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A year in the life: Academic coaching and the role of collaboration in a rural Ohio school

Sara Lohrman Hartman, University of Nebraska - Lincoln


This year-long qualitative case study provides an analysis of the work of a math coach as she built collaborative partnerships in a rural Appalachian school. Academic coaches provide embedded professional development and the theoretical hope of improving teachers' instructional abilities and thereby raising student achievement. As rural schools are often overlooked by the research community, the purpose of this research is to provide insight into the collaborative partnerships of a rural school math coach. Data was collected in thirty-four school visits using interviews, observations, field notes, and artifact collection. Participants in the research include the math coach and the teachers with whom she worked. Data analysis was an on-going process that utilized categorical aggregation, naturalistic generalizations, and reflective analysis. Nine major conclusions were found: (a) the work of a rural school math coach is unscripted and multidimensional; (b) scheduling provides a serious impediment to coaching in a rural school; (c) the rural school "family" significantly impacts the math coach's work; (d) in a rural setting, people with "insider" status are more likely to gain entry to classrooms; (e) resistant teachers are a challenge for a rural math coach, though the familial workings of a rural school staff make it difficult for teachers to initially resist entry to their classrooms; (f) while universal traits of partnership development apply, for example the need for trust and confidentiality, in a rural school, the fulfillment of personal and professional needs is also a contributor to partnership development; (g) collaborative partnerships may not always develop and are impeded by resistance to classroom entry, opposition to change, and teachers attributing their successes and failures to factors beyond their control; (h) like math coaches in urban and suburban settings, math coaches in a rural setting may also positively impact teacher self-efficacy; and, (i) being in a rural school impacts the work of a math coach making it different from math coaching positions in either suburban or urban settings.

Subject Area

Educational evaluation|Teacher education|Curriculum development

Recommended Citation

Hartman, Sara Lohrman, "A year in the life: Academic coaching and the role of collaboration in a rural Ohio school" (2012). ETD collection for University of Nebraska - Lincoln. AAI3504195.