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The purpose of this paper presentation is to discuss the Quality Instruction towards Access and Basic Education Improvement project’s (QITABI) teacher coaching model, its effectiveness to build the capacity of the public-school sector along with lessons learned. World Learning, an international non-profit organization, has been implementing QITABI in Lebanon since 2014.
Educational research suggests that effective Professional Development (PD) programs are characterized with critical elements — opportunities to practice on the job, intense and sustained duration of PD, focus on specific set of skills and engagement in active learning (Kraft). Additional evidence support that a critical element of PD’s effectiveness relates to “teacher coaching”. Joyce and Showers (1980), suggested that teacher coaching is an essential feature of PD training that can facilitate teachers’ acquisition of the targeted skills, knowledge and attitude. Moreover, Merickel (1988), reported that teacher coaching can also promote their reflection on their own practices.
In Lebanon, the guidance and counseling of public schools’ teachers is the responsibility of the Département D’Observation Pédagogique Scolaire (DOPS). DOPS is a performance monitoring unit under the ministry of education and higher education mandated to continually asses the performance of schools and teachers. Under QITABI, a sustainable capacity building training and coaching strategy was implemented. Following the training of ministry trainers and teacher mentors by the project, over 1,000 Arabic Language teachers received in-school coaching from the mentors over a period of two years on implementing literacy best practices (circle time, read aloud sessions, mini-lessons, guided reading, shared reading, and differentiated educational activities), formative assessment, using supportive resources, and integrating technology. The mentors and teachers are supported, out of classroom, by the QITABI’s reading facilitators.
After two academic years (2015-2017) of intervention, QITABI coaching model has evolved to a structured model representing a modern approach in line with international practices. The model has increasingly impacted teachers’ performance as well as students’ reading attainment in Arabic language. Average number of coaching hours received by the teachers was 17 hours over two academic years.
Teacher’s performance on administering the universal screening tool showed improvement in conducting pre and post assessment. The total number of universal screening records increased from around 9,321 to 16,870. Similarly, teachers’ performance implementing EGR/BLA in class was measured using a teacher checklist. The checklist was completed by having teachers self-report on their own performance inside the classroom indicating the most adopted practices and the most common challenges faced in the implementation of EGR/ BLA intervention during the academic year. The instrument was developed based on the practices and instructional activities of the QITABI-EGR/ BLA.
After one year of coaching, Arabic language teachers completed the checklist. Comparing the means of BLA scores between teachers who completed coaching and teachers who didn’t complete their coaching hours and didn’t reach 70% of the total score of coaching evaluation using independent T-test, it was noticed that the mean Post-BLA score for teachers successfully completing coaching (9.547) was significantly higher than that of teachers who didn’t complete their coaching (7.000). Students’ performance on basic reading skills using universal screening data from pre and post-assessment showed students’ improvement on reading comprehension skills from year one to year two, as teachers were receiving coaching on how to successfully implement circle time, read aloud sessions and reading strategies with supportive literacy and ICT e-material in a differentiated literacy classroom. The percentage of learners improving in at least one reading level in Year 1 of the coaching was 71.2%. This percentage increased to 79.4% in Year 2 of coaching. This increase was also noticed in each of the governorates and for both males and females in all of the grades assessed, i.e. grades 1 to 4.
The project faced challenges which will be shared at the presentation. Some of them included school directors lacking the skills to successfully motivate and engage their teachers in the coaching sessions, teachers stretched dealing with daily crisis, large classroom size, and getting buy-in and commitment from mentors and teachers.
The 21st century requires empowering teachers as facilitators in the differentiated literacy classroom to engage each student as an active learner and successful reader. It is evident through QITABI implementation that having teachers participate in capacity building workshops is important, but not sufficient for them to acquire the knowledge, skills, and attitude needed to implement best practices in teaching and learning reading skills. A sustainable coaching model in school is therefore necessary to empower teachers to implement, reflect and improve their practice by being coached in-class or outside class as presented in this study. This paper presentation will conclude with a series of recommendations to consider as projects incorporate a coaching model for sustainable capacity building.