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Chalk Talk: Investigating Reading Coaches' Role in Implementation


Bridging the macro and micro levels, this dissertation uses the case of coaching to investigate how people and ideas affect implementation. I drew on institutional theory and framing theory to reveal that coaches, situated between the district and school levels, serve as intermediaries in the education system. I conducted a qualitative cross-case study of coaching in one urban school district. I collected data on the field of reading instruction, the policy environment, coaches' work, and teachers' classroom practice. To advance our understanding of instructional reform, I determined how reading coaches engaged with logics from the broader environment. I paid particular attention to coaches' political role in persuading teachers to change their practice.

I found that two logics of reading instruction, Accountability First and Just Read, co-existed in an urban school district in California. These logics held conflicting principles about appropriate and effective ways to teach reading. Coaches actively transformed and combined these logics, building them into structures and practices at the district and school-levels while generating rules, instructional materials, and trainings. Thus, coach-developed reading policies were infused with the principles and practices of Accountability First and Just Read. Coaches then actively drew upon logics from the environment to frame reading policy for teachers during implementation. Coaches differentiated their framing to meet the perceived needs of their school and teachers and used socially skilled tactics to motivate change. Ultimately, coaches' framing of the two logics of reading instruction helped influence teachers' adoption of the new reading program by persuading teachers to respond positively to particular specific pedagogical elements of the program. These findings have implications for institutional theory, research on coaching, and the preparation of educational leaders.

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