Coaching and the Growth of Three New Zealand Educators: a Multi-dimensional Journey
Murrihy, L. R. (2009). Coaching and the Growth of Three New Zealand Educators: a Multi-dimensional Journey (Thesis, Doctor of Education (EdD)). The University of Waikato, Hamilton, New Zealand. Retrieved from http://hdl.handle.net/10289/3977
Permanent Research Commons link: http://hdl.handle.net/10289/3977
This qualitative research project began with the question of whether coaching assists the growth and development of educators in the multiple dimensions of the spiritual, emotional, social and conceptual/intellectual. The project followed three participants through a nine month master's level Coaching and Mentoring Paper (PROF507Y-05) and revisited them a year later. Data was gathered largely through a series of semi-structured interviews as conversations in a narrative inquiry approach with educational criticism as the tool for data analysis. Key narratives emerged through the stories the participants told and these were examined over time to see whether growth and development had taken place. The researcher entered the data gathering phase thinking that the study would focus on participants' involvement in a formalised coaching partnership. However, it quickly became clear that the Coaching and Mentoring Paper was a multi-level professional development intervention that involved coaching partnerships, but also included coaching professional development in which the theories, skills and practices of coaching were purposefully and discretely taught. A third layer of intervention was the action research phase of the Paper in which individuals explored their facilitation of coaching partnerships in their own institutions. The stories of the participants indicated that involvement in coaching partnerships did produce some quite stunning outcomes. However, the findings suggest that coaching partnerships may well be underpowered if coaching partnerships stand alone and are not set within a framework of coaching professional development in which the knowledge, skills and processes of coaching are purposefully taught, scaffolded, practiced and reflected upon, in which roles are reciprocal and the professional development/coaching process is facilitated. In fact, the evidence from this research project suggests that though involvement in a formal coaching partnership did assist the achievement of professional goals as Robertson (2005) posited, it was largely the facilitated coaching professional development process that assisted the growth and development across the social, emotional, conceptual/intellectual and spiritual dimensions of each research participants as they implemented the coaching practices across a range of professional and personal contexts. Unexpectedly, but in hindsight not surprisingly, out of growth and development, leadership emerged. Similar to John West-Burnham (2001), this study found that for these three research participants, interpersonal intelligence and leadership, [were] in such a symbiotic relationship that they [were] actually tautological (p. 1). This was not positional or hierarchical leadership, but leadership that acknowledged individuals as 'whole' people and where leadership was increasingly distributed and shared with others. However, it would be dishonest to stop here because the participants' narratives are not fairy tales in which everyone lives happily ever after. Though significant growth and development did take place, it was a case of both/and - the participants stories continued to be of both success and struggle with the selfsame issues. This thesis proposes therefore, that change is not a destination, but is an ongoing process of remaining open to the learning that can be found in each and every human experience, whether it is of failure or success. Growth and development or change is not an end point which is revealed through consistent adherence to a particular way of being, but is revealed through an openness to learn from all experience and in the capacity to keep a particular narrative going over time. Thus the answer to the question this thesis started with is yes. For these particular individuals, coaching did assist the growth and development in the multiple dimensions. However, here 'coaching' means more than just involvement in a coaching partnership, but a multilayered professional development intervention as outlined above, and change or growth and development that is defined, not as a permanent transformation, but as an ongoing journey of seeking what can be learned from every experience.
The University of Waikato
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