Coaching a teacher to use dialogic inquiry: fostering students' talk about texts




Northcutt, Kathryn L.

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The purpose of this descriptive case study was to investigate, from a constructivist paradigm, the extent to which coaching a teacher in the use of dialogic inquiry fostered students' conversations about texts. One 3rd grade teacher and 15 of her students participated in this project that spanned the course of one semester of school. I video recorded the teacher's and students' conversations about texts bi-weekly for a total of six observations. After transcribing the recordings using Wells's (1999; 2001) discourse analysis coding protocol, I coached the teacher, on alternating weeks, toward adopting a more dialogic stance in her conversations with students. One final observation took place at the end of the semester as a means of determining the extent to which dialogic conversations were sustained. The teacher's level of adaptive expertise (Hatano & Inagaki, 1986) in dialogic inquiry was of primary importance in planning coaching sessions, and I used several tools to assist me. First, I considered how the teacher's knowledge base about dialogic inquiry increased over time, using a continuum developed by Snow, Griffin, and Burns (2005). A complementary scale by Joyce and Showers (2002) provided insight into how the teacher's knowledge and training was transferred to her practice (2002). The Dialogic Inquiry Tool (Reznitskaya, Glina, & Oyler, 2011) was a continuum both the teacher and I used to establish the degree to which the teacher's and students' stances shifted along several indicators toward dialogic conversations. Findings suggest that coaching a teacher to use dialogic inquiry influences students' dialogic conversations about texts. As the teacher was supported in developing theoretical understandings, her knowledge base increased and transfer of knowledge and training occurred. Consequently, she progressed from novice to being a more adaptive expert in her dialogic stance with students. Findings also indicate that students practiced more dialogic conversations in direct relationship to the teacher's shifting stance toward an inquiry approach. As the teacher extended conversations, students talked more with her and with each other. As their thinking was expanded, students began to participate in conversations in more sophisticated and dialogic ways.



Reading instruction, Elementary education, Language