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coaching approaches

January 31, 2015

Muriel’s urge to change is a driving force in this 1994 film which I plan on analysing with Year 12s in 3A English this semester. Feels odd returning to a text 20 years after its release; since construction of Muriel’s character depends on the impact of nostalgia, effects of social satire are compounded for me (growing up/ migrating to Australia in the 70s) by the soundtrack.

Here is a hero’s journey with distinctive Aussie verve: Muriel is a loveable dag.


On to my own journey investigating Approaches to Research.

Where I’m at is drafting/ reading/ interviewing/ thinking and reflecting on my initial concept. I must admit to being – like Muriel – uncertain this morning due to feeling stalled. Sounds simple enough to tackle 30 minute pilot interviews during a working week, but this was not to be…


Should I conduct action research instead? 

I am resisting any urge to make decisions at this point, feeling as I do, because there’s not enough information to move forward. Stuckness is frustrating, but it’s better than making mistakes with the assignment.

Opening gambit seems a good place to begin:

The aim of the proposed study is to generate theory about the perspectives of staff on coaching in secondary public schools in Perth, Western Australia.  Coaching originated in sporting and business fields where the stated intention is to excel, succeed in competition, or accrue shareholder profits.  Clearly, the latter goal could be seen at odds with notions of the public good which underpin education (Reid, 2012). While origins can be traced, commonalities are few, and differences best emphasised at the outset.


The aim is reframed since my lecturer suggested the original was too narrow in focus. I concur, however the pilot interview process revealed subjects are left wondering what it is I want with my questions. Therein lies confusion: I don’t know (at this stage) what I’m after, because the study itself is meant to generate theory.

My justification is along these lines:

A resurgence of interest in coaching practices in Australian schools coincided with publication of the Performance and Development Framework (AITSL, 2012a), and the accompanying Charter for Professional Learning (AITSL, 2012b), yet most of the review documentation and research recommendations are based on studies undertaken internationally – particularly the UK and US (Hay Group, 2013) – where school improvement and leader development are key components of a Global Education Reform Movement (Graham, 2013; Sahlberg, 2011).

For instance, UK reports identify coaching as suitable professional development “commonly conceived as a means of providing personalised professional support to teachers through discussion about their practice” (Lofthouse, Leat & Towler, 2010, p. 5).  This example, like others, draws on evidence that quality teaching practices have significant impact on improved student achievement (Barber & Mourshed, 2007; Dinham, 2013; Hattie, 2009; Jensen & Reichl, 2012). Similar views regarding school improvement practices and professional growth have currency in the Australian context, however coaching is still an emergent component within a suite of Performance and Development tools (AITSL, 2015).


Sounds as if one possible theory is that national distinctions exist despite the global popularity of educational coaching practices. Why is further study relevant?

Heightened interest in coaching processes in US schools seems motivated by desire to achieve transformation (Aguilar, 2013; Laba, 2011), with some claiming that coaching has been informed by “scientific management principles… [which] have had strong elements of bureaucratic organization” (Tshannen-Moran & Tshannen-Moran, 2011, para 6). As a neoliberal view, aligned with accountability measures and performance appraisal mechanisms, this perspective is less likely to be adopted as a nationally endorsed norm.

Throughout the literature, key distinctions between evaluation and feedback are useful emphases to underscore the crucial nature of trust in coaching (Bottery, 2003). To date, though, there appear to be few studies that have focused on clarifying participants’ perspectives of coaching practices in Australia; this proposal seeks to redress imbalance in the research.

Selected references

Aguilar, E. (2013). The art of coaching. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

AITSL. (2012a). Australian teacher performance and development framework. Retrieved September 10, 2014

AITSL. (2012b). Australian charter for the professional learning of teachers and school leaders. Retrieved September 10, 2014

AITSL. (2015). Teacher toolkit. Retrieved January 20, 2015

Barber, M. & Mourshed, M. (2007). How the world’s best performing school systems come out on top. London: McKinsey & Company. Retrieved September 28, 2014

Bottery, M. (2003). The management and mismanagement of trust. Educational Management Administration & Leadership 31(3), pp. 245-261. Retrieved July 21, 2014

Dinham, S. (2013). The quality teaching movement in Australia encounters difficult terrain: A personal perspective. Australian Journal of Education 57(2), pp. 91-106. Retrieved September 29, 2014

Graham, J. (2013). (Ed). GERM: Global education reform movement. Professional Voice, 9(3), pp. 5-10. Retrieved October 17, 2014

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—coaching-summary-of-selected-literature-models-and-current-practices

Jensen, B. & Reichl, J. (2012). Implementing a performance and development framework. Grattan Institute. Retrieved August 24, 2014

Laba, K. (2011). Coaching for school improvement: A guide for coaches and their supervisors. Retrieved January 25, 2015

Lofthouse, R., Leat, D. & Towler, C. (2010). Coaching for teaching and learning: A practical guide for schools. Retrieved January 25, 2015

Reid, A. (2012). Federalism, public education and the public good. Whitlam Institute: Perspectives. Retrieved July 5, 2014

Sahlberg, P. (2011). Finnish lessons: What can the world learn from educational change in Finland? New York: Teachers College Press.

Tshannen-Moran, B. & Tshannen-Moran, M. (2011). The coach and the evaluator. Educational leadership. Retrieved January 21, 2015 from ASCD website:

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