Coaches play the key role in guaranteeing the instructional improvement in educational institutions. The reason is that literacy and mathematics coaches work to provide teachers with the necessary training, support, and feedback regarding instructional activities. It is important to note that instructional coaches provide teachers with the supervision and assistance that are required to improve the performance (Collet, 2012).
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Still, the effectiveness of instructional coaches’ work can be perceived by administrators, leaders, and teachers differently since coaches’ responsibilities and performance are various in schools (Fullan & Knight, 2011). The purpose is to identify the performance problem associated with instructional coaches’ activities and complete the problem analysis.
Instructional Coaches’ Performance and Approaches to Needs Assessment
The problem is in the fact that instructional coaches’ responsibilities and performance can differ in district schools. In spite of the fact that coaches are usually responsible for improving the instructions and providing the support for teachers, their performance cannot be equally high in different schools (Grant, Green, & Rynsaardt, 2010). Several approaches are developed for instructional designers in order to conduct the needs assessment and complete the performance analysis that is related to instructional coaches’ work.
Thus, Mager proposed twelve detailed steps based on the guiding questions in order to conduct the performance analysis. Rossett focused on evaluating the current needs and monitoring the observed changes in them. Smith and Ragan determined such important steps as the analysis, strategy, and evaluation (Davis, 2013; Kretlow & Bartholomew, 2010).
Morrison, Ross, and Kemp (2012) proposed four steps for the needs analysis, including planning, data collection, data analysis, and the report preparation. It is possible to state that Morrison, Ross, and Kemp’s approach is most effective to conduct the analysis of the performance problem with the focus on the needs assessment as this model allows the complex assessment of the intervention and performance.
Needs Assessment Based on Morrison, Ross, and Kemp’s Approach
According to Morrison, Ross, and Kemp’s needs assessment model, the first stage is planning. At this stage, it is necessary to focus on the stakeholders and areas that should be analyzed in the first place (Morrison et al., 2012). Stakeholders who should be involved in the needs assessment are district-level administrators, school-level leaders, and classroom teachers. These participants should work in different districts in order to provide the information regarding situations in various environments. Interviews should be conducted in order to gather the data regarding the stakeholders’ perceptions of instructional coaches’ roles and performance.
District-level administrators, school-level leaders, and classroom teachers should be contacted in order to participate in interview sessions. The questions should be focused on the participants’ perceptions of instructional coaches’ roles, the quality of their performance, met or non-met expectations, the quality of lessons, and the level of the provided supervision (Morrison et al., 2012; Ross, Morrison, & Lowther, 2010).
The analysis of the received information leads to the understanding that stakeholders have different perceptions regarding coaches’ roles and effectiveness of their performance. Thus, it is important to note that district-level administrators assign coaches for the purpose of improving the instructions, lessons, and the overall quality of education (Marsh, McCombs, & Martorell, 2010). In their turn, school-level leaders expect that coaches will conduct supervision and perform some administrative functions, provide the training for teachers, and conduct sessions to influence the level of teachers’ instructions (Ross et al., 2010).
Classroom teachers expect that coaches will provide them with the support and necessary educational materials, assist in organizing lessons, and provide the feedback (Stormont, Reinke, Newcomer, Marchese, & Lewis, 2015). Still, it is possible to observe that district-level administrators and school-level leaders do not use the potential of coaches for conducting the supervision and performing administrative tasks.
In addition, teachers can note that the coaches’ assistance is inefficient, and school-level leaders can conclude that coaches are not able to guarantee the instructional improvement in the institution (Ross et al., 2010). The disparities in the stakeholders’ perceptions of coaches’ roles and effectiveness demonstrate that there is a problem, and the coaches’ performance does not correspond to the stakeholders’ expectations.
At this stage, it is important to state how the needs assessment can be utilized to address the identified performance problem. The needs assessment reports usually include recommendations to solve the problem (Kretlow & Bartholomew, 2010). In this case, the needs assessment identifies drawbacks in utilizing the potential of instructional coaches, and the following recommendations can be proposed:
- administrators should clearly state coaches’ responsibilities with the focus on instructional and administrative activities;
- school leaders should control coaches’ performance in terms of completing instructional plans;
- coaches should be informed regarding specific roles that they are expected to perform at school;
- teachers should report regarding the effectiveness of coaches’ assistance and appropriate or inappropriate changes in lesson models.
Performance Problem and Psychological, Cultural, Political, and Technological Factors
The following problem was identified as a result of the needs assessment: although coaches are intended to provide the high-quality instructional support and supervision for teachers, there is a disparity in district-level administrators, individual school-level leaders, and classroom teachers’ perceptions of instructional coaches’ roles and performance effectiveness in K-12 classrooms. The needs analysis indicates that the quality or accuracy of the instructional assistance and supervision are often low, as it is noted by teachers, leaders, and administrators.
Administrators, leaders, and teachers can have different perceptions regarding roles of coaches because of the fact that specific responsibilities or duties of instructional coaches are not determined strictly. As a result, stakeholders’ expectations and coaches’ performance differ significantly in spite of the fact that coaches work to improve the quality of instructions at schools (Fullan & Knight, 2011). This problem requires the further solution since the low instructional quality or rigor leads to decreasing the quality of education at schools where the coaches’ performance is inappropriate.
This performance problem can be influenced by such factors as psychological, cultural, political, and technological ones. Psychological factors that can influence the quality of the instructional support are the lack of skills in coaches and teachers. On the one hand, coaches can have underdeveloped skills in modeling lessons and selecting effective instructions, and they can reject providing the instructional assistance or feedback to teachers (Morrison et al., 2012; Stormont et al., 2015).
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On the other hand, classroom teachers can resist accepting coaches’ comments while assessing their performance as low. The cultural factor includes the impact of the culture and society along with the organizational culture’s impact on the person. In this context, the organizational culture and rules in the educational institution influence the distribution of coaches’ roles and expectations regarding their performance (Fullan & Knight, 2011). In some schools, instructional coaches are perceived as unnecessary because of the inadequate distribution of instructors’ roles. In addition, differences in cultures affect the barriers to communication between coaches, leaders, and teachers.
Political factors that can affect the performance include the implementation of educational policies and funding to recruit two or more instructional coaches in a school. Thus, the performance of coaches, as well as leaders and teachers’ perceptions, can be influenced by the regulations associated with coaches’ roles and budget issues. If the budget is limited, coaches cannot provide teachers with the instructional material (Gallucci, Van Lare, Yoon, & Boatright, 2010).
Technological factors are also important to influence stakeholders’ perceptions and visions, as well as the actual performance of coaches. It is important to note that both coaches and teachers can be resistant to using innovative technologies in their lessons. This position influences the quality of the provided instructions. This factor can also be associated with the previous one in terms of limiting the use of technologies because of the restricted budget.
The needs analysis conducted according to Morrison, Ross, and Kemp’s model indicates that district administrators, school leaders, and classroom teachers have different options regarding instructional coaches’ roles, and these perceptions influence their assessment of the coaches’ performance. Thus, factors that can include stakeholders’ perceptions are psychological, cultural, political, and technological ones. Moreover, these aspects also influence the coaches’ performance that can be assessed by stakeholders as low.
The analysis demonstrates that the assessment depends not only on the overall quality of the coaches’ work but also on the stakeholders’ expectations regarding the performance that can be influenced by the mentioned factors. From this point, it is possible to speak about a significant problem in the evaluation of coaches’ performance and roles, and this problem requires the solution with the focus on recommendations that are provided regarding the statement of duties and monitoring of coaches’ performance.
Performance Intervention Design and Development Models
In order to guarantee the performance improvement, it is necessary to adopt the effective performance design model and organize the intervention to address the determined problems. It is possible to identify such design models as the ADDIE model, Kemp’s model, and Dick and Carey’s model among others (Blackman, 2010; Davis, 2013). Still, the discussion of the performance problem related to the roles of instructional coaches should also be conducted in the context of the instructional coaching model that determines the coach’s roles, planning, cooperation, and coordination of activities (Kulich, 2014).
The purpose of this stage of the performance improvement project is to select the design model and apply it to the organization of the instructional coaching model with the focus on learning theories, design techniques, and objectives.
The Learning Theory and Design Model
The performance problem associated with the roles and effectiveness of instructional coaches can be explained with references to the adult learning theories. The reason is that the adult learning theories are effective to explain how individuals can gain the knowledge and develop their skills. In this context, it is relevant to refer to the self-directed adult learning theory (Wendt & Evers, 2014). According to this approach, adults are inclined to take initiatives while learning, and they are interested in studying well. This fact can add to the development of their experience and skills (Saphier & West, 2010).
In the context of applying the instructional coaching model, this theory can be used in the form of conducting self-assessments for coaches and teachers in order to determine the effectiveness of instructional activities. It is also possible to find the impact of these strategies on the students’ learning process (Wendt & Evers, 2014).
In addition, this theory can be used in order to motivate stakeholders to participate in the changes with the help of determining objectives and predicting outcomes of improving the performance and overcoming the problem. In this context, the design model that is selected for addressing the problem of understanding coaches’ roles is Kemp’s model (Morrison et al., 2012). It is important to note that this model was proposed by Morrison, Ross, and Kemp who formulated the needs assessment approach that is used in this project.
Instructional Design Techniques
In order to address the performance problem, it is necessary to apply the instructional coaching model that should be modified according to the principles of Kemp’s model. The role of the instructional designer is to prepare the content that should be correlated with the selected framework. This content should be effective in order to achieve the set goals (Teemant, Wink, & Tyra, 2011).
The role of stakeholders is to participate in the intervention activities and work on improving the used instructions (Reinke, Stormont, Herman, & Newcomer, 2014). In order to organize the elements of the model in the appropriate manner, it is also relevant to refer to the ADDIE model’s components: analysis, design, development, implementation, and evaluation (Davis, 2013). The analysis technique includes assessing the level of stakeholders’ readiness to participate in the intervention and change.
The design techniques involve selecting instructional strategies to address psychological, political, cultural, and technological factors that can prevent stakeholders from learning and effective performance (Davis, 2013; Onyon, 2012). Thus, coaches and teachers should be informed about collaboration techniques they can use in order to receive the instructional support and provide the feedback.
It is also important to state that the technology should be used in the project in order to demonstrate what strategies coaches and teachers can utilize. Technology can be regarded as an effective tool in order to improve the teachers’ instructions. The use of videos, slides, and projectors can be appropriate in order to guide the stakeholders’ learning and demonstrate how they can use these technologies in their work (Penuel, Fishman, Cheng, & Sabelli, 2011).
In order to guarantee the successful learning and positive changes in the performance after the intervention, it is also necessary to utilize the available resources and strategies in the most efficient manner. These resources and strategies can include the identification of policies and initiatives that determine coaches’ roles in order to guarantee the stakeholders’ awareness of this aspect (Denton & Hasbrouck, 2009). It is also necessary to promote the collaboration and reflection among stakeholders according to the principles of the adult learning theory (Gatti-Petito, Lakatos, Bradley, Cook, & Haight, 2013).
Thus, leaders, coaches, and teachers should understand what level of responsibility they have, what actions they should perform, and what outcomes are expected in terms of instructional activities and students’ performance.
Purpose, Learning Objectives, and Activities
It is possible to note that coaching is important for teachers and students in order to determine what areas that are related to the instructions should be improved. The purpose of the performance intervention is to increase the effectiveness of instructional coaches’ work in different school districts and change the perceptions and attitudes of administrators, school leaders, and classroom teachers to the problem (Craddock, O’Halloran, McPherson, Hean, & Hammick, 2013; Gross, 2012).
As a result, the learning objectives for this project include the following ones: (a) by the end of the intervention, stakeholders will change expectations regarding coaches’ roles according to the determined duties; (b) by the end of the intervention, coaches will perform according to their roles; (c) by the end of the intervention, the coaches’ performance will improve. For the purpose of this intervention, the instructional coaching model should be supported with the steps and activities related to Kemp’s model and ADDIE model.
The first step is planning that includes the identification of instructional problems and learners’ characteristics (Morrison et al., 2012). At this stage, it is necessary to refer to the results of the needs assessment and determine problems that are related to the disparities in the stakeholders’ perceptions that need to be resolved with the help of the intervention. Much attention should be paid to the identification of learners’ characteristics (Penuel et al., 2011). In this case, stakeholders are characterized by the self-oriented approach to learning and the resistance associated with the lack of skills in professional areas. They also have the resistance to using technologies.
The second step is the implementation that includes the determination of the content, goals, purposes, and objectives for the intervention (Morrison et al., 2012). The identification of the objectives that were mentioned above is related to this stage directly. The next step is the project management that includes arranging instructional units, determining instructional strategies, and developing the concrete instructions (Denton & Hasbrouck, 2009; Morrison et al., 2012).
For this research, it is important to note that this step is based on ensuring that stakeholders receive the information regarding roles of instructional coaches, the resources available to them, the foundations of coaching, the principles of the adult learning, the particular duties, and the approaches to supporting teachers’ activities. One more step that needs to be followed is the evaluation (Morrison et al., 2012; Wendt & Evers, 2014). At this stage, it is necessary to choose the specific evaluation instruments in order to measure possible changes in the performance and stakeholders’ perceptions of coaches’ roles.
The application of Kemp’s design model is important in order to change administrators, leaders, and classroom teachers’ perceptions regarding instructional coaches’ roles and the quality of their performance. If coaches’ roles are not declared and accentuated in the educational institution, the unawareness and misunderstanding can lead to the educators’ resistance to accepting the coaches’ activities. Kemp’s design model that is used to support the instructional coaching model is important to provide concrete steps that should be taken in order to help stakeholders understand the roles of coaches and focus on the effective evaluation of their performance.
The adult learning can become a problematic task for educational leaders, but the application of Kemp’s model in a form of a cycle is important to provide coaches and leaders with the necessary information and ensure positive changes in the performance.
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