Teacher Coaching is better than Traditional PD by Tricia Breen

You’re doodling on your programming packet, surrounded by bite-sized candy wrappers, wondering if your students have submitted the activity you left with the substitute. The facilitator’s voice drones on. It’s been 3 hours of slides, fluorescent lighting, and silent note-taking. This is the first and only training you will have dedicated to “Effective Behavior Management Strategies” YIKES!

The good news is that in a recent meta-analysis (Kraft, et al, 2017) the authors find that Teacher Coaching is a promising alternative to traditional models of professional development.

We know that the “one and done”, “sit and get” kind of traditional PD programing doesn’t work. Not only is if painful to endure, often times it doesn’t translate into improved teacher practice or student outcomes. While more professional development series are emerging to answer the need for sustained, intensive professional development, Teacher Coaching remains a strong pathway.

In contrast to traditional PD, Teacher Coaching is intended to be individualized, time intensive, embedded, sustained, and focused on discrete skills. That’s where the needle starts to move. When the teacher coaching examined is paired with group trainings, the effects of teacher coaching are even greater on both instruction (0.31 SD) and student achievement (0.12 SD).

By pooling results from across 60 causal studies of teacher coaching programs, the authors conclude Teacher Coaching has a statistically significant effect on both teachers’ instructional practice (0.49 SD) and students’ achievement outcomes (0.18 SD). The effects on instruction and achievement also compare favorably when contrasted with the larger body of literature on teacher PD (Yoon et al., 2007), as well as most other school-based interventions (Fryer, 2016).

These effects on instruction and achievement are persistent and consistent. They underscore the value and impact of Teacher Coaching. Having access to research such as this empowers leaders to choose skillfully the most high impact approaches for improving instruction, increasing achievement, and building capacity in their schools and districts.

Interested to dive more deeply into the findings? Access the full meta-analysis here.

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