Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Educational Leadership, Research and Technology

First Advisor

Dr. Walter L. Burt

Second Advisor

Dr. Patricia Reeves

Third Advisor

Dr. Anne Hansen


Coaching, instructional coaching, content-focused coaching, veteran teachers


This research is a qualitative case study analysis of the experiences of six, veteran, English Language Arts teachers, and three, first-year, English Language Arts instructional coaches all of whom are implementing a district-mandated reform strategy called Content-Focused Coaching. The settings for this research study were three Persistently Lowest Achieving middle schools. The researcher began the data collection process with the organization of Professional Learning Community agendas and minutes. Following the organization of PLC meeting agendas and minutes, four categories were identified that were used as criteria for classroom observations as well as in assisting in organizing responses collected during the interview process. The one-on-one interviews consisted of open-ended questions with follow-up questions designed to unveil experiences that the teachers had while being coached as well as the experiences they had implementing the strategies with students. This process of subsuming particulars into more general classes lead to discoveries of five larger themes.

Findings from this study provided evidence that the actual amount of coaching time veteran teachers receive varies across buildings; veteran teachers receive less overall coaching time than the more novice teachers do. As reported by both teachers and coaches, this study also found the overall application of coaching as a reform strategy at these schools to be essentially voluntary in nature for the veteran teachers in terms of the amount of coaching they received as well as their implementation of instructional strategies. Furthermore, this study found patterns in both one-on-one interviews and classroom observations suggesting veteran teachers and coaches had different expectations for students, especially related to designing and implementing rigorous tasks for students. Additionally, although both veteran teachers and coaches claimed to value Content-Focused Coaching as a reform strategy, neither group could point to an increase in student achievement data after one year of implementation. Finally, this study discovered that the veteran teachers felt that the most significant barrier to effective coaching involved the coach’s level of experience working in an at-risk, urban environment while the coaches in this study felt the most significant barrier to successful implementation of Content-Focused Coaching was the lack of administrative support involving resistant teachers. This study recommends three areas for future research and one recommendation for future practice.

Access Setting

Dissertation-Open Access