Once upon a time, long ago, a
speech-language pathologist (SLP) and a
physical therapist (PT) were happily working in their chosen professions. He, the SLP, was a speech-language services supervisor working in a state-funded child guidance clinic along with child development specialists, psychologists, and social workers. She, the PT, worked as a faculty member on the health sciences center campus of a highly respected state-funded university. He, the SLP, worked primarily with children ages 2–8 years to conduct comprehensive speech-language evaluations and then remediate identified articulation and language disorders within a clinic-based setting. Parents usually waited in the reception area while he worked directly with the children. Following each session, he discussed with the parents the progress he had made with the child during the visit and provided worksheets for practice as part of the home program that he had carefully designed.
Little did he know that only a few years earlier, Congress passed the
Education of the Handicapped Act Amendments of 1986 (PL 99-457) and created the Part H early intervention program, now referred to as Part C of the
Individuals with Disabilities Education Act Amendments (IDEA) of 1997 (PL 105-17). Since that time, the state had been working to create its own legislation to ensure that all eligible children from birth to 3 years of age with a developmental delay or a diagnosed syndrome or condition would receive comprehensive supports that were based on Part C of IDEA. State staff were working quickly but thoughtfully to create a system that would provide these federally and state-mandated services and supports as envisioned by those who testified to Congress and who wished to see these supports in place nationwide.
In Fall 1989, the SLP became the first SLP in the state to start providing services under these new federal and state laws. He was not enthusiastic when he was informed that his services were to be provided in the children’s “natural environments,” meaning that he would be going to their homes to provide services and would be working with a team of other professionals that would now include PTs and
occupational therapists (OTs).
The PT’s responsibilities included teaching undergraduate physical therapy and occupational therapy students. One of her job duties was to give a portion of her time to the state agencies that were responsible for developing the
Part C early intervention program across the state. She was to work on one of the newly formed teams and to train other therapists and educators to provide the services and supports in a manner that was consistent with state and federal regulations.
He, the SLP, first encountered her, the PT, as she dashed into the new team’s meeting—late—wearing overalls that were short enough in the legs to show her creatively colorful stockings, over which she wore combat-style boots. In her ears she wore mismatched earrings, one of which was a peace sign. All of the seats in the meeting room had already been taken, so she plopped on the floor and began rummaging through a canvas tote bag that had a conference name and the year 1985 emblazoned on the side, looking for an evaluation that she had recently written of a child who she claimed was eligible for services. Dressed in a freshly starched shirt, sharply creased dress slacks, patterned socks, silk club tie, and wingtip shoes, he watched as she ran back out to her car to retrieve the report, which was actually in a similar tote bag that had a different color and conference name. She proceeded to try to smooth the wrinkles out of the report and declared the child’s eligibility.
As the meeting progressed, the PT and SLP presented the work they had done with different families in the families’ homes. Each felt somewhat frustrated by the compounding factors that were present in the homes and that appeared to impede their therapy sessions. These factors had probably existed when the therapy had been done in the clinic, but they had not kept the SLP and PT from successfully completing their clinic-based sessions. They found it equally disconcerting, although it was not completely different from their previous experience, that parents rarely found the time to practice the activities and exercises that they were supposed to do between therapy sessions. So, in that moment across a somewhat crowded room, this unlikely and clearly mismatched twosome identified a common and compelling mission: to figure out how to make home visitation in early intervention work. It was, after all, the law—and, perhaps even more important, neither of them could stand the thought of failure. They shared a driving need to get interventions right for the children and families who they were being paid to serve.
They began by searching the research and other literature from their own disciplines’ perspectives. Next, they delved into the fields of early childhood and early childhood special education to ascertain how to provide early intervention services in home and community environments. They also wanted to come up with a plan to work closely with the adults in the children’s lives to ensure that they understood how to support child learning when the PT or SLP was not present. This book summarizes the part of their collective journey that was related to interaction with the adults in young children’s lives for optimum success.
In their initial literature search, both the PT and the SLP found several references that recommended that therapists or educators in early intervention serve as coaches to important adults in young children’s lives. The references and previous research inspired them to develop an operational definition of coaching, characteristics of the practice, and the steps or process one would use to coach a parent or other important person in a child’s life. Their initial purpose in using coaching was to build the adult’s capacity to support child participation and learning beyond that in everyday life.
Coaching emerged as an accepted practice in the development and supervision of educators in the 1980s (Ackland, 1991; Brandt, 1987; Joyce & Showers, 2002). Since that time, coaching has been used successfully in the fields of early childhood (Artman-Meeker, Fettig, Barton, Penney, & Zeng, 2015; Chronis-Tuscano, Lewis-Morrarty, Woods, O’Brian, Mazursky-Horowitz, & Thomas, 2014; Dunn, Cox, Foster, Mische-Lawson, & Tanquary, 2012; Fox, Hemmeter, Snyder, Binder, & Clarke, 2011; Friedman & Woods, 2015; Gettinger & Stoiber, 2016; Kemp & Turnbull, 2014; Snyder, Hemmeter, & Fox, 2015); elementary, middle school, and high school education and school administration (Adams, 2012; Campbell & Griffin, 2017; Glover, 2017; Huguet, Marsh, & Farrell, 2014); and special education (Akamoglu & Dinnebeil, 2017; Barton & Cohen, 2015; Branson, 2015; Coogle, Ottley, Storie, Rahn, & Burt, 2017; Graham, Rodger, & Ziviani, 2014). Coaching has been used extensively in preservice preparation programs for special and general educators (Barton, Chen, Pribble, Pomes, & Kim, 2013; Barton, Fuller, & Shnitz, 2016; Scheeler, McKinnon, & Stout, 2012) and in medicine (Alcorn & Broome, 2014; Cappella et al., 2012; Hadders-Algra, 2011; Hayes & Kalmakis, 2007; Kahjoogh, Rassafiani, Dunn, Hosseini, & Akbarfahimi, 2016; Nadeem, Gleacher, & Beidas, 2013). Within these contexts, coaching is a relationship-based process that is used to improve existing skills, develop new skills, and build the competence and confidence of the coachee (the individual who is being coached) to achieve desired or intended outcomes (Rush & Shelden, 2011).
No commonly agreed upon definition of coaching
purposes other than athletics (Artman-Meeker et al., 2015; Bachkirova, Spence, & Drake, 2017; Friedman, Woods, & Salisbury, 2012; Grant, 2013). The
International Coach Federation (ICF) is a professional organization that was formed to establish and maintain standards for coaches across all types of coaching (e.g., executive coaching, leadership coaching, life coaching) and to advance the practice of coaching. The ICF defines coaching
an ongoing relationship which focuses on coaches taking action toward the realization of their visions, goals or desires. Coaching uses a process of inquiry and personal discovery to build the coachee’s level of awareness and responsibility and provides the coachee with structure, support, and feedback. (ICF, n.d.)
Throughout history, the use of coaching in early childhood has been described by special educators, OTs, PTs, and SLPs as a practice to support families of children with disabilities as well as to support practitioners in early childhood programs. Campbell (1997), a pediatric PT, suggested that the early intervention practitioner should be a coach rather than a direct therapy provider. Hanft and Pilkington, OTs, encouraged early childhood practitioners to reconsider their role and “to move to a different position alongside a parent as a coach rather than lead player” (Hanft & Pilkington, 2000, p. 2). Such a move allows more opportunities to promote child development and learning than does direct intervention by the therapist or educator. Rush (2000), an SLP, noted that a practitioner-as-coach approach provides the parent with the necessary supports to improve the child’s skills and abilities. Dinnebeil, McInerney, Roth, and Ramasway (2001) examined the role of itinerant early childhood special education teachers and concluded that they “should be prepared to act not simply as consultants to early childhood teachers but as coaches” (p. 42). By acting as coaches, early childhood special education teachers can offer a more structured system for jointly planning new learning, modeling effective practices, and engaging in feedback.
Current Definitions of
Coaching in the Literature
Coaching can be defined as a collaborative helping relationship, where coach and client (“coachee”) engage in a systematic process of setting goals and developing solutions with the aim of facilitating goal attainment, self-directed learning, and personal growth of the coachee. (Grant, 2013)
National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) and the National Association of Child Care Resource and Referral Agencies (2012) define coaching
a relationship-based process led by an expert with specialization and adult learning knowledge and skills . . . designed to build capacity for specific professional dispositions, skills, and behaviors and is focused on goal setting and achievement for an individual or group. (p. 11)
A coach must clearly communicate the difference between coaching and other forms of interventions, set clear agreements, clarify respective responsibilities, co-create a supportive working relationship, and also elicit a thought-provoking and creative process through active listening and challenging questions (Grant, 2013; Losch, Traut-Mattausch, Muhlberger, & Jonas, 2016).
Coaches show individualized consideration by acknowledging the needs and goals of the coachees and supporting his or her personal strengths. Coaches provide intellectual stimulation by encouraging the coachees to consider issues from new perspectives and by doing so, they challenge the coachee’s assumptions and ideas. (Losch et al., 2016, p. 3)
Coaching is a relationship-based process led by an expert to build a practitioner’s capacity for specific professional disposition, skills, and behaviors (NAEYC, 2012). A cyclical process for supporting preschool practitioners’ use of effective teaching practices leads to positive outcomes for children (Snyder et al., 2015).
PURPOSE OF COACHING
Coaching is used to acknowledge and perhaps improve existing knowledge and practices, develop new skills, and promote continuous self-assessment and learning on the part of the coachee. The coach’s role is to provide a supportive and encouraging environment in which the coach and coachee jointly examine and reflect on current practices, apply new skills and competencies with feedback, and problem solve challenging situations. The coach’s ultimate goal is sustained performance in which the coachee has the competence and confidence to engage in self-reflection, self-correction, and the generalization of new skills and strategies to other situations as appropriate (Coe, Zehnder, & Kinlaw, 2008; Friedman et al., 2012; Grant, 2013; Rush & Shelden, 2011; Snyder et al., 2015). Effective coaching can set the stage for lifelong learning on the part of the coachee.
Some individuals believe that coaching parents,
teachers, colleagues, and others is similar to the type of coaching used in sports, in which the athletic coach trains the athletes, calls the plays, motivates the athletes, and helps the athletes ev...