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An exploration of the use of coaching and mentoring as a professional development process for primary school emerging leaders: Using science as a context

This study looks at the impact of coaching and mentoring skills, provided through a professional development programme, on developing emerging middle leadership in primary school teachers, where the focus is on science teaching. Emerging leaders play a very important role in supporting and developing other teachers' pedagogy in the implementation of the curriculum and new initiatives into the classroom. The literature illustrates that the skills for coaching and mentoring form a key part of a leader's role, in particular that of an emerging leader where teachers are coaching teachers. These skills can assist in the formation of professional learning communities with a strong focus on the teachers' practice and the enhancement of student learning outcomes. The study involves four teachers (emerging leaders) from four large primary schools. It uses a qualitative approach, with an action research methodology. The tools used for data gathering are a questionnaire, semi-structured interviews, focus group interviews and written journal reflections at the workshops. The data is thematically analysed. The findings emphasize the value of coaching and mentoring skills in the professional learning of emerging leaders and the teachers that they are working with. Two overarching changes in the emerging leaders' practice arose. Firstly changes in the leadership understandings of the emerging leaders and secondly in the growth of their leadership practice as they developed small professional learning communities. The importance of trust and relationships as part of the community was highlighted. The data also identified a change in the depth and the development of talk about the teachers' science pedagogy. A crucial realization for the participants was the difference between professional and social conversations when it came to taking a leadership role. The implications of this research include the importance of providing emerging middle leaders in primary schools with the opportunities to explore the bigger picture of leadership. Senior school leaders would be advised to provide professional development opportunities to help emerging leaders develop in their understanding and practice of the skills and knowledge base involved in the leadership process. This study has illustrated that a coaching and mentoring approach to fostering professional learning can be effective in the growth of leadership skills.
Type of thesis
Barnett, J. S. (2009). An exploration of the use of coaching and mentoring as a professional development process for primary school emerging leaders: Using science as a context (Thesis, Master of Education (MEd)). The University of Waikato, Hamilton, New Zealand. Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10289/3605
The University of Waikato
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