Coaching: Professional Development and Its Relation to Changes in Student–teacher Interactions in Preschools

Laura Rose Elizabeth Stokes

Advisor: Timothy W Curby, PhD, Department of Psychology

Committee Members: Jennifer Suh, Olga Kornienko

David J. King Hall, #1022
May 08, 2020, 09:00 AM to 11:00 AM


High quality teacher professional development is an important component of supporting teachers and improving the quality student–teacher interactions. These student–teacher interactions act as an important source of development for children in terms of academic and social-emotional skills (Curby et al., 2013). Teacher coaching is considered to be a form of professional development which is embedded in the classroom, long-term, teacher-directed, and focused on teacher learning (Teemant, Wink & Tyra, 2011). During teacher coaching, teachers’ instruction is observed by coaches, administrators, instructional leaders, or peers, and feedback is provided (Kraft, Blazar, & Hogan, 2018; Joyce & Showers, 1982).

In comparison to lectures, teacher-coaching has been found to be a more effective method in providing teachers with classroom knowledge and skills (McRel Staff, 1984-1985). With the guidance and support of coaches, teachers can adopt and incorporate new teaching strategies into their instruction (Knight, 2004), which can result in improved student outcomes (Guiney, 2001). Coaching positively impacts teachers by providing teachers with resources and opportunities to share experiences while developing perspectives of student learning and understanding (Akhavan, Tracz, Brown-Welty, & Hauser, 2011).

The purpose of this study was to further understand the mechanisms involved in the teacher-coaching process and explore how coaching relates to changes in student–teacher interactions at a public charter preschool network in an urban mid-Atlantic city. This study found that professional development groups did not explain changes in student–teacher interaction scores. Moreover, this study found that during teacher-coach meetings, classroom organization was the most frequently discussed domain in relation to student-teacher interactions. These discussions were predictive of changes in classroom organization; however, this was not the case for emotional support or instructional support.