Fletcher, S. (2013), "Editorial", International Journal of Mentoring and Coaching in Education, Vol. 2 No. 1. https://doi.org/10.1108/ijmce.2013.57402aaa.001Download as .RIS
Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Copyright © 2013, Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Article Type: Editorial From: International Journal of Mentoring and Coaching in Education, Volume 2, Issue 1.
When I sent in the proposal for the SAGE Handbook for Mentoring and Coaching in Education (Fletcher and Mullen, 2012), I had a dream… I would bring together the very best of research into mentoring and into coaching to enable a growth of knowledge and improved practice. I was surprised when just four chapters were submitted that related to “coaching”, since there were 18 about “mentoring”. This was not a global overview that I hoped for and that we, as researchers, need. Of the four chapters relating to coaching we may discount one because a footnote states the authors have used the term coaching to equate to the term mentoring.
As a non-specialist in coaching I felt I was compelled to contribute an overview lest we produce the handbook without one but I was woefully aware that it was not an area where I had undertaken sustained research, as I had into mentoring.
My coaching overview proposes KNOW model (Knowledge, Networking, Orientation, and Wisdom) for education contexts, using “education” in the sense of the Latin educere (to draw out), i.e. the growth of learning. Far from a lockstep mechanistic model that has evolved in some English schools it is closer to those “partnership” ideals that Schön, Showers and Joyce proposed. I do hope you read the SAGE Handbook for Mentoring and Coaching in Education since there are excellent chapters on aspects of mentoring and coaching in education contexts.
In the wake of a handbook, an International Journal for Mentoring and Coaching in Education (IJMCE) was proposed and accepted by Emerald and this is a reflection of their openness to new ideas and a willingness to provide wholehearted support. IJMCE would become a repository for global cutting edge research and practice for mentoring and for coaching in education, where a SAGE Handbook fell short. Sometimes, the jolt of disappointment is what we need to actualize our dreams!
Building on the painstaking research that had gone into authoring the overview for coaching, we would bring together papers to enhance and develop the core learning of educators not just in the States but internationally nor just in the UK, but, eventually, in all corners of the world where coaching occurs. This issue of Volume Two is the first step. While not designed as a special issue on coaching, five papers that were successfully submitted were all, ironically on this theme.
The definition of coaching that aligns with mine, is derived from that proposed by Donald Schön (1988) that coaching between a schoolteacher (and I will add schoolteachers) and school students creates knowledge through questioning and reflective practice upon experimentation. An expert coach does not “favour” one model of coaching above any other as a matter of principle but adapts coaching to the needs of the students (and I would add colleagues) that s/he encounters.
Showers and Joyce (1996, p. 2) offer us further insights into its practice in school. They see it as an experience where colleagues can plan teaching together, pool their resources and practice their newly acquired skills and new strategies more appropriately than their counterparts who work alone. They also point out what coaching is not. It is not “the appropriate mechanism for gauging performance”.
What can we learn from the coaching overview in the SAGE Handbook that can contextualize the papers in this issue? First, where coaching is failing in schools its failure is attributable to the misalignment of coaching's underpinning values with the manner in which it is being used. Showers and Joyce (1996) warned us about using coaching as evaluation of performance. They flagged up the value that coaching brings to education through its capacity to focus dialogue on a co-creation of knowledge about learning. What we read in this first issue of IJMCE in Rachel Lofthouse's and David Leat's research is that coaching in England is now drowned in the onslaught of “performativity” and “managerialism”. The model of coaching adopted in the schools that could have taken on board the flexibility and foresight of CUREE's National Framework for Mentoring and Coaching in England is too often translated into a mechanistic imposition of coaching models from business contexts. Whitmore's GROW model, for example, is not envisaged for enabling the process of learning but for achieving short-term business goals (Goal setting; Reality check; Options available; Wrap up, i.e. what a client will do).
Cheryl James-Ward's paper in this, our second, volume of IJMCE focuses upon coaching for school principals and leads readers to the vital insight that coach and coachee need to be able to collaborate. This is not about “checking up” that a predetermined goal has been achieved. Rosemarye Taylor's, Bryan Zuglder's and Patricia Bowman's paper on literacy coaching in the USA laments the absence of accountability while expounding the benefits of literacy coaching. One hopes that accountability will not translate into “performativity” some educators have been witnessing in England. Christopher Rhodes’ paper, to which I have contributed because my previous research has involved studying the multiplicity of self and self-efficacy (in addition to aspects of coaching in sports and business contexts and mentoring for teachers’ initial and continuing professional development), excites us to a new perspective about coaching for leadership. In Christopher's three-stage model headteachers in schools take on a responsibility for their own professional development through seeking feedback from colleagues as peers.
Finally, we come to Oksana Parylo's, Bryan Zugelder's paper and this really excites me as an editor! Yes, this is a first step … but here we have research into pan global coaching where enquiry has been undertaken in the USA and in Turkey. It is what we should be seeing in IJMCE – “recherche sans frontiers” – research without boundaries in coaching and in mentoring between educational contexts. While it is very interesting and useful to read about mentoring and coaching in a variety of education settings, personally I yearn to understand the impact on the practice of similar coaching and mentoring models in diverse settings and with that in mind, I commend to you the forthcoming Special Issue of IJMCE in 2013.
Overview of the five papers in Issue One, Volume Two
(1) Lofthouse, R. and Leat, D. (2013), “An activity theory perspective on peer coaching”.
The paper is a conceptual exploration of peer coaching through the lens of Cultural Historical Activity Theory (CHAT), with an empirical base for exemplification. It is argues that the results agenda, or performativity culture in many schools is so strong that coaching is either introduced as part of the dominant discourse which meets resistance from staff, or where it develops into a far more organic, “bottom up” approach, it may well clash with managerial cultures which demand accountability and surveillance. Such a clash does not sit well with trust-based coaching partnerships. The contradictions described in the paper suggest that more research is needed to explore how skilled coaches might enable mediation between a meta-discourse of managerialism and the meso- and micro-discourses underpinning meaningful continuing professional learning. The paper can offer encouragement for peer coaches who manage the boundary between trust-based coaching and performativity agendas. CHAT offers a powerful analytical tool for understanding the interactions between peer coaching and organization cultures that emphasize different motives or objects.
(2) James-Ward, C. (2013), “A professional learning community model for leadership coaches”.
The purpose of the study was to determine four principals’ perceived benefits of a coaching experience and their beliefs regarding the most beneficial attributes of a coach. The study utilized a case study design and lived within the boundaries of three consecutive years. The researcher analysed data from her own role as a leadership coach/participant observer, from observations, follow-up notes, and open-ended surveys of participating principals to identify and rank the benefits the principals believed they received from their leadership coaching experience.
Principals identified benefits, corroborated by the researcher's observations and notes, included opportunities to learn things quickly, becoming comfortable with the profession, improving the ability to provide meaningful feedback, developing leadership skills, and managing politics. The most valuable benefit was identified was acquiring practical skills. When selecting coaches for principals one should consider those with noteworthy experiences and success within the position of principal. This may be necessary to ensure their credibility and principal buy-in to the process. Additionally, to ensure that principals can receive the maximum from the experience, there must be a good match between a coach and coachee.
(3) Taylor, R., Zugelder, B. and Bowman, P. (2013), “Iliteracy coach effectiveness: the need for measurement”.
Literacy coaches can play a valuable role in the improvement of student learning outcomes. The authors’ purpose is to describe their time use, student learning, and principals’ understanding leading to advocacy for development of literacy coach effectiveness measures. By analysing four related studies, the authors use quantitative and qualitative methods to develop five themes and the need for measures of effectiveness. In our paper they explore areas of the literacy coach's role, use of coaching time, school principals’ understanding of literacy coaching, and the need for empirical, rather than perceptual research. Findings about the relationship of use of time and student reading outcomes, and perceptions of impediments and enhancements to impact on effectiveness are also discussed.
(4) Rhodes, C. and Fletcher, S. (2013), “Coaching and mentoring: self-efficacy and the journey to leadership in schools”.
The paper points to the importance of coaching and mentoring as the potential scaffolds to create an appreciation of self-efficacy's value through three stages of the headship journey. Whilst increases in self-efficacy can occur through a variety of activities and interactions, active perusal of a component of talent management through mentoring and coaching relationships can serve to ensure loss of human potential. The paper identifies new questions pertaining to the practice of high-quality coaching and mentoring in the journey to leadership in schools and raises further questions pertaining to conceptualization of such learning relationships.
(5) Parylo, O., Zepeda, S. and Abdurrahman, I. (2013), “Teacher peer coaching in American and Turkish schools”.
This study contributes to the international discourse on the different types of teacher professional development by examining cross-national differences in educators’ beliefs about peer coaching. The findings of this study enrich the body of research on peer coaching, particularly focusing on the teachers’ and leaders’ beliefs and perceptions about the adoption and applicability of peer coaching as a form of teacher professional development and calls for further empirical research on teacher peer coaching in the national and international contexts.
The next issue of IJMCE is likely to be my last because I must attend to my health. Issue Three will be a Special Issue edited by our North American Regional Editor. In the meantime, please keep sending in your manuscripts to our journal and do volunteer for reviewing if you have expertise, time – and inclination. I appreciate the enormous contribution reviewers make to these papers we publish in IJMCE.
“Thank You” to our readers for choosing our journal and realizing my dream for it.
Fletcher, S. and Mullen, C. (2012), The SAGE Handbook of Mentoring and Coaching in Education, SAGE, London
Showers, B. and Joyce, B. (1996), “The evolution of peer coaching”, Educational Leadership, Vol. 53, pp. 12-17