Academic journal article The Qualitative Report

Instructional Coaching as a Tool for Professional Development: Coaches' Roles and Considerations

Academic journal article The Qualitative Report

Instructional Coaching as a Tool for Professional Development: Coaches' Roles and Considerations

Article excerpt

Teacher professional development is considered a crucial factor in influencing the quality of teaching profession (Gore et al., 2017; Kyriakides, Christoforidou, Panayiotou, & Creemers, 2017). With this in view, school improvement efforts have focused on enhancing the quality of teaching through reviewing the teacher professional development activities. As a professional development tool, instructional coaching has been widely implemented across Malaysia by focusing on providing pedagogical support to teachers and acted to bridge the gap between low-performing and high-performing schools (Malaysian Education Ministry, 2013). Instructional coaching therefore presents a teacher professional development model by providing on-going activities tailored to the specific needs to improve and sustain effective teaching practices.

As a form of instructional coaching programme, the School Improvement Specialist Coaches Plus (SISC+), hereafter referred to as coaches, was introduced in the respective district education offices through the District Transformation Programme (DTP) under the Malaysian Education Blueprint 2013 - 2025 (Ministry of Education Malaysia, 2017). Coaches in Malaysia are full-time teacher professional learning developers that serve several schools in their particular districts they are attached to. Coaches play a crucial role in improving standards and performance of schools to support the aim of the Second Wave of the Malaysian Education Blueprint 2013 - 2025 by working with teachers in the lower performing schools and also schools in the rural areas. This is specifically to enhance the current education system.

As stipulated in the main official guidelines of the coaching programme, coaches act as teacher support in the aspects of pedagogy, assessment, and curriculum. More specifically, there are four main areas of responsibilities of coaches according to the DTP guideline. It is expected that 60% of coaches' time is used on coaching activities such as data-based planning, providing support for teachers in lower performing schools and enacting the role of a pedagogy and curriculum (learning) specialist to teachers (School Management Division, 2017). 20% of coaches' work is dedicated to providing training (teacher professional development) and establishing professional learning community (PLC) networking in schools. Coaches are also expected to employ 15% of their time on developing reports on post-mortem actions and teacher interventions which will later be presented to the head of department in each district for further actions and interventions. Last, 5% of the time would be utilised to complete either coach-related work or administrative work directed by the head of department. The allocation of percentages suggests that coaches would enact roles which include data-based planner, teacher supporter, pedagogy and curriculum specialist, training provider, and catalyst of PLC networking. The roles that coaches play show unique promise in supporting teacher professional development which would help improve teaching practice.

Embedded within the allocation of percentage of each role, coaches act as a medium between the Ministry of Education and the schools in terms of curriculum and assessment implementation. They are expected to monitor the effectiveness in the newly revised curriculum (i.e., Primary School Curriculum Standard; Common European Framework of Reference for Languages), and assessment on providing support to teachers. Apparently, the roles enacted by coaches are multifaceted and complex because there might be more than one role that coaches need to assume at a time. In practice, coaches often involve shape-shifting between the different roles which may depend on varying situations such as how districts envision using the coaching position within their reform efforts and the unique situations and needs of the teachers (Mudzimiri, Burroughs, Lueback, Sutton, & Yopp, 2014). Coaches would, therefore, be left to perceive their coaching roles in coaching teachers as challenging due to the diverse nature of the job (Smith, 2007). …

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