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Developing collective capacity to improve mathematics instruction: Coaching as a lever for school-wide improvement

Mathematics coaching, as typically practiced in US schools tends to be responsive and individually focused work in which coaches respond to invitations from individual teachers to help them improve their teaching. But what does the work of coaching look like if it is organized instead to engage teachers collectively in service of school-wide improvement? This is the question we take up in this paper through examining the case of one school-based elementary mathematics coach whose work more closely aligned with emerging findings in the field of instructional improvement about the power of coaching for school-wide reform. The coach helped to dramatically transform a recent history of poor performance and deficit-oriented narratives pertaining to the school and its children. Through a fine-grain analysis, we illustrate the coach’s work implicated in supporting groups of teachers to come to mutual understanding around and further development of shared high-quality instructional practices. The components of coaching that help support collective capacity are discussed.

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