Model classrooms can amplify coaching’s impact

By Jason Margolis and Jill Harrison Berg
April 2022
A school is much more than a collection of individual classrooms. Although teachers have an undeniable impact on the students in their classrooms, school culture and structure can effectively support or dramatically limit teachers’ capacity to grow — and, therefore, their students’ capacity to learn. But the influence of school culture and structure on teacher practice is too often overlooked as a lever for improvement (Johnson, 2019; Quintero, 2017). Fostering a collaborative and learning-oriented culture can improve teachers’ and students’ success. One promising model for doing so is a professional learning approach we witnessed in 2018-19 as part of a larger study of teacher leadership programs (Berg et al., 2019): coupling coaching with model classrooms. In model classrooms, teachers who have participated in professional learning open

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Berg, J., Horn, P., Supovitz, J., & Margolis, J. (2019). Typology of teacher leader programs: A scan of U.S. programs + initiatives that support teachers to take new and varied roles. Consortium for Policy Research in Education (CPRE).

Johnson, S. (2020). Where teachers thrive: Organizing schools for success. Harvard Education Press.

Margolis, J. & Doring, A. (2012). The fundamental dilemma of teacher leader facilitated professional development: Do as I (kind of) say, not as I (sort of) do. Educational Administration Quarterly, 48(5), 855-882.

Margolis, J., Durbin, R., & Doring, A. (2017). The missing link in teacher professional development: Student presence. Professional Development in Education, 43(1), 23-35.

Quintero, E. (2017). Teaching in context: The social side of education reform. Harvard Education Press.

Jason Margolis (margolisj@duq. edu) is a professor of education at Duquesne University.

Jill Harrison Berg is a leadership coach, school improvement consultant, researcher, and writer committed to maximizing the leadership potential of teachers. Berg is the author of Leading in Sync: Teacher Leaders and Principals Working Together for Student Learning (ASCD, 2018). Her monthly column, “Leading Together,” in ASCD’s Educational Leadership magazine aims to heighten leaders’ attention to the complementary roles that teacher leaders and administrators must play in restructuring and re-culturing schools for equity and excellence.

The Learning Professional

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