Educators' Perspectives on Implementing Instructional Coaching in an Urban Secondary Science Department



Journal Title

Journal ISSN

Volume Title



Background: In educational usage, the word accountability is synonymous with school improvement. Schools and school districts search for effective measures to provide improvement in instruction, thus improving academic achievement. One measure tried is instructional coaching. Instructional coaching programs generally involve on-site specialists who work with classroom teachers to improve instruction in a content area. Instructional coaching essentially takes a problem or dilemma of a teacher and through reflection and willingness to adapt, promotes a change in instruction. Influences that affect the instructional coaching process include, but are not limited to, teacher acceptance of the instructional coaching model, the amount of time the instructional coach can dedicate to the instructional coaching process, a district’s stance on the type of instructional coach, and the perceived support of the instructional coach by the principal. Purpose: The purpose of this study is to explore the perspectives of educators regarding instructional coaching implementation through science skills specialists within the secondary science department of a large urban school district. It will question the implementation of instructional coaching by an urban school district and identify possible barriers, or roadblocks, that occurred during implementation that prevent instructional coaching from having a positive effect on student achievement. Though, not a panacea, instructional coaching could be an instrument to address the need for improved academic achievement, however, the implementation must fit the academic setting that it seeks to improve. Methods: A qualitative research design was chosen to answer the research question: “What are the perspectives of educators on implementing instructional coaching in an urban secondary science department?” The theoretical framework chosen for this research is the constructivist theory of Transformative Learning which identifies problematic frames of reference, hence, generating more inclusive, discriminating, reflective, open, and emotionally capable change for adult learners. The participants of this study include the secondary science program director of an urban school district and the secondary science skills specialists from the same district. Convenience sampling was used to select the research participants due to the researcher’s monthly access to the participants through district meetings. Data sources will include an interview of the Secondary Science Program Director of an urban school district, the focus groups which will consist of four skills specialists each, grouped by experience in the position, and interviews of four skills specialists using follow-up questions based on individual responses from the group discussions. Data analysis strategies included coding through content analysis of the interviews, the focus groups, and the specialists’ interviews after the focus groups. Keywords like time, extra duties, principal support, teacher acceptance, district support were used to identify common perspectives of instructional coaching. This research can provide insight for other schools and school districts that plan to implement instructional coaching through skills specialists in order to determine the best model that will elicit success in student academic achievement. Results: The perspective of educators on the implementation of instructional coaching varied based on the position of the educator. District alignment is pertinent to the perspective of the educators, and not having a formal process for instructional coaching provides the opportunity for a variance in implementation. A lack of district protocols also led to differing implementation around district schools, creating a disjointed approach to instructional coaching. The research found that the misalignment of the district administration, campus administration, and skills specialists led to the underutilization of instructional coaching by 40%. When the district allowed principals to assign other roles, outside of those stated on the job description for science skills specialists, it caused confusion amongst teachers leading to mixed perceptions of teachers on instructional coaching leading to both positive and negative views. These extra assignments decreased the amount of time the science skills specialists had to implement instructional coaching. As a result of a decreased emphasis on instructional coaching, campuses were left with teachers who had a growth mindset not fully utilizing the model, hence allowing those teachers who were content with their teaching to remain stagnant. Conclusion: Alignment between all levels of educators is needed for the cohesive implementation of an instructional coaching plan. This alignment will lend itself to the proper emphasis on campuses so that instructional coaching will be utilized to achieve its expected results of improving the academic success of students. District based instructional coaching, which assigns coaches to multiple schools, may be the best way to implement instructional coaching in large urban school districts.



Attitudes, Instructional coaching, Perception, Professional development, Science Technology Engineering and Math, Culturally responsive teaching