Exploring Coaching Trends in Classrooms - Digital Promise

Exploring Coaching Trends in Classrooms

January 21, 2020 | By

Teacher quality is one of the most important factors that contributes to student success. There is a growing body of research that points to coaching as a powerful way to support teacher effectiveness. As such, coaching is becoming more prevalent in schools and districts in the U.S., and districts are increasingly using federal, state, and local funds to support coaches and coaching programs.

In 2017, we partnered with Google and EdTechTeam to launch the Dynamic Learning Project (DLP), a classroom-based coaching program with the goal of increasing educational equity and the impactful use of technology. We also led a corresponding research study to assess the impact of DLP coaching on teachers. During the first two years of the program, we found that teachers who participated in the DLP used technology more frequently and in more powerful ways with their students. Moreover, teachers who received DLP coaching reported greater skills and confidence in leveraging technology in their teaching, which resulted in increased student engagement and learning.

Given the impact of coaching found in DLP schools, we were interested in exploring the overall coaching landscape in the U.S., including access to coaching, the perceived effectiveness of coaching, and the existing financial and professional support for coaches. We partnered with Learning Forward to design and distribute a national survey to a robust network of coaches, educators, and administrators committed to professional learning. Our goal is to be able to provide recommendations for the adoption and sustainability of high-quality coaching that supports Powerful Learning.

What did we learn about coaching trends in the U.S.?

The prevalence of coaching across the country is promising, with 83 percent of survey respondents, distributed across all 50 states, reporting that their school or district is currently engaged in coaching. The majority of educator respondents find coaching to be a valuable and impactful form of professional development and believe it has a positive impact on their teaching practice. However, many coaches juggle a very full workload in terms of the number of educators they support and other roles they serve, which may jeopardize the positive impact of coaching. DLP research found that effective coaching is sustained overtime, and our findings corroborated this conclusion, as the teacher respondents who spend more time with their coach rated their coaching as valuable.

While coaching serves as professional development for teachers, it’s also important that coaches have access to their own professional learning opportunities. The majority of coaches who responded to our survey reported that their professional learning is effective; however there is room for more professional development that supports coaches in using technology in their practice.

What are our recommendations for classroom-based technology coaching?

Our findings led us to make several recommendations for improvement, including:

  • Principals and district administrators should monitor coach workload and protect their time with their teachers so they can have the greatest impact.
  • Teachers should spend at least 30 minutes with their coach at biweekly intervals to experience the greatest value.
  • There may be opportunities for coaches to devote more time to supporting teachers in using technology for student learning, which could lead to increased impactful use of technology by students and increased student engagement and learning.
  • Long-term investments in coaching could help maintain continuity from year to year, and federal and state funds dedicated specifically to coaching could make implementing this high-impact professional learning easier to sustain.

Read the full report to learn more, then join us for a webinar on Feb. 11 from 3-4 p.m. to discuss these findings with Digital Promise and Learning Forward.

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