How the Framing of Instructional Coaching as a Lever for Systemic or Individual Reform Influences the Enactment of Coaching

Melinda M. Mangin, Kai Lonnie Dunsmore

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

45 Scopus citations


Purpose: Instructional coaching is framed as both a means for systemic and individual reform. These competing conceptualizations of coaching as a mechanism for change have not been systematically examined, and therefore, we know little about how the framing of instructional coaching initiatives affects the enactment of coaching. In response to this gap in the literature, we examined one district’s efforts to use literacy coaching as a means to facilitate system-wide changes in literacy practice. Our investigation asks: How does the framing of coaching as a lever for systemic and/or individual reform influence the enactment of literacy coaching? Research Methods: Qualitative data were collected from four literacy coaches in one district including time allocation logs, interviews (n = 32), recorded discussions, and written documentation. Additional data related to the coaches’ training program included observations of 22 training sessions, interviews with the program leaders (n = 7) and regional district leader (n = 3), and survey data from training participants. Findings: Although the coaches in this study aimed to support system-wide changes in literacy practice, the training they received framed coaching as a means to support individual learning. In turn, the change strategies that the coaches employed mirrored this theory of change and focused on being responsive to individual teachers’ particular needs, often at the expense of school and district goals. Thus, the findings from this research suggest that the framing of coach roles may influence enactment in consequential ways and raise questions about how coaching can be framed to support both individual and systemic reform. Implications: The findings from this research have implications for the framing of coach roles, the skills and knowledge needed for coaching, and the kinds of professional learning opportunities available to coaches.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)179-213
Number of pages35
JournalEducational Administration Quarterly
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 16 2015

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Public Administration


  • instructional coaching
  • literacy coaching
  • professional development
  • systemic reform
  • teacher leadership


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