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Coaching for professional growth in one Australian school: “oil in water”

Deborah M. Netolicky (Department of Education, Murdoch University, Murdoch, Australia)

International Journal of Mentoring and Coaching in Education

ISSN: 2046-6854

Article publication date: 6 June 2016



The purpose of this paper is to build knowledge around the use of coaching to develop teachers’ professional practice in schools. It surfaces insider perspectives of teachers and school leaders in one Australian school, during the development of a model for teacher growth, which used a combination of cognitive coaching and the Danielson Framework for Teaching.


A narrative approach to interview data were used to examine the perspectives of 14 educators – teachers and school leaders – involved in the implementation of a school-based cognitive coaching model.


This study found that being a coach is an empowering and identity-shaping experience, that coaching for empowerment and capacity building benefits from a non-hierarchical relationship, and that coaching can be enhanced by the use of additional tools and approaches. Implementing a school-based cognitive coaching model, in conjunction with the Danielson Framework for Teaching, can have unexpected impacts on individuals, relationships, and organizations. As described by a participant, these butterfly effects can be non-linear, like “oil in water.”


In examining teacher and school leader perceptions of a coaching model that trusts teachers’ capacity to grow, this paper shows what coaching and being coached can look like in context and in action. It reveals that cognitive coaching and the Danielson Framework for Teaching can be congruent tools for positive teacher and organizational growth, requiring a slow bottom-up approach to change, an organizational culture of trust, and coaching relationships free from judgment or power inequity. It additionally shows that the combination of being a coach, and also being coached, can facilitate empowerment, professional growth, and changes in belief and practice.



Netolicky, D.M. (2016), "Coaching for professional growth in one Australian school: “oil in water”", International Journal of Mentoring and Coaching in Education, Vol. 5 No. 2, pp. 66-86.



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