Teacher Professional Growth and Instructional Coaching: An Investigation of Approaches Used in Independent Schools

Nill, Louisa, Curriculum and Instruction - School of Education and Human Development, University of Virginia
Pease, Jennifer, ED-CISE, University of Virginia

This Capstone project explored the conceptualization and facilitation of teacher professional growth in independent schools to address the need for a professional growth process at The Dreyfus School (pseudonym), a college-preparatory independent school in the Mid-Atlantic. Recognizing the role of high-quality instruction in student learning, the study investigated professional growth processes at 17 of Dreyfus’s peer schools through survey methods and the implementation of an instructional coaching program at one of Dreyfus’s peer schools, Cooper Academy (pseudonym), through case study methods. Findings revealed varying conceptualizations of and facilitation approaches to professional growth, underscoring the multifaceted nature of professional growth and professional development in independent schools generally and at Cooper. Additionally, findings illustrate that instructional coaching at Cooper is implemented differently between the Middle and Upper Schools, and stakeholders articulated varying assessments of its impact on professional growth. Stemming from the findings, relevant literature, and theoretical and conceptual foundations for the study, recommendations for Dreyfus include: defining a clear vision of professional growth; aligning the professional growth processes with student outcomes; and adopting a structured, mission-aligned approach to instructional coaching. This study offers specific, practical guidance to Dreyfus stakeholders and contributes to a growing body of literature on independent schools.

EDD (Doctor of Education)
independent schools, professional development, professional growth, instructional coaching
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