The Impact of Coaching on New African American Female Principals

This is cross-case analysis of four new African American female principals who reported that coaching was critical to their success. They described the challenges inherent to all newcomers with particular attention to how their professional socialization was further confounded by factors of race and gender. The conceptual framework used for this multi-participant case study is critical race theory with an emphasis on counter-storytelling narratives. The transcripts yielded descriptions of the role of coaching in negotiating their experiences as new African American female principals and the ways race and gender influenced their professional induction. The analysis of data revealed themes such as marginalization, institutional racism, and broader societal perceptions of African American women. Participants offered examples of how their race and gender influenced how they were perceived as less competent, giving examples of European Americans and male colleagues being promoted more often to upper management positions. Participants believed that having an external coach was better than an internal coach, creating a safe haven for confidential discussions and strategizing. In addition to providing the field of educational leadership with information that can improve professional induction of new African-American women principals, interviews provided the opportunity for these four women to openly share their thoughts about coaching, race, and gender. The principals recommended that external coaching be provided for a minimum of one year; coaching matches should be appropriate and the race and/or gender of the coach should be carefully considered; if the coach/coachee match is not appropriate then it should be rectified quickly. The implications for providing coaching for new African American female principals includes a greater chance for their success, an increase in student achievement, and the potential to recruit and retain more in the profession. Through the series on interviews, researcher and participants recognized of the power of hearing their voices through counter-storytelling with culturally responsive coaches. Coaching proved beneficial to all four principals and helped to powerfully and positively shape the professional induction of these four participants.