Literacy Coaches December 2017 Blog

Preservice Teachers and Literacy Coaching: 

What Can We Learn from The Coaching with CARE Model?


          Last month we explored the topic of preservice teachers and their experiences, or lack thereof, with literacy coaches. Our objective was to begin to unpack the question of why literacy coaches are sometimes viewed as evaluators rather than collaborators who share a vision of student success.

         We looked to the research and found few studies that engaged preservice teachers with literacy coaches; however we did find an interesting series of studies regarding the Coaching with CARE  Model (Maloch, Mosley, Wetzel, & Hoffman, 2015).  This multi-year, multi-phase, longitudinal study explored a model for honing the coaching skills of cooperating teachers (CTs) in a literacy-focused master’s program with preservice teachers (PTs).  The model also highlighted the use of video analysis to engage PTs in in coaching conversation that resulted in deep analysis and reflection.  This month, we will explore this series of studies to posit the potential benefits that arise from partnering PTs with CTs trained in best practice literacy method, or literacy coaches, before entering the field.

         The Coaching with CARE (Critical Thinking, Appreciative Stances, Reflection, Experiential Learning) Model began as a response to concerns that CTs rarely receive formal training before supervising PTs, often leading to a partnership that is evaluative and linear rather than reflective and recursive (Hoffman et al., 2015).  The authors drew from studies of situated learning and communities of practice (Lave 1991, 1996; Lave & Wenger, 1991; Wenger, 1998) and posited that discussing and analyzing challenges related to coaching PTs would lead teachers to become more flexible in their coaching conversations and, in doing so, to allow space for students to be reflective about their teaching.

          In the first phase of their study, Maloch, Mosley, Wetzel, & Hoffman (2015) followed 10 in-service teachers as they completed a literacy specialization with courses on each of the following:  literacy methods, coaching and mentoring, and classroom discourse.  During this time, training teachers also worked with PTs, using time during their coursework to reflect on and analyze their coaching conversations.

         Teachers noted three critical components of this work:  1) an online blog used to respond to readings, 2) sharing sessions that took place during each class, and 3) debriefing with colleagues about videotaped coaching videos (Maloch, Mosley, Wetzel, & Hoffman, 2015).  Combined, these opportunities allowed teachers to seek support, address difficulties, and collectively respond to and reflect on their experiences.  Further, the authors noted the critical importance of the video sessions as an opportunity to “notice and name” what they were learning in their university coursework.  The authors concluded that engaging in reflective discourse, as part of a community of practice, extended beyond the university setting and into the classroom – specifically making their coaching conversations deeper and more reflective.  Further, they noted the potential that the Coaching with CARE model offers to improve the outcomes of teacher preparation programs.

          In two subsequent studies (Wetzel, Maloch, & Hoffman, 2016; Wetzel, Maloch, Hoffman, Taylor, Khan Vlach, & Greet, 2015), authors honed in on the value CTs attributed to viewing and collaboratively discussing videos of coaching conversations and conjectured that this same type of video analysis would be beneficial to PTs, as well.  In this case, retrospective video analysis (RVA), defined as recording, viewing, and identifying strategies, was implemented to enhance coaching conversations and provide spaces for CTs and PTs to reflect more deeply on lesson outcomes.  The acronym GLAD was chosen to explain the types of questions that guided this work:  “1)  Generative:  Leads to expansive learning, 2)  Learner-focused:  focuses on the students, 3)  Appreciative:  notices and names strategic work, and 4)  Disruptive: identifies challenges and tensions” (Wetzel, Maloch, & Hoffman, 2016, p. 536).

           Across the two studies, the authors (Wetzel, Maloch, & Hoffman, 2016; Wetzel, Maloch, Hoffman, Taylor, Khan Vlach, & Greet, 2015) concluded that engaging in video analysis improved PTs abilities to notice and name strategies in their teaching, as well as to reflect on various other variables that might affect student learning outcomes such as gesture and facial expression, indicating a deeper analysis and understanding than could be reached with a simple post lesson discussion.

          After considering the series of studies above, we returned to the question of how we can engage PTs with coaching models before entering the classroom to increase their comfort with such a model when they enter their own classrooms.  We drew two conclusions from these studies: 1)  As is so often true, teachers may require intensive and ongoing professional development in literacy methods and coaching practices to improve their work with PTs; and 2)  Engaging students in deeper analysis of lessons through methods such as RVA has the potential to improve both the outcome of teacher preparation programs and students’ comfort level with coaching activities when they eventually enter the classroom.

          We question how to provide this training and whether teachers would be interested in such extensive work.  Further, we wonder what exists in the field.  Are CTs engaging in reflective coaching with preservice teachers?  Is RVA becoming part of that work?  We would love to hear from you.  What is the experience of PTs in your schools?  Are they given opportunities to build their reflective skills and consider the nuances of teaching?  If yes, how so?  Let’s continue the conversation!


References Cited

Lave, J. (1991). Situating learning in communities of practice. In Resnick, L., Levine, J., Teasley, S. (Eds.), Perspectives on socially shared cognition (pp. 63–82). Washington, DC: AmericanPsychological Association.

 Lave, J. (1996). Teaching, as learning, in practice. Mind, Culture, and Activity, 3, 149–164.

Lave, J., Wenger, E. (1991). Situated learning: Legitimate peripheral participation. New York, NY: Cambridge University Press.

Maloch, B., Wetzel, M. M., Hoffman, J. V., A. Taylor, L., Pruitt, A., Vlach, S. K., & Greeter, E.(2015). The appropriation of the coaching with care model with preservice teachers: The
role of community. Literacy Research: Theory, Method, and Practice64(1), 339-358.

Mosley Wetzel, M., Maloch, B., & Hoffman, J. V. (2017). Retrospective Video Analysis: A Reflective Tool for Teachers and Teacher Educators. The Reading Teacher70(5), 533-542.

Mosley Wetzel, M., Maloch, B., Hoffman, J. V., Taylor, L. A., Vlach, S. K., & Greeter, E. (2015). Developing mentoring practices through video-focused responsive discourse analysis. Literacy Research: Theory, Method, and Practice64(1), 359-378.

Wenger, E. (1998). Communities of practice: Learning, meaning, and identity.
New York,NY: Cambridge University Press.

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