Between the spaces: Instructional coaches negotiating school improvement study
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Instructional coaches have become important to bringing embedded professional development into schools as a response to school improvement (Anderson, 2009). The literature reveals that instructional coaches can support teachers as they implement new strategies (Killion, Harrison, Braun, & Clifton, 2012). The literature further supports that the changes in teacher strategies may increases student achievement (Kretlow & Bartholomew, 2010). However, there is limited research on the self-perception of coaches in their role for school improvement. The instructional coach is unique because the instructional coach occupies the space between administrators and teachers. This general qualitative study uses a post-structural theoretical framework to analyze the perceptions of instructional coaches and the work they do. Using in-depth interviewing, an online discussion forum and a focus group, issues of power and positioning of self within the system will be explored. Six female instructional coaches were interviewed, three participated in the online discussion forum, and two participated in a focus group to uncover their stories about coaching. The research questions were how do instructional coaches negotiate the space between administrators and teachers? How do instructional coaches position themselves within school improvement efforts? What forms of power and influence do instructional coaches perceive they have? In what ways do instructional coaches navigate the political structures of the school system? This study supports the work of instructional coaches within the school improvement process by revealing how these instructional coaches perceive power in the relationships with teachers and administrators. A conceptual framework of the instructional coaches as landscaper is explored to explain the work of the instructional coach through a post-structuralist frame.