Changing language, changing beliefs
Wall, Heather McLeod
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The discourse used by instructional coaches can have an impact on their relationships with teachers and thus influences their effects on instruction and student achievement within schools. Building on critical theory and Fairclough’s (2014) Critical Discourse Analysis, this participatory action research study engaged three coaches and the researcher in collaborative discussions about their videotaped coaching sessions. Participants adopted a reflexive stance to explore the ways teachers and coaches communicated, the effects of specific discursive moves in these interactions, and the ways in which power was shared or withheld among participants. The author describes the findings of this study in three independent yet inter-related manuscripts. In the first manuscript, Courage to Love: Coaching Dialogically Toward Teacher Empowerment, the author and another instructional coach from the study discuss applying Freire’s (1993) conditions for dialogue as a tool for creating empowering, effective collaborations between instructional coaches and teachers. They share examples of ways that Freire’s conditions of love, humility, faith in humankind, hope, and critical thinking create dialogical spaces in which teachers and coaches can work in partnership. The second manuscript, Changing Language, Changing Beliefs: A Case Study in Coach Reflexivity, explores one coach’s reflexivity over three years as she participated in reflective conversations after videotaping her coaching sessions. Findings demonstrate that the conversations supported her in developing more nuanced views of the coaching role and an increased awareness of the impact of her discourse on teachers. As the coach deliberately adjusted her discourse with teachers, her beliefs about teachers’ capabilities changed, suggesting that a change in discourse can lead to a change in beliefs. In the third manuscript, Leading Lesson Study: Navigating Facilitation Roles in Inquiry-Based Professional Learning, the researcher used Bereiter’s (1994) concept of progressive discourse as a framework for examining the role of facilitator during lesson study sessions. Findings demonstrate that the facilitator primarily acted within the roles of Instructor, Questioner, and Participant, each of which provided specific allowances and constraints to the lesson study process. Implications drawn from all three articles point to the importance of community building, discourse strategies, and enhanced reflexivity for instructional coaches in schools.