Publication details [#1984]

Austin, Kimberlee P. 2000. Coaching as a metaphor for teaching in a community of practice. Stanford, Calif.. 191 pp.


Efforts over the past century to create student-centered learning environments have faced only minimal success (Cuban, 1984). An assumption underlying this study is that this trend can be attributed, in part, to the lack of clarity around the role of the teacher in such communities of learners. This study examines the role of the teacher in a particular community of practice, a high school journalism program. Three questions guide this analytical case study of a journalism teacher. What are the central contextual features of this teaching/learning environment? How do the various components of the teaching and learning interaction change over time, as students develop expertise? What is the role of the teacher in fostering her students' learning and how does it change over time? Interviews, observations, surveys, and classroom artifacts served as the primary sources of data to answer these questions. Through a consideration of the journalism teacher's 'vision' for her practice, her decisions shaping program 'design', the range and types of 'interaction' with her students, and her 'analysis' of her own practice, features and functions of the coaching role are identified and illustrated (Shulman, 1998). A number of the findings contrast with prevailing views about teaching and learning: first, this study posits that didactic forms of teaching do not necessarily threaten student-centered learning, but rather can prepare students for more independent and collaborative work; second, findings suggest that coaching is more possible in the context of extemalized, repeatable, structured routines, rather than continuously novel units of instruction; and third, coaching does not mean fading completely, but taking on a new role and a gradual transfer of responsibility over time. In an attempt to define coaching, a previously vague notion, this study links a conception of learning with a conception of teaching and proposes implications for those involved in the fields of teacher education, curriculum development, educational reform and learning theory. (Kimberlee Austin)