The influence of leadership coaching as perceived by secondary school principals of title I campuses in Texas
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While various systems of support and professional development are in place for teachers, there remains a distinct void when it comes to these same opportunities for beginning and especially, experienced principals. An emerging form of assistance for campus principals is leadership coaching: a confidential relationship between a professional coach and principal focused on capacity building and the provision of time and support for the school leader to thoughtfully reflect, plan, problem solve, and establish and achieve significant goals. Leadership coaching is an investment in campus principals, which seems to fill an immediate need for them to experience relevant, ongoing, job-embedded, and individualized professional development. This multiple-case qualitative study, using a grounded theory approach, was framed by the research questions: What are the experiences of middle and high school principals participating in leadership coaching and what benefits result from principal participation in leadership coaching? Through the constant comparative analysis of individual and collective data obtained through semi-structured interviews, observations, and documental evidence of principals participating in leadership coaching, principals’ perceptions of their leadership coaching experience and any benefits were revealed. Overall, findings suggested that participation in leadership coaching was perceived positively and led to principals taking time to pause from their stressful roles and responsibilities to reflect and plan. Principals described factors that accounted for initially connecting with their coaches, such as client readiness and the coach’s experience, as well as the conditions established by the coach that helped build and sustain a healthy coaching relationship: safety, flexibility, action-orientation, and skillful guidance. Additionally, principals reported personal, professional, and organizational benefits resulting from leadership coaching. Personal benefits included better self-care, reduced isolation, increased self-confidence, and heightened self-awareness. On a professional level, coaching resulted in the generation of plans/ideas, improved communication, individualized professional development, and an enhanced sense of efficacy. And finally, organizational benefits were identified in areas of staffing, solutions, student performance, and the extension of coaching to others.