Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education in Educational Leadership



First Reader/Committee Chair

Schnorr, Donna


The purpose of this constructivist grounded theory study was to examine the professional relationship between instructional coaches and teachers in an elementary school setting. This examination is necessary due to the expansion of personnel serving as instructional coaches in US public schools. Utilizing constructivist grounded theory, the researcher gathered electronic journals from 19 participants, 11 teachers and eight coaches. Additionally, interviews were conducted with all 19 participants. The initial codes from electronic journals were applied to interview transcripts in a line-by-line analysis and subsequently affirmed using qualitative software analysis. Analyzing codes led to memo writing and the emergence of theoretical codes that responded to the research questions. Follow up interviews were conducted with six participants as member-checks and centered on theoretical codes, leading to the construction of a grounded theory. The resulting codes demonstrated that, in response to research question one, coaches use their leadership role of professional development in order to strengthen relationships with teachers and to empower them to develop their skill sets. Additionally, in response to research question two, coaches cast themselves as a resource for teachers, thus supporting teachers’ autonomy and professionalism. When resistance to coaching is encountered, research showed, in all but one case, it was resistance to district policy, not the coach tasked with the implementation. The implications of these findings are numerous and best summarized as when coaches work to develop trusting and respectful professional relationships, teachers will utilize instructional coaching to modify teaching practices for the benefit of students. Thus, the grounded theory as constructed is as follows: when instructional coaching is approached from a universal design perspective, based in meeting the needs of teachers with whom one is working, then instructional coaches will face fewer acts of resistance and the professional relationship between two parties will allow for the co-construction of knowledge in order to positively impact student learning.