Next week I will be traveling to Knoxville, Tennessee to co-present some recent research and other scholarly work at the 2014 annual conference of the Mid-South Educational Research Association.
"Enhancing Instructional Leadership Through Collaborative Coaching: A Multi-Case Study," represents the latest installment in a line of research going back to my own doctoral dissertation at the University of Louisville. That originally study, also discussed in this piece I co-authored with my dissertation advisor, Dr. John Keedy, used concepts from Chris Argyris and Donald Schon's now classic 1974 work, Theory in Practice, to create a visual map for the thinking processes used by effective school principals as they approach their role as instructional leaders.
One of my conclusions from that work is that even highly-skilled school principals need intentional, job-embedded structures to help them reflect at the deepest levels about their work. Inspired by that notion, in 2012 I co-authored a research study with colleagues Janet Hurt, Beckie Stobaugh, and again John Keedy describing our efforts to design a coaching protocol using the theories of practice framework. That article, which appeared in the peer-reviewed journal Qualitative Research in Education, described how we implemented the coaching process with four purposively-selected school principals. While the results varied across the four participants, the coaching process proved a highly-useful tool for enhancing principal's self-reflection about their instructional leadership.
In the latest study, which I will present with my co-authors Tom Stewart (Educational Recovery Leader with the Kentucky Department of Education) and Sara Jennings (teacher from the Bowling Green Independent School District and one of my students in WKU's educational leadership doctoral program), is a reiteration of the 2012 coaching study, but with a twist. For this project, we included six school principals all from the same high-performing rural district and incorporated coaching sessions involving the entire group sharing their theories of practice, reflecting collaboratively, and providing each other feedback.
The results of this new study were also encouraging, further confirming the usefulness of this coaching protocol for supporting principals' leadership development. The group coaching element proved affirming and rewarding for the participants, though its real impact on outcomes was questionable. Our presentation will explore the results and implications for future research.
I will also be sharing findings from Dr. Daryl Hagan's dissertation research on "Catholic School Faculty Meetings: A Case Study Linking Catholic Identity, School Improvement, and Teacher Engagement." Daryl is superintendent of schools in the Catholic Diocese of Evansville, Indiana, and conducted his research under my supervision, graduating from the WKU EdD program in May 2014. I will share findings from his qualitative exploration on how faculty meetings in a high-performing Catholic school help facilitate the promotion of school-wide academic goals and the protection of the school's Catholic identity.
Finally, WKU colleagues and I are co-authors on a number of papers that have emerged from our involvement as external evaluators of the $41 million Race to the Top grant being administered by the Green River (GRREC) and Ohio Valley (OVEC) Educational Cooperatives. My greatest involvement was with a paper describing our efforts to conceptualize and evaluate the grant's personalized learning component, a topic of increasingly intense interest for me. Doctoral student and graduate assistant Trudy-Ann Crossbourne will co-present.