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Exploring the Instructional Coach-Teacher Relationship

Kathleen Kelley, Johnson & Wales University


Educational reform policies such as the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) place a significant demand on teachers regarding teacher preparation using evidence-based instruction (Phillips et al., 2016). The need for teacher training has grown in recent years as professional expectations have increased (Kraft et al., 2018). The consensus among researchers is that one of the most promising approaches to helping teachers build their instructional expertise is using instructional coaches (Elish-Piper & L’Allier, 2011; Tanner et al., 2017). Instructional coaching plays an important role in improving teacher proficiency and supporting teachers as they learn and implement new teaching strategies (Lee, 2020). Providing teachers access to coaches supports the implementation of new practices and aids teachers in their attempts to improve instructional methods (Preciado, 2015; Sailors & Shanklin, 2010). Evidence indicates that providing teachers with coaching often leads to a positive influence on teaching practices and student achievement (Phillips et al., 2016). This study addressed the following research questions: • How do teachers rate the usefulness of having a relationship with an instructional coach in their school? • How do teachers describe their experiences with instructional coaches? The purpose of this mixed-methods sequential explanatory study was to determine how instructional coaching experiences influence teachers’ instruction. Participants (N=61) who taught Grades 6 through Grade 12 within a suburban school district in the Northeast were invited to voluntarily take part in this study. This study used a quantitative web-based, self-administered questionnaire, and qualitative semi-structured interviews of teachers to explore the research questions. A mixed method approach was used to measure if experiences with instructional coaches are useful to teachers based on self-reported data. The results of this study revealed that instructional coaches have a critical role in influencing teaching best practices. The data suggested that instructional coaches understand teachers' needs through collaboration and provide individualized professional development around new educational initiatives that help enhance the teaching of new content. Therefore, school districts, classroom teachers, and instructional coaches may use this research to aid in policy reforms around professional development utilizing coaches and how time is organized to allow instructional coaches to work with teachers.

Subject Area

Educational leadership|Teacher education|Education Policy

Recommended Citation

Kelley, Kathleen, "Exploring the Instructional Coach-Teacher Relationship" (2023). Dissertation & Theses Collection. AAI30485680.