Principal and Literacy Coach: Collaboration and Goal Alignment

By Selvaggi, Tina | Delta Kappa Gamma Bulletin, Spring 2016 | Go to article overview

Principal and Literacy Coach: Collaboration and Goal Alignment


Selvaggi, Tina, Delta Kappa Gamma Bulletin


Research Design

Because the area of literacy coaching is continually evolving and changing, a need exists for more information and research about the relationships between literacy coaches and administrators. Mraz, Algozzine, and Watson (2008) found the role of the literacy coach is often open to interpretation from principals and classroom teachers. Some coaches are unsure of their roles because their responsibilities change and they are used differently, sometimes even in the same district.

Participants in this study were elementary principals (N = 5). They were selected through purposive sampling (Berg, 2009), in which the researcher uses knowledge about a group to select subjects who represent the population. In this case, the researcher made initial contact with participants at an international literacy coaching conference and selected those who expressed willingness to participate in the study. In order to add richness to the study, the principals who were involved ultimately represented schools in various states, including Florida, New Jersey, Texas, West Virginia, and the researcher's home state of Pennsylvania.

Surveys (Appendix) were distributed electronically to elementary principals and were used to solicit their attitudes, beliefs, and interactions with literacy coaches. The crosssectional surveys (Creswell, 2003) collected the data at one point in time and were selfadministered electronic questionnaires. The principals' survey was adapted from the work of Matsumura, Sartoris, Bicke, and Gamier (2009), who studied the actions and beliefs of principals in elementary schools that had recently implemented a new coaching model. Matsumura et al. found that principals' leadership contributed to the effective use of literacy coaches. The principals' survey also included a checklist of 18 items through which participants could indicate ways they supported and interacted with the literacy coach.

Limitations to credibility and authenticity exist in this study. The results may not be able to be generalized to a large population because a small sample was used. In addition, participants may have been hesitant to criticize their schools or their districts. Nevertheless, key themes emerge for consideration.

Overview of Results

All five of the surveyed principals believed the literacy coach was influential in helping the staff change or improve literacy instruction. Similarly, three out the five principals believed the literacy coach was extremely influential, and two of the five believed the literacy coach was very influential in providing opportunities for collaboration among and between professionals in other beneficial ways. When asked for additional comments, principals stressed staff development as an important way the literacy coaches helped classroom teachers to change or improve their literacy instruction. One principal described how the literacy coach provided information on balanced literacy, while another stated the literacy coach met with teachers every 6 weeks to provide staff development. Individual meetings, grade-level group meetings, cluster coaching sessions, and ongoing training were just a few of the examples principals shared when asked about how the presence of the coach affected opportunities for collaboration among teachers. Respondents also noted that literacy coaches are often important to the principal because they are able to help the principal understand current literacy research and best practices ( Wepner, Strickland, ÔC Quatroche, 2014). One principal praised the literacy coach's ability to help her gain a "better understanding of the literacy model."

Collaboration

When asked about collaboration between the literacy coach and faculty members, four of the principals surveyed said the coach was extremely collaborative. Only one principal, who called the literacy coach somewhat collaborative, saw the coach participating in other tasks besides collaborating with teachers. …

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