Neufeld, B. & Roper, D. (2003). Coaching: A strategy for developing instructional capacity--promises & practicalities. Washington, D.C.: Aspen Institute Program on Education and the Annenberg Institute for School Reform.

Author: Neufeld, B. & Roper, D.



This is currently one of the best reads in the LCC library. It is especially useful to those contemplating starting coaching programs. It also fits well with the models template/heuristic that will appear in the LCC site. The report is a qualitative study based on Neufeld and Roper's in-depth interviews with teachers, coaches, coaches of coaches, principals, and district administrators in four sites that had invested in coaching programs over a 6 year period: New York City; Boston; Louisville, KY; and Corpus Christi, TX. In addition, they observed district-provided coaching professional development as well as school-based professional development, and reviewed pertinent documents related to coaches' work.

Early in this research report, Neufeld and Roper make clear distinctions between change coaches and content coaches. Literacy coaches would be considered content coaches. Besides doing individual coaching of teachers, Neufeld and Roper found that lab sites were a valuable way for small groups of teachers to make observations and to support each other as they made instructional changes. There is a very good section in the article about recommendations from their research concerning elements needed for professional development and supports for coaches. Their research makes quite apparent that the more clear a district can be about the reforms that it is initiating, the better it is for coaches and teachers. Additionally, they outline decisions that districts need to make to be more sure that coaches meet with success: how many coaches to allocate per building; the need for coaches to find enough time to do their work; the difficulty of changing teachers' practices; and the need for solid goal setting and backing from both principals and district administrators as to the vision and targets for improvement. Neufeld and Roper also found coaches had problems working with resistant teachers and principals who were weak leaders. The authors are clear that more ways need to be developed to measure the quality and impact of coaches' work. They point out that while coaching is promising as a way to increase student achievement, there is little data to prove that it works. (Remember this is 2003, and more data is coming in now.)

This report is full of great examples and quotes from coaches, and has two excellent appendices that one ought to look at carefully. The first is about coaching in small groups through lab sites. The second is on the coaching of coaches and suggestions for working with teachers whose knowledge is very high. The question is raised: How do you help even very good teachers move to the next level? This research report is well worth reading and discussing with others.

Date Added: 10/01/2006


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