A Study of Literacy Coaches in an Urban School District
Aguilar, Ana Laura
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Abstract Background: Educators are under mounting pressure to address increasing standards for student performance, which includes meeting the needs of an equally increasing diverse student population. Building educators’ capacity to respond to these growing demands necessitates a professional development model that will address individual teacher’s needs and have them prepared to facilitate students’ learning to meet academic performance standards. Purpose: There are numerous professional development models and this was a study of one model’s use and implementation, the Teacher Development Specialist, as adopted for use in a large urban school district in Texas. This model had not previously been studied and the results of are intended to serve as a tool for decision making in the district as to its use. Methods: The study followed a qualitative research design. A grounded theory evaluation methodology was utilized to ascertain if the Teacher Development Specialist model is being implemented with fidelity and the effects of the model on individual practice, as perceived by the participants. Six teacher development specialists, commonly referred to as instructional coaches, who specialize in literacy coaching, were selected to participate in the study. A focus group was utilized to gather participants’ responses. The responses were transcribed and analyzed to identify themes, and draw conclusions and their implications for educational practice. Results: The study revealed six emergent themes: continuous professional development, collaboration among colleagues, research in best practices, principal buy-in and support, teacher buy-in and collaboration, and time spent coaching teachers; all of which can be found in the extant literature. Conclusions: The study revealed the Teacher Development Specialist model is in place and utilized; however, it is not being implemented consistently and with fidelity. Further research is needed, related to improving the use and fidelity of implementation of the coaching style.