Thursday, March 24, 2011

Using Collegial Coaching and Reflection as Mechanisms for Changing School Culture

Delany, J.C., & Arredondo, D.E. (1998). Using collegial coaching and reflection as mechanisms for changing school culture. Proceedings of the Annual meeting of the university council for educational administration (pp. 1-16). St. Louis: EDRS.

In this research study, the authors explored the potential of a reflective conversations and a collegial coaching model as mechanisms for school leaders to institute significant cultural change in a school. The goal was to discover if such reflection, dialogue and conversations among colleagues could create an environment that would lead to meaningful change in the school. Using a middle school with grades 4-7, an administrator and six teachers paired into three collegial partnerships, they looked at how this model could provide an alternative to the traditional supervisory methods often used in schools. The participating teachers received training on how to have meaningful dialogue, how to use reflection in conversation and writing and how to coach one another. They sought data on whether or not this model would impact the participant's classroom practices, attitudes and perception towards professional growth. They ultimately wanted to know if these interactions would impact the culture of the middle school. When compared against outside professional developers, this model certainly impacted the teaching and learning of the adults in this specific school. In several of the partnerships, they found that the participants changed their teaching as a result of the conversations and reflection. They each believed that the collegial coaching had indeed impacted their teaching practices. One teacher realized that it helped and encouraged her to have her own students be more reflective and do more learning from one another in the same way she was with her collegial partner. It also helped the teachers to have a more positive view of professional development and growth in general. And the researchers made some assumptions based on evidence that this indeed led to changes in the overall school culture. The study is helpful but was conducted over only four weeks and with only six teachers.

"While more recent research has shown that reform strategies aimed at changing the core technology of schools-- i.e. the teaching and learning process-- show promises in affecting the quality of student learning, it seems clear that permanent changes in school practices will be realized only when the professional practices of teachers and administrators have been transformed into and/or by new school cultures." (p.3)

"Collegial coaching, dialogue, and reflection may result in teachers acquiring positive attitudes and perceptions about ongoing professional growth." (p.4)

"Three data sources were used to determine the effects of collegial coaching in combination with reflection on participant teachers' classroom practices and about their attitudes and perceptions towards professional growth. Interview questions and reflective journal prompts were designed to assist the researcher in discovering insights that teachers may have gleaned from reflection, and to determine how these insights may have impacted teachers' solving of problems that had been uncovered during their reflective conversations about their teaching practices. Insights about teacher development of educative theory and about institutional or cultural change were also sought. Videotapes of teaching and of pre-and post observation conferences, journals, and interviews were used to collect data. A major purpose of videotaping was to provide teacher participants with immediate feedback about their use of the dialogue skills of pausing, paraphrasing, and probing during planning and reflective conferences." (p. 6)

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