Investigative case study on the experience of teachers of a coaching process

Van Schalkwyk, Sharon Lesley (2012-03)

Thesis (MPhil)--Stellenbosch University, 2012.


Teachers in South Africa currently operate within an education system largely failing to equip our youth to attain personal and economic freedom, while, as individuals, the teachers have to manage their own lives within the broader environment characterised by continuous educational and social change, economic difficulties and dysfunctional schools. With coaching emerging as a catalyst for change and development, the literature reveals that, locally and internationally, coaching programmes aimed at assisting teachers focus on professional development. Less focus is placed on the development of teachers in their personal capacity as an enabler towards professional development. The focus of this study is to coach teachers in their personal capacity and to gain an understanding of how the teachers make meaning of their experiences. This research answers the question of how teachers experience a coaching interaction. The research design was that of a case study to obtain descriptive data about the experiences of the teachers. With the focus on understanding how the teachers interpret and make meaning of their experiences, the methodology of the study is qualitative, informed by the phenomenological tradition of social research. The research process entailed coaching of a small sample of six teachers from one primary school and the collection of data through field notes, the teachers’ reflective notes and qualitative interviews. The data was analysed and coded to identify themes from multiple perspectives of the data and across the data. The initial analysis of the data revealed themes specific to the individual teachers, while indepth analysis across the data revealed general coaching outcomes related themes. With reference to the coded themes, the study found that the coaching process provided the environment (safe space) and opportunity (time to think) to facilitate awareness of the teachers’ current reality (thinking and behaviour), awareness of their own resources (new thinking, internal learning, choice) and awareness of possibilities of different realities (change). Change through awareness and new thinking emerged as the main theme. Not all the data was positive, providing useful recommendation for the improvement of future coaching interventions of a similar nature. While the research design and context of the study limited the generalisation of the findings, the study achieved its aim of obtaining rich descriptive data about the experiences of the teachers of a coaching interaction. Within the confines of the context of the study, the findings pointed to the potential of coaching to facilitate initial change and development for teachers in their personal capacity. The value that the teachers put on their coaching experiences confirmed the gap for coaching teachers in their personal capacity. Evidence of the teachers applying their learning from the coaching interaction in their family and professional lives indicated the possibilities of outcomes beyond this study.

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