change to fan out” (Argyris & Schon, 1974, p.19). Double-loop learning occurs when errors are detected and corrected through
modification of an organization’s underlying norms, policies and objectives (Smith, 2013, para 18).
Espoused theory – theory of action applying to a situation which would usually be communicated verbally as a sign of allegiance; often marked by contrast to theory in use (Argyris & Schon, 1974).
Feedback – A crucial element in the learning process, quality feedback for teachers improves effectiveness and enhances professional growth (Feeney 2007); feedback is also “an important correlate of student achievement” (Hattie, 2009. p. 4). The feedback process is an example of double-loop learning where the most important feature of effective teaching is established as creating
situations in classrooms for the teachers to receive more feedback about their teaching – and then the ripple effect back to the student was high (Hattie & Timperley cited in Hattie, 2009, p. 12).
GERM – the Global Education Reform Movement has evolved through shared assumptions, and an increased emphasis on sharing policies and practices driven by international interests “through their interventions in national education reforms and policy-making processes” (Sahlberg, 2011, p. 99).
Performance and development – Endorsed national framework designed to create “a culture of teacher quality, feedback and growth for all teachers within all schools” (AITSL, 2014, para 1).
Performativity – A new mode of state regulation in which management of performance is enacted as both a divisive means and end in a reform process which re-centralises power in a culture of performativity (Ball, 2003).
Performativity is a technology, a culture and a mode of regulation that employs judgements, comparisons and displays as means of incentive, control, attrition and change based on rewards and sanctions (both material and symbolic) (Ball, 2003, p. 216).
Professional development – practices which are deemed worthy of seeking out for learning purposes, but which are also criticised for their failure to produce “little impact on improved student learning” (Cole, 2004, p. 2).
Professional learning community – Emerged as a term to describe collaborative processes in the 1990s yet, when superficial, criticised for failure to build or develop “deep change in the cultures of their schools or their district” (Hargreaves & Fullan, 2012, p. 129).
Through realignment with passions and visionary purpose, change agendas as distinct from mandates will generate a more inspiring sense of pull (Hargreaves & Fullan, 2012).
Quality teaching – Rather than a prescribed list of professional attributes, quality teaching is conceived as problematic, and definitions of professional identity – what counts as outcomes, and how to measure them – is patently a site for struggle (Ozga, 2000; Sachs, 2001).
Reflective practice – Cyclic process of review where
personal reflection on one’s own experience is a relevant and important method for improving subsequent action and building a repertoire of professional knowledge (Lipton, 1993, p. 4).
According to Schon, the reflective practitioner operates spontaneously in everyday life, thus attending both to actions and feedback loops which is termed knowing-in-action (Schon, 1983, p.49).
Theory of action – “a set of rules that individuals use to design and implement their own behavior as well as to understand the behavior of others” (Argyris, 1991, p. 103).
Theory in use – Beliefs which “govern actual behaviour and tend to be tacit structures” (Smith, 2001, 2013, para 9).
Trust –Fundamental necessity for authentic social relationships; essential to the development of collaborative processes required to sustain professional learning communities. Paradoxically, trust is eroded within rigid system structures which undermine professionalism by privileging flexibility (Bottery, 2003).
AITSL. (2014). Australian teacher performance and development framework. Retrieved March 14, 2015 http://www.aitsl.edu.au/professional-growth/australian-teacher-performance-and-development-framework
Argyris, C. (1991). Teaching smart people how to learn. Harvard Business Review, 69(3), p.99-109. Retrieved http://www.onesearch.uwa.edu.au March 14, 2015.
Argyris, C. & Schon, D. (1974). Theory in practice: Increasing professional effectiveness. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass Publishers.
Ball, S.J. (2003). The teacher’s soul and the terrors of performativity. Journal of Education Policy, 18(2), pp. 215-228. Retrieved March 14, 2015 https://my.cityofglasgowcollege.ac.uk/portfolio/artefact/file/download.php?file=117979&view=20699
Bottery, M. (2003). The management and mismanagement of trust. Educational Management Administration & Leadership 31(3), pp. 245-261. Retrieved July 21, 2014 http://ema.sagepub.com/content/31/3/245
Boyatzis, R.E. (2006). An overview of intentional change from a complexity perspective. The Journal of Management Development, 25(7), pp. 607-623.
Cole, P. (2004). Professional development: A great way to avoid change. Melbourne: IARTV Seminar Series No. 140. Retrieved July 27, 2014 http://www.aitsl.edu.au/docs/default-source/default-document-library/professional_development_a_great_way_to_avoid_change_-_pcole_2004_iartv
Costa, A.L. & Garmston, R.J. (2002). Cognitive coaching: A foundation for renaissance schools. Victoria, Australia: Hawker, Brownlow Education.
Feeney, E. (2007). Quality feedback: The essential ingredient for teacher success. The Clearing House: A Journal of Educational Strategies, Issues and Ideas, 80(4), pp. 191-198.
Fullan, M. (2009). The challenge of change: Start school improvement now! Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin.
Goleman, D., Boyatis, R. & McKee, A. (2002). Primal leadership: Realizing the power of emotional intelligence. Boston: Harvard Business School Press.
Grant, A.M. (2010). It takes time: A stages of change perspective on the adoption of workplace coaching skills. Journal of Change Management, 10(1), pp.61-77.
Hargreaves. A. & Fullan, M. (2012). Professional capital: Transforming teaching in every school. New York: Teachers College Press.
Hattie, J. (2009). Visible learning: A synthesis of over 800 meta-analyses relating to achievement. London and New York: Routledge.
Hay Group. (2013). Coaching environmental scan: summary of selected literature, models and current practices Retrieved January 22, 2015 http://www.aitsl.edu.au/school-leadership-ecollection/search-the-school-leadership-ecollection/detail/?id=literature-review-and-environmental-scan—coaching-summary-of-selected-literature-models-and-current-practices
Lipton, L. (1993). Transforming information into knowledge: Structured reflection in administrative practice. Paper presented at the annual meeting of the American Educational Research association, Atlanta, GA. Retrieved February 20, 2015 http://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/ED361903.pdf
Ozga, J. (2000). Policy research in educational settings: Contested terrain. Buckingham: Open University Press.
Sachs, J. (2001). Teacher professional identity: Competing discourses, competing outcomes, Journal of Educational Policy, 16(2), pp. 149-161. Retrieved August 16, 2014 http://www.onesearch.uwa.edu.au
Sahlberg, P. (2011). Finnish lessons: What can the world learn from educational change in Finland? New York: Teachers College Press.
Schon, D.A. (1983). The reflective practitioner: How professionals think in action. New York: Basic Books.
Smith, M. K. (2013). Chris Argyris: theories of action, double-loop learning and organizational learning. The Encyclopedia of Informal Education. Retrieved March 14, 2015 http://infed.org/mobi/chris-argyris-theories-of-action-double-loop-learning-and-organizational-learning/
Whitmore, J. (2009). Coaching for performance: GROWing human potential and purpose (4th Ed.). London, Boston: Nicholas Brealey Publishing.
What is needed then is a method for realising potential, for enabling people to perform at their very best (Somers, 2007, p. 2).
The aim of this study is to generate theory about the perspectives of staff on what they consider to be coaching in secondary public schools in Perth, Western Australia; an interpretive study of one school.
As both a participant in the proposed study holding a formal leadership role, as well as an observer analysing the case study school’s processes at the commencement of 2015, ethical considerations are paramount:
- Staff were invited to participate in the study;
- questions were shared and discussed prior to interviews being undertaken;
- identities are concealed in order to ensure anonymity;
- and draft transcripts were returned to pilot interviewees to prompt further insights, confirm perspectives, and maintain integrity of theories expressed.
My own paradigm as a post-graduate student, teacher of English, and administrator with line management responsibilities was brought into question. While uneasy tensions ensued, enlisting the principal’s early support for inquiry proved advantageous.
The literature warned that “careless fieldwork can provoke resistance” (Fielding, 2004, p.237), so I maintained a scrupulously sensitive, responsible approach. As a practice, research in my own work setting involved
a dialectic of cooperation and resistance, and the tension between these qualities is a potential analytic resource as well as an important way to gauge the adequacy of the data and monitor threats to the fieldworker’s welfare (Fielding, 2004, p. 236).
Initial sampling will lead to ongoing observations which will also inform the research, dependent on categories that emerge during data analysis. Guiding questions are central to the study:
- What are the aims or intentions of staff in regard to coaching? What reasons do they give for these intentions?
- What strategies do staff say they have for realising their aims and intentions and what reasons do they give for employing those strategies?
- What do the staff see as the significance of their aims or intentions, and their strategies and what reasons can they give for this?
- What outcomes do staff anticipate from pursuing their aims or intentions, and what reasons can they give for this?
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Analysis of data is dependent on
a tightly-woven iterative process involving constant comparison, which leads to the gradual development and refinement of theory grounded in the data (Tuettemann, 2003, p. 11).
While views are likely to vary, hope for successful outcomes generated by sustained coaching practices was commonly expressed during pilot interviews. Direct observations also reinforced interviewees’ positive perceptions, along with considered concerns related to deprivatising practices, particularly where strategies are perceived as imposed external accountability measures as distinct from internal accountability (Fullan, 2007; Fullan et al., 2015).
This sense of belonging within the school’s context leads to confirmation of the calibre of much of the data; lines of inquiry effectively remain open.
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Vignette 1 – Empowerment
Coaching is changing me and the way I operate because I’ve always been the sort of person who wanted to fix things for people, and always coming up with ideas like “How about this solution, how about that…” and thinking that it’s helping them, but you realise after a while that it doesn’t really help. It might give them some ideas, but then they’ve still got to go away and work out how they feel about it all. With the coaching, I think they get to a good understanding about how they feel, and can move on from there.
Vignette 2 – Recognition
My aims are to improve my communication skills and therefore improve the relationships. As a leader, there are other elements of your relationships with people that make the need for communication to be more sophisticated – there’s that pressure. If you are leading change, or leading performance, or you’re trying to build a culture of collaborative practice, a safe supportive culture, then one of the elements of that is communication. It’s critical. One of the elements of communication is helping people feel confident about who they are and what they bring to something. It shouldn’t be about hero leaders and experts all the time. It should be about recognising different personalities, and different strengths, and finding ways to have people bring those out and communicate them.
Fielding, N. (2004). Working in hostile environments. In Seale, C., Gobo, G., Gubrium, J.F. & Silverman, D. (Eds.). Qualitative research practice. London: Sage, pp. 236-266.
Fullan, M. (2007). Change the terms for teacher learning. National Staff Development Council, 28(3). Retrieved March 10, 2015 http://www.michaelfullan.ca/media/13396074650.pdf
Fullan, M., Rincon-Gallardo, S. & Hargreaves, A. (2015). Professional capital as accountability. Education Policy Analysis Archives, 23(15), pp. 1-22. Retrieved March 5, 2015 http://epaa.asu.edu/ojs/article/view/1998/1511
Hargreaves, A. & Fullan, M. (2012). Professional capital: Transforming teaching in every school. New York; London; Teachers College Press.
Somers, M. (2007). Coaching at work: Powering your team with awareness, responsibility and trust. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.
Tuettemann, E. (2003). Grounded theory illuminates interpersonal relationships. In O’Donoghue, T. & Punch, K. (Eds.). Qualitative educational research in action: Doing and reflecting. RoutledgeFalmer: London and New York.
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The purpose of this qualitative study is to use grounded theory methods to generate theory on coaching where none currently exists in education. Within the interpretivist framework adopted, narrative inquiry will be a means by which the organisational culture of the case study school is explored through individual staff members’ perspectives (Marshall & Rossman, 2006).
is seen as the primary instrument for data collection and analysis (Punch, 2000, p. 57),
thus participant and non-participant observations, along with semi-structured interviewing, and ongoing coaching conversations based on daily teaching practices – also recorded as photographic artefacts – contribute to data collection.
Given that the stated intention of the inquiry is to generate theory about the perspectives of staff on what they consider to be coaching in secondary public schools in Perth, Western Australia, conflicting storylines in the form of collected narrative vignettes were anticipated, and subsequently confirmed during pilot interviews which necessitate a flexible approach to the study.
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While creative review of the literature was underway, contradictions emerged in the case study school, however reassurance was drawn from acknowledgement that
cognitive dissonance has long been considered to be a valuable learning experience (O’Donoghue, 2007, p. xi).
In particular, time was perceived as a pressing constraint. Theoretical sampling also necessitates flexibility since emerging contrasts in data collection serve both to enable points of comparison and blur boundaries of the analytical process (Dey, 2004). Inevitably, complexities arise, especially as the case study school confronted an IPS review and the previous year’s survey findings provoked concern.
According to critics of grounded theory, grappling with complex procedures of generating and analysing data
should not blind us to its ambiguities and problems (Dey, 2004, p. 81).
Reflective practices undertaken during this inquiry were seen generating feedback loops which, of themselves, assisted in shaping understanding of, and insights to, development of theory (Schon, 1983).
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Attendant procedures relevant to this study are derived from:
- Action in practice
- School change
- Leadership practices
- Attending to trust
As both a participant in a formal leadership role, and observer analysing the case study school’s processes, ethical considerations were paramount: Staff were invited to participate in the study; questions were shared and discussed prior to interviews being undertaken; identities are concealed in order to ensure anonymity; and draft transcripts were returned to interviewees to prompt further insights, confirm perspectives, and maintain integrity of theories expressed. While informed consent was obtained as subjects were invited to participate in the study, ensuring security of data and primary materials was a negotiated process, especially where storage of photographic records was involved (Australian Government, 2007).
Limitations of the study
There are a number of limitations to this work. By design, the participants were selected due to availability in the local context. The small scale of the study renders conclusions highly specific in nature. While findings may be transferable, any generalisations are offered with caution. Raising these considerations here serves as a reminder that
the study is bounded and situated in a specific context. The reader, then, can make decisions about its usefulness for other settings (Marshall & Rossman, 2006, p. 42).
Australian Government. (2007). Australian code for the responsible conduct of research. National Health and Medical Research Council publication. Retrieved February 1, 2015 http://www.nhmrc.gov.au/_files_nhmrc/publications/attachments/r39.pdf
Dey, I. (2004). Grounded theory. In Seale, C., Gobo, G., Gubrium, J.F. & Silverman, D. (Eds.). Qualitative research practice. London: Sage, pp. 80—93.
Marshall, C. & Rossman, G.B. (2006). Designing qualitative research (4th Ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.
O’Donoghue, T. (2007). Planning your qualitative research project: An introduction to interpretivist research in education. Oxon: Routledge.
Punch, K. F. (2000). Developing effective research proposals. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.
Schon, D.A. (1983). The reflective practitioner: How professionals think in action. New York: Basic Books.