An Instrumental Case Study: Examining the Impact of Coaching on Building Middle School Teacher Agency



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Background: According to Noonan (2014) and Calvert (2016), agency gives teachers the capacity to direct their professional growth in ways that positively influence student achievement. Agency is the combination of one’s belief in their effectiveness, or self-efficacy, and their actual knowledge and skills. Teachers who have acquired agency can identify ways to enhance their professional growth and positively impact student learning. As teachers develop their agency by finding effective ways to advance their professional learning, it is also important for school leaders to contribute to the improvement of teacher agency through coaching and development. The need for this support by school leaders is critical to ensure that teacher agency is acquired for the purpose of assisting with effective instruction for all learners in school settings. This research study is significant due to its focus on matters of literacy at the middle-school level. Literacy is the essential foundation for learning across the educational continuum. Purpose: The purpose of this study was to investigate how sustained coaching develops teacher agency. Research Question: The proposed study addressed the following question: What is the impact of instructional coaching on building agency among middle school literacy teachers? Methods: The qualitative instrumental case study was used to determine the impact of instructional coaching in developing teacher agency. This research design was appropriate because the research focused on the impact of instructional coaching provided for teachers who focus on literacy skills (Creswell, 2018). The convenience sampling strategy was used to select participants from schools that have received instructional coaching from the researcher. Teachers who accepted invitations to participate in the study partook in one (1) one-on-one semi-structured interview and one (1) focus group using the interview guidelines outlined by Creswell (2018). Qualitative data consisted of interview data and researcher journal entries and instructional artifacts. This data was analyzed utilizing constant comparative method for interview data, focus group, and content analysis for document data (journal entries and instructional artifacts) to identify emerging themes and key concepts. To ensure objectivity for this research study, a former NASA research methodologist was utilized for data review and analysis. This individual is adept at deriving common themes from standardized methods of inquiry and had no direct contact with any research participants. Findings: The study found that coaching significantly impacts teacher agency, teacher retention, and student achievement. Research data revealed five emerging themes: 1) coaching positively impacts teacher knowledge acquisition; 2) coaching positively impacts instruction delivery; 3) coaching positively impacts the way teacher’s viewed themselves (self-confidence); 4) coaching positively impacts teachers’ beliefs in their ability to deliver quality instruction (self-efficacy); and 5) coaching positively impacts student achievement. Conclusion: Instructional coaching has a significantly positive impact on building teacher agency.



coaching, agency