Page 66 - Volume 6 - Issue 1 - DBU Journal for K-12 Educational Leadership

64 Sarah Thornton Balarin, EdD Literature Review Instructional Coaching Instructional coaching as a system for job-embedded professional learning has become an essential component of many public schools. According to Knight (2007), instructional coaching can account for as much as a 70% greater success rate above other models of professional learning. Instructional coaches offer a variety of support for teachers, some of which include observation, feedback, modeling, reflection, collaboration, planning, setting goals, problem solving, and emotional support (Poglinco & Bach, 2004). Schools are embracing coaching as an on-site support for teachers and administrators in lieu of the model of sending teachers to outside workshops hosted by third party groups (Johnson & Christensen, 2016). Teacher Leadership While some teacher leaders may hold official titles like instructional coach, literacy coach, grade level lead, department chair, or administrative intern, it is important to distinguish that teachers are not required to hold official titles to have the capacity for leadership. Teacher leaders are those who possess leadership potential, shared vision, and a desire to lead and serve (Gabriel, 2005). A teacher leader is both a leader and a learner who influences school culture, builds and maintains a successful team, assists colleagues in achieving their highest professional potential, assists administrators in providing professional development, and builds a sense of community within the school of shared responsibility for student achievement (Gabriel, 2005). Campus Climate and Culture There is a large body of research to support the principal’s ability to impact campus climate and culture, but very little of the existing research cites the ability of teacher leaders specifically to impact campus climate and culture. Research consistently supports the importance and role of a teacher leader, so many correlations can be made between the work of a teacher leader and that work’s potential impact on campus climate and culture. Day and Leithwood (2007) found that campus climate and culture were most impacted when principals build trust, provide a safe and secure place to work, focus on establishing a positive school culture, and provide opportunities for quality professional learning. The current study aimed to add to this body of research in determining the role instructional coaches can play in the formation of a positive campus climate and culture through the work they do as coaches and teacher leaders rather than as the principal. Impact of Teacher Leadership and Coaching Teacher leaders play a critical role in moving a campus forward and achieving true transformation. Edwards and Hinueber (2015) argue that teacher leaders are only as strong as the administrator who supports them and helps them to build capacity. Maintaining a trusting and respectful culture between teacher leaders and administrators is critical to campus culture. Administrators must be able to trust that teacher leaders will adequately support and represent campus and district initiatives with fidelity, and teacher leaders must feel the support of their administrators through adequate representation of campus administration of teacher interests (Edwards & Hinueber, 2015). Research Design This phenomenological qualitative study was conducted to examine perceptions of participants about how instructional coaches participating in a leadership development group grew in their leadership and how that leadership development may or may not have impacted campus climate and culture. In addition, the current study examined the perceptions of how teachers feel campus culture and climate were impacted by their instructional coaches who participated in the leadership development group. Additionally, the current study aimed to show the process and function used by one campus to build capacity and grow leadership among a group of instructional coaches. One-on-one interviews with research participants were conducted as a means to gather information about participants’ perceptions about their experiences in leadership development and the perceptions of those they served in regard to campus culture and climate. Interviews were conducted with nine educators from the campus