Can you see me now? The perceived impact of a virtual instructional coaching partnership applied through the lens of the partnership principles on first-year teacher professional growth : an explanatory sequential mixed-methods study.
While coaching exists as a widely accepted employee development practice in the business world, the coaching mindset has not firmly taken hold in K–12 education. According to the 2015–2016 National Teacher and Principal Survey, the average percentage of public schools with at least one on-site instructional coach is 37% (United States Department of Education, 2016). In rural settings, the average percentage of schools with instructional coaches drops to 27% (United States Department of Education, 2016). Lack of instructional coaching creates a hardship for teachers as they remain subject to one-size-fits-all learning that does not meet their individual professional learning needs and goals. As Karlberg and Bezzina explained (2020), this hardship is especially true for first-year teachers.
This explanatory sequential mixed-methods study aimed to explore coaches’ and teachers’ perceived impact of virtual instructional coaching partnerships on first-year teachers applied through the lens of the partnership principles. In the quantitative phase of this study, I surveyed first-year teachers and coaches participating in the Oklahoma State Department of Education First Class Program using two complementary surveys, the Teacher Reflection and Impact Survey and the Coach Reflection and Impact Survey (Yopp et al., 2010). I analyzed teacher and coach survey data at the mid-point and the end-point of the program. I also compared matched pairs of first-year teachers and instructional coaches who completed end-of-program surveys. Only one factor, Student-Centered Discussions, produced statistically and practically significant results. However, one additional factor, Impact of Coaching, resulted in practical significance.
In the qualitative phase of the study, two teachers and their coaches who completed both the mid-program and end-of-program surveys participated in semi-structured interviews to share further insight into the impact of virtual coaching. The qualitative data revealed that six of seven partnership principles (equality, voice, choice, praxis, dialogue, and reflection) positively impacted virtual coaching partnerships. Additionally, mentoring and gratitude emerged as themes outside of the theoretical framework. When applied together, the identified partnership principles and student-centered discussions positively impacted first-year teachers’ professional growth.