Over the next several months, I will be sharing many of the research studies I have conducted over the past twenty years, mostly in my role as a Senior Research Associate at the Kansas Coaching Project at the University of Kansas Center for Research on Learning.
With each post, I’ll describe the study and how the findings contributed to my colleagues and my developing understanding of what we came to describe as instructional coaching.
My research on coaching began when I conducted more than 200 interviews with teachers to learn about their perceptions of professional development. One set of interviews lead to a case study, “Another Damn Thing We’ve Got to Do: Teacher Perceptions of Professional Development”, which I presented at the American Educational Research Association Conference in New Orleans in 2000.
The study grew out of a workshop I conducted that turned out to be very negative. At the end of the workshop, on workshop evaluations, as I wrote in Instructional Coaching: A Partnership Approach to Improving Instruction (2007) participants made such comments as:
- There is so much negativity, it seems, just toward trying something new.
- I regret the less-than-warm reception you have received from our department. Clearly, we have a problem there.
- The lack of communication ended up putting you in a sticky, hostile situation. There is no way you can convince all of us to do this.
- Not all of us are feeling as bitchy as some of the others around us.
- I have a really bad headache and I have to have an ulcer test Monday.
As a researcher, I was curious to try and understand why participants had been so negative about change, and I interviewed all participants, transcribed their interviews, and then analyzed the transcripts to look for trends. The results are reported in the attached paper.
One interesting outcome of the study is not reported here in the paper, but I did write about it in Instructional Coaching: A Partnership Approach to Improving Instruction (2007). Meeting one-to-one with each teacher changed my relationship with the educators, and my next workshop went much differently. On workshop evaluations participants made such comments as:
- I’m feeling very positive about knowing exactly what I’m working towards.
- Some of the other strategies sound cool (like comparison and anchoring) and I’m anxious to learn about these as well.
- The dialogue among teachers was terrific!
- I feel up, positive, and excited about the pending changes in Eng I and Eng II. I think today went well.
- This went fantastically! This is the first time in a long time that I have felt upbeat and positive about approaching curriculum change.
- There is a light at the end of the tunnel, and we’re beginning to breathe fresh air.
Recognizing the power of one-to-one conversations was a starting point for my work on instructional coaching.
You can read the case study by clicking below.