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Case study background

February 21, 2015

The aim of this study is to generate theory about the perspectives of staff on coaching in secondary public schools in Perth, Western Australia; an interpretive study of one school.

Methodology – background

The approach adopted in this qualitative study can be seen as choosing itself. Coaching at the micro-level of the case study school is

  • Close at hand
  • Established as a component of daily practice, and
  • Related to national changes in performance and development processes already underway (AITSL, 2012).

There was a realisation as pilot interviews and sampling of observational data progressed that there is much to be gained by beginning with a familiar topic with which you are already involved (Silverman, 2000). Pressures of time, for one, were minimised: Walkthroughs are already conducted as a reflective practice in our Humanities team each week, and have been ongoing for two years; photographs are regularly collected and shared as artefacts for reflective coaching conversations.

2014-05-15 18.45.14


Trust is established, and teacher professionalism has been harnessed (Sachs, 2003). In our team, for instance, we have agreed to include coaching as a strategy in our Operational Plan, established team practices have evolved to accommodate new staff, and feedback during Performance and Development along with reflective processes indicates the value of coaching practices to our professional learning community.

Thus, the conceptual framework devised for this unfolding study involved theoretical sampling of qualitative data where the researcher is the instrument for data collection, and the methodology is grounded theory (Punch, 2000).


Last year, school leaders undertook Growth Coaching training as a team approach to leading school improvement, while a select few have participated in Cognitive Coaching workshops funded through the Women in Leadership program, and, more recently, peer coaching has been introduced to the whole staff as a means of promoting a community of practice (Wenger, 2000).

Norms have been introduced and – with varying degrees of effectiveness – applied (Little, 1982). In order to capture the new perspective afforded by pilot interviews, it was decided to use narrative inquiry as the methodology where autobiographical stories

should be viewed as a set of procedures for ‘life-making’ (Bruner, 2004, p. 692).

Advocates of this methodological approach avoid potential reductionism of traditional approaches by focusing

not on capturing facts, but rather on the articulation of the meaning of experience. Any narrative is, therefore, a partial, temporal, situated account reflecting the social, political and historical moment (Thomas, 2012, p. 211).

Selected references

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

Bruner, J. (2004). Life as narrative. Social Research, 71(3), pp. 691-710. Retrieved February 12, 2015

Little, J. (1982). Norms of collegiality and experimentation: Workplace conditions of school success. American Education Research Journal, 19(3) pp. 325-340.

Punch, K. F. (2000). Developing effective research proposals. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

Sachs, J. (2003). The activist teaching profession. Buckingham: Open University Press.

Silverman, D. (2000). Doing qualitative research: A practical handbook. Sage: London.

Thomas, S. (2012). Narrative inquiry: Embracing the possibilities. Qualitative Research Journal, 12(2), pp. 206-221.

Wenger, E. (2000). Communities of practice and social learning systems. Organization, 7(2), pp. 225-246.

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