Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Educational Leadership, Research and Technology

First Advisor

Dr. Patricia L. Reeves

Second Advisor

Dr. Jessaca Spybrook

Third Advisor

Dr. Erika Hunt


Coaching, leadership coaching, school coaching, developing coaches, coach learning


In 2017, the US Department of Education awarded Western Michigan University (WMU) a Supporting Educator Effectiveness Development (SEED) grant to fund the High-Impact Leadership for School Renewal (HIL) Project. The purpose of the HIL Project is to recruit and prepare school leaders with the skills associated with instructional leadership for improving school conditions that support student achievement. Through the use of school leadership coaches (called Implementation Facilitators in the HIL Project) trained on an adaptive school leadership coaching model, the HIL Project seeks to address one of the most challenging aspects of school leadership: developing and sustaining the HIL Model for Continuous School Renewal (HIL Model).

This study investigates a new line of inquiry related to how school leadership coaches draw upon their personal knowledge, skills, and dispositions associated with previous professional experiences as they support the leadership development needed to implement a school renewal initiative. This study utilized a multiple case study design to follow and describe experiences of school leadership coaches as they work with their schools to learn about and apply the HIL Model and capture all relevant contextual features associated with each case. However, this study design adapted those techniques common to multiple case studies to incorporate techniques associated with grounded theory. This design supported a new line of inquiry with limited empirical research, and facilitated both the thick rich descriptive characteristics of case study plus the emergence of elements that could lead to theory development.

Findings from this study suggest an alternative way to understand the critical features of the onboarding process for school leadership coaches. Features suggested by this study as significant influences on the development of leadership coaches emphasizes personal knowledge and personal dispositions as two distinct ways in which new leadership coaches acclimate to their role. Findings from this study further suggest that these two ways of forming personal identity influences both how new coaches understand a given school leadership coaching model and the behaviors they chose to engage in to employ the model. Results suggest a broad set of implications including how leadership coaches are hired, trained, and supported by the designers and leaders of a given leadership coaching model.

Access Setting

Dissertation-Open Access