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Research network for coaching and mentoring in education - 2019

Associated with this year’s Coaching in Education Conference was the Australian meeting of The International Research Network for Coaching and Mentoring in Education. Three host academics (Professor Christian van Nieuwerburgh, Professor Rachel Lofthouse and Dr Jim Knight) delivered short presentations on some of their own research also made themselves available to support the researchers in the room. Dr Deborah Netolicky also spoke about her research from the point of view of a ‘pracademic” and was able to show the group her brand new book “Transformational professional learning: Making a difference in schools” (2019, Routledge) which was later a sell-out at the conference bookstore.

A key theme of the network is to identify effective research methods for investigating coaching and mentoring effectiveness. Participants presented their research plans to the group for feedback and comment. The research topics themselves demonstrated the range of applications of coaching in education, however they shared a focus on gathering an evidence base for coaching effectiveness and what methodologies were best suited to this.

Practitioners researching in their own schools included Iain Henderson, Wellington College UK and international, who is looking at the impact of an embedded coaching model which he started eight years ago, and the best way of measuring that impact. Paul Bennett from Howick College New Zealand is researching the implementation of school-wide coaching at his school. Mark Dowley and Ray Swann from Brighton Grammar School in Victoria also have a school wide embedded model and are gathering a range of data to keep demonstrating the impact at school level, in classrooms and for student outcomes.

Pre or early doctoral students included Mary-Clare Relihan from Faculty of Education at Monash University, exploring the gap between mentoring policy / frameworks and ITE assessment and how to move professional conversations away from practical performance or effectiveness to pedagogical approaches that support pre-service teachers and mentors. GCI Director Claudia Owad is researching integrated positive psychology and coaching in school environments. Claudia’s research will look at the role of self-determination theory and hope theory, among other factors.

Presenters further down the track with their doctoral studies included Judy Cooper, Principal of Nexus International School in Singapore, who is researching how coach training, expertise and practice influences leadership. Judy proposed a three part typology for schools using coaching, from one which has firm foundations, but not yet experienced substantial coaching training, through schools where there is the ‘lone coach’, to the ‘coaching school’ where there is intentional use of coaching in a sustainable model, leading to a coaching culture.

Andrea Stringer, newly appointed GCI Managing Consultant for NSW/ACT, is a doctoral student at the Gonski Institute at UNSW, researching early career teachers' professional growth. This research entails reviewing standards and different conceptions of quality teaching and exploring psychological capital framework, self-determination theory framework for coaching, early career teachers’ view of coaching and motivation.

Catriona Elek from Melbourne Graduate School, University of Melbourne, is investigating coaching interactions in early childhood education, and is Interested to find out how coaching influences learning and change for early childhood educators. Some theories employed here include the interconnected model of professional growth (Clarke and Hollingsworth), self-determination theory (Deci and Ryan) and transformational Learning (Mezirow).

Elaine Pang from University of Nottingham (Malaysia Campus) is involved in a research project on School Improvement Partners and School Improvement Specialist Coaches to inform the third wave of a national education policy rollout, the Malaysian Education Blueprint 2013-2025 which includes a focus on teacher education.

Linda McNeil, Director of Linda McNeil Consulting, is looking at improving parent engagement and her research questions seek to determine whether growth coaching training influences the ways that principals interact with parents. Linda sees scope here for employing Jim Knight’s partnership principles in parent coaching.

GCI Director Chris Munro spoke about a current GCI research project with aspirant and new school leaders, exploring how they have experienced coaching and how they feel their coaching experience impacted their practice.

The network meeting in Sydney was part of a series of network meetings in 2019 intended to link to and build on a previous July meeting in England and a future one in Kansas on October 5th. Participants from all the international groups are able to connect and share via a dedicated padlet set up by Rachel Lofthouse.

Look for more on the theory of self-determination and coaching (Deci and Ryan), which is commonly referenced in current coaching research, in a later newsletter.

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