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Compiling the evidence: Coaching, leadership and school improvement' Experiences of graduate student


2/3rds of the coaches were recruited by instructors in the program ... 60% of the time, these coaches report that they followed the reciprocal' shared learning model. ... – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: Compiling the evidence: Coaching, leadership and school improvement' Experiences of graduate student

Compiling the evidence Coaching, leadership and
school improvement. Experiences of graduate
student learners at the University of Victoria
  • Dr. Catherine McGregor
  • and Alison Brophey
  • University of Victoria
  • January 7, 2009

  • How is school leadership preparation affected by
    a facilitated mentorship experience in which
    experienced and less experienced school
    administrators/teacher leaders are matched over a
    period of about 12 months?
  • What benefits accrue to the graduate student
  • In what ways do these partners attribute career
    or school based successes as leaders to the
    mentorship experience?
  • To what extent do these coaching/mentoring
    relationships support wider learning in the
    school context?

What is CSML?
  • Graduate certificate program for school leaders
  • Focus initially on filling gap of needed school
    administrators (close to 50 of enrolment are now
    teacher leaders)
  • 6 units of credit, ladders into a Masters in
  • Created in partnership with the BC Educational
    Leadership Council
  • Has enrolled four cohorts of 20-26 students
  • Completed over two summers and distance courses

Unique elements of CSML program
  • Coaching experience
  • Focused on leadership inquiry
  • Taught by well known and respected professionals
  • Intensive, summer only model
  • Curriculum is built around practice and
    personal/collective inquiry rather than
    subjects/themes or courses

CSML (Certificate in School Management and
Leadership) Program elements
  • Evidence based model
  • Case study research
  • Role school principals play in student learning
  • Link between research and field focused school
    based work
  • Leadership theory related to school improvement
  • Distributed forms of leadership
  • Power of learning communities and inquiry as
    primary tools for learning leadership

CSML Principles (continued)
  • Networking to support professional learning
  • Personally shaped inquiry processes
  • Dialogue in self reflective thinking and meaning
  • Ethical commitment to a democratic learning
  • Knowledge produced and shared by learners and
  • Equity based practices

Study Design
  • Preliminary work
  • Literature review and review of program history
  • Consultation with program faculty/staff
  • Review of program features and initial goals
  • Review of earlier commissioned mentorship report
  • Review of agreement with BCELC as primary funder
    of study
  • Discussions with interested current and former
    CSML students
  • Developing research framework focus of study to
    reflect contemporary literature in school
    leadership and school improvement

Phases of the research plan
  • Attend Coaching training session (August, 2008)
  • Online survey (November, 2008 complete)
  • Field visits (scheduled for spring, 2009)
  • Interviews
  • Focus groups
  • Discussions with colleagues/staff at school level
  • Draft report sharing (June 2009)
  • Final report (August, 2009)

Survey Design
  • Developed by team of researchers at U Vic
  • The lead author developed a series of questions
    designed to focus in on the specific elements of
    the coaching experience
  • sought to establish the degree to which the
    coaching partnership shaped emerging leadership
    practices, as identified by participants.
  • Dr. Paul Shaw, a collaborator in this research
    study, developed other questions designed to
    probe for particular practices of leadership, and
    in particular, to consider the school or district
    conditions that either enabled or constrained the
    practices of leadership for school improvement

Survey data collected
  • Respondents
  • 70 female (reflective of demographic of
  • Total respondents 60
  • 95 Caucasian, European descent (3 people self
    identified into other ethnic groups)
  • 71 of participants have been teachers for 11
    years or more, with the bulk having spent 11-15
    years teaching
  • 50 of participants were current school based
    administrators the second largest group 41
    classroom teachers
  • School districts 56.4 rural, 46.3 urban

Respondents (continued)
  • 25 of mentors who have worked in the program
    participated in the survey
  • 40 of CSML graduates from the program
  • Highest participation rates from 3rd and 4th
    cohort (most recent graduates and many still
    involved with U Vic Masters program)
  • More than half of the participants also identify
    as participants in the Network of Performance
    based schools (a government funded initiative
    focused on using BC Performance Standards in BC

Coaches as Lead Learners
How do you formally support learning for new or
emerging teacher leaders?
How do you informally support learning for
emerging or new teacher leaders.
Structures or processes you use to for supporting
learning and teaching in your work context
Other characteristics of Coaches
  • 22/25 subscribe to educational journals such as
    ASCD, Phi Delta Kappan, Journal of Staff
  • Women (95)
  • 23/25 identified a range of professional
    activities they engage in to support their own
    continued learning
  • 40 participate actively in work related to
    assessment for learning
  • 50 identified critical dialogues about learning
    as central to their work as educational leaders
  • 2/3rds of the coaches were recruited by
    instructors in the program

How these coaches support leadership
development 3 categories
  • Facilitating the emergence of new spaces for
    leadership to emerge
  • A teacher comes up with an idea to improve
    student learning, I stand and support them…
    thereby allowing them to opportunity to further
    learn and lead
  • Allowing them to come up with their ideas when
    they are brought to the discussion
  • Asking them to share ideas and learning with
    staff in staff meetings and on professional
    development days

Sharing existing responsibilities or roles
in the school (formal task distribution)
  • Giving teachers the opportunity to make
    important decisions about program development
  • Creating a district team…and facilitating
    their ability to run workshops for teachers in
    their specialty areas
  • having teaches take on the leadership of teams
    attending assessment for learning workshops
  • Encouraging individual staff members to lead
  • Having different staff members run different
    sections of…meetings

Modeling learning and leadership so teachers can
learn by example
  • Leading by example, volunteering both at the
    School and in the community
  • Connecting students to community events, Linking
    teachers through learning inquiries, Initiating
    change through teacher-leaders, and acknowledging
    their contribution

The Coaching partnership
  • While close to 90 of the coaches were not
    familiar with the coaching process used by Dr.
    Robertson, nearly all followed the structure to a
    large degree (75 of the times they met as
    coaches and learners)
  • 60 of the time, these coaches report that they
    followed the reciprocal shared learning model.
    This means that both the coach and the learner
    shared their experiences, challenges, and issues
    to assist them in resolving issues

The Coaching Cycle as reported by CSML learners
The usefulness of the coaching structure
  • 14/19 respondents say they used the reflective
    questioning and active listening either all or
    75 of the time, in order to give their learner
    95 of the time to focus on their own issue and
    how to resolve it.
  • The GROW model (what is your GOAL? What is the
    REALITY? What are the OPTIONS? WRAP UP) was also
    used as the primary structure to guide this
    learning conversation (75-100 of the time this
    was used by 10 out of 17 coaches)

The Coachs voice
  • Whenever possible I tried to have at least one
    site visit and set up a reciprocal opportunity as
    well… I think the site visits were invaluable for
    the learner and certainly clarified my vision of
    the learner-in-action
  • The CSML learner introduced me to new resources.
    After actively listening to the CSML leaner, I
    often reflected on the gaps between what I do and
    what I believe I should do. This was helpful.
  • As we communicated mostly by email it was
    important to reread assignments and ask questions
    when I was unsure. If we needed to talk to one
    another that was also an option. We connected
    each week, even when we were busy, so that we
    both knew what was happening in our professional
    and personal lives. This helped when planning for
    the big assignments
  • Because both of my mentoring experienced
    required travel, we met infrequently and were
    often rushed by circumstances. I found it
    impossible to use this model GROW, SMART over
    the telephone or internet. I feel I requires the
    coaching partnership to be physically together
    there is so much to learn from body language and
    voice inflection

What benefits does coaching bring to you as coach?
The Coachs voice
  • Providing knowledge, but also learning from my
    learner that learning never stops
  • Developing a relationship with another teacher
  • The ability to learn from a colleague. I am an
    experienced school principal and was able to walk
    with my colleague as she took on that role for
    the first time
  • We have so much to learn from each other

CSML Learners Metaphors of their experiences as
  • No mountain is too big to scale….
  • Like an umbrella in a windstorm…
  • Its a jam session we are all dropping in and
    out, but enjoying the music
  • Caught in a deep pool of reflection
  • Gathering pollen…
  • Entering a new world with clarity of vision…

CSML Learner Profile
  • 90 women
  • mid-career, usually with 10-15 years of teaching
  • 95 of them are heavily involved in other
    professional development activities, including
    working on a Masters degree, taking courses
    through BCELC, engaging in district level PD
    (often leading it), participating as
    learning/literacy coaches, and the NPBS
  • 75 mention reading professional material
  • About 50 practicing school administrators 50
    teacher leaders

An emphasis on student learning
  • 50 of respondents identified formative
    assessment as the key school goal they were
    engaged in working on
  • 25 identified strategies for team building to
    improve teaching and learning
  • 25 identified the development of professional
    learning communities

Reflections on the coaching process
Key components of the coaching process
  • Active listening 14
  • Giving feedback, not advice 9
  • Conducting a focused conversation 9
  • Questioning and clarifying questions 7
  • Reflection 7
  • Building trust 5
  • Most important? LISTENING, REFLECTION and TRUST

How the coaching process has impacted the CSML
learners leadership practices
Self identified new leadership practices
  • Communication
  • Decision making
  • Relationship building/interpersonal skills
  • Team work
  • School improvement
  • Networking/professional relationship building
  • Policy
  • Managing student learning
  • Inclusion/equity strategies

Communication new strategies
Decision making new strategies
Relationship/interpersonal new strategies
Team building new strategies
School improvement new strategies
Professional contacts new strategies
Policy development new strategies
Managing student learning new strategies
Cultural and social inclusion new strategies
The most significant benefit of the coaching
partnership was…
Some preliminary/tentative observations
  • There appears to be a strong relationship between
    the coaching partnership and the goals of the
    program, and this influences CSML learners
    leadership practices significantly.
  • There are two apparent gaps policy development
    and cultural/social inclusion. This will be
    something we will investigate more fully in the
    next stages of the project.

Preliminary Observations cont.
  • There is also an important emphasis on learning
    and ways of distributing leadership, both
    indicators of conditions necessary for leaders to
    influence student learning (Robinson, 2008
    Robinson et al, 2008).

Distributed leadership making the link to
student achievement
  • Harris (2004) and Robinson (2008) both make a
    strong case for linking distributed leadership
    practices with improved student achievement
  • Robinsons (2008) discussion of the ways in which
    distributed leadership operates focuses
    researchers attention on how tasks are
    distributed but goes onto consider processes of
    influence, and the use of smart tools (p. xx)
  • Coaches and CSML learners responses in this
    survey emphasize all three of these elements.
    This theoretical and analytical lens will guide
    our subsequent work with this data.

Coaching a Smart tool for leadership and student
  • As Robinson (2008) claims, smart tools are those
    practices and strategies which allow for an
    emphasis on student learning
  • We argue that coaching could be considered
    similarly, as it allows leaders to focus on their
    own development and learning while simultaneously
    affirming its purpose as linked to school
  • This bridges the oft reported theory-practice gap
    typical in many graduate programs designed to
    prepare school leaders
  • It also doubles as a tool for distributing
    leadership, given its capacity to influence
    others practices and approaches to teaching and
  • Finding evidence in schools and school districts
    for how this is realized will be a next step.

Images and References
  • http//
  • chamonixtrekking/MtB-5.jpg
  • Harris, A. (2004). Distributed leadership and
    school improvement leading or misleading?
    Educational management, Administration and
    Leadership, 32, 1 11-24.
  • Robinson, V. (2008). Forging the links between
    distributed leadership and educational outcomes.
    Journal of Educational administration, 46, 2
  • Robinson, V., Lloyd, C., Rowe, K. (2008). The
    impact of leadership on student outcomes An
    analysis of differential effects on leadership
    types. Educational Administration Quarterly, 44,
    5 635-674.