DEVELOPING EDUCATOR CAPACITY USING JOB–EMBEDDED COACHING: A COLLECTIVE CASE STUDY
Job–embedded coaching, whereby an expert in a particular knowledge domain such as childhood disability, teaching, or special education actively works and collaborates with educators long–term, has been demonstrated to be a successful approach to developing educator knowledge and practice. In consultative models educators may consult colleagues within the school, such as health care professionals and fellow educators, or they may attend professional workshops. However, consultative do not efficiently address how educators can better support students’ learning challenges in daily teaching practice and this knowledge is difficult to attain through traditional short–term professional development. The learning, social, and behavioural needs experienced by children and youth with disabilities frequently stem from underlying complex health care needs and are oftentimes too challenging for educators alone to address. Using a realist evaluation framework––which examines what works for whom and how in a given setting–– this multiple case comparison critically analyzed two separate cases that used job-embedded coaching in Ontario schools to build educator capacity about teaching children with diverse needs within the general classroom. One case was grounded in the rehabilitation model of service delivery whereby the coach was an occupational therapist, and the other case was grounded in education and employed a teacher with training in special education in the coach role. Examining context revealed that factors beyond coaching were responsible for its success. The contexts to which the implementing leaders belonged informed project driver mechanisms (e.g., professional training, designation, perspectives and experiences, model of service delivery) important for service delivery, teacher, coach, and student outcomes. Community mechanisms associated with the environment in which coaching was implemented (e.g., community culture as well as school ethos and school priorities) also were important for all outcomes. The alignment of project driver mechanisms with community mechanisms was important for the way in which service delivery was adopted. Job–embedded coaching is an effective method of professional development and its success is greater when a congruency in beliefs, priorities and culture exists in collaborative partnerships.