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Athletes have coaches, why not teachers?

The Lastinger Center’s Coaching Academy has become a national leader in certifying teacher coaches in preschool through high school.

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — NFL quarterback Tom Brady has a coach. So does tennis superstar Serena Williams. Same goes for many of America’s most successful CEOs.

So why not teachers?

Scholars at the University of Florida’s College of Education and two nonprofit educational organizations are recommending just that: all teachers should have a skilled coach as a way to improve the nation’s educational system.

Research has shown that strong coaching can enhance a teacher’s practice and student learning — yet a majority of teachers say they don’t receive regular professional coaching, according to a new report from the UF Lastinger Center for Learning, developed jointly with the groups Learning Forward and Public Impact.

“Coaching is for everyone,” said Don Pemberton, director of the Lastinger Center, which serves as the college’s teaching and learning innovation incubator.

“There is kind of a stigma in education that coaches are only provided to the weak teachers,” Pemberton said. “In our work, we have reimagined coaching for all teachers. Anyone can gain value from it as they do in sports, and as CEOs do. We believe that should be the case in education. It’s really about human development.”

Only half of teachers receive coaching

Graphic - Intensive Coaching Relatively Rare
Nationwide, just half of teachers reported receiving coaching in a recent 12-month period, and only 12 percent had weekly coaching sessions, according to a 2014 survey funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and cited by the researchers.

This new report, “Coaching for Impact: Six Pillars to Create Coaching Roles that Achieve Their Potential to Improve Teaching and Learning,” is aimed at schools and administrators nationwide in hopes of developing a framework and conversation about the importance of teacher coaches. The UF Lastinger Center teamed up on the research, writing and dissemination of the report with Learning Forward, a Dallas-based professional association for kindergarten-to-12th-grade teachers, and Public Impact, a Carrboro, N.C.-based organization working to improve learning for all U.S. children.

UF education professor emerita Dorene Ross served as project leader for the Lastinger Center.

Pemberton said the report comes at a time that schools across the country are spending tens of millions of dollars on implementing some form of coaching for teachers but these programs haven’t been fully conceptualized and developed to have the greatest impact.

“The question is how to get more value? It’s a field that is ready for some innovation,” Pemberton said.

The report serves as a roadmap for schools: It summarizes the findings of academic research, provides effective coaching models and makes recommendations for incorporating high-quality coaching in the daily routine at schools.

Six ‘pillars’ for coaching programs

The authors cite six “pillars” necessary to implement successful coaching programs:

  • Commitment of education system leaders
  • Careful selection of teacher coaches
  • Shared responsibility for student outcomes by the coaches and the teachers they coach
  • Clarification of roles, time allotted and culture
  • Adequate training and support
  • Improved compensation for coaches to attract and retrain great teachers in coaching positions

Pemberton and Ross acknowledged more study was needed about ways budget-constrained school districts can provide higher or “differentiated” pay to teacher coaches.

One step toward that goal is professionalizing the coaching field through formal certification programs. The Lastinger Center’s Coaching Academy has become a national leader in certifying teacher coaches in preschool through high school, with more than 1,500 coaches either certified or currently enrolled in the program.

It is working with seven Florida school districts(1), all 30 of Florida’s early learning coalitions, and the Charleston, S.C., school system to develop coaching programs, including specialty ones aimed at early childhood education, literacy and STEM (science, technology, engineering and math). The center also has contracted with the state of Georgia to develop a statewide designation for preschool coaching.

Ross said, “We think the more school districts invest in coaching the more they will realize how valuable coaching is, especially as coaches show they are truly improving the practice of teachers and, ultimately, student achievement.”

(1) NOTE:  The seven Florida school districts working with the UF Lastinger Center’s teacher-coaching program are in Alachua, Duval, Indian River, Miami-Dade, Orange, Palm Beach and Seminole counties.

Source: Don Pemberton, 352-273-4100, UF Lastinger Center for Learning
Source: Dorene Ross, 352-538-1920, UF Lastinger Center for Learning
Writer: Charles Boisseau, UF College of Education news & communications office, 352-273-4449

EduGator Talk on standardized testing coming to Tampa March 8

Join the UF College of Education and Tampa Gator Club to connect with fellow Gators and gain insight into one of the most hotly debated topics in public education: standardized testing.

In addition to hors d’oeuvres and genuine camaraderie, 30 minutes of the evening will be set aside for representatives from the UF College of Education and Hillsborough County Public Schools to weigh-in on the circumstances surrounding, and consequences of, standardized testing in schools.

UF College of Education Faculty: Dorene Ross and Sevan Terzian

Gator Alumnae and Hillsborough County Public Schools Representatives: Melissa Snively (board member) and Angelique Xenick (supervisor, high school guidance services)

When: Tuesday, March 8, 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.
Where: The Rusty Pelican, 2425 N. Rocky Point Drive, Tampa, FL 33607
RSVP: Register online before March 4.

Here is more to know about the UF faculty speakers:

Ross, Dorene 081 (cropped mug_'06)

Dorene Ross

Dorene Ross is a professor emerita from the School of Teaching and Learning, where she also served as interim director from 2000-2003. She also consults as a professional development specialist for UF’s Lastinger Center for Learning and has collaborated with Lastinger specialists to develop an Instructional Coaching Professional Development sequence used with coaches, instructional leaders and building administrators. She has a long history of work in schools and teacher education with emphasis on preparing teachers to work with diverse student populations.


Sevan Terzian

Sevan Terzian

Sevan Terzian is an associate professor of social foundations of education and associate director for graduate studies in the School of Teaching and Learning. He teaches graduate and undergraduate courses on the history of U.S. education and the philosophical foundations of education. His scholarship has focused on the history of science education, popular media and education, and the history of technology and education. He has published two books, Science Education and Citizenship: Fairs, Clubs, and Talent Searches for American Youth (2013), and American Education in Popular Media: From the Blackboard to the Silver Screen (2015). He is researching a book about the history of gifted education.


The Independent Florida Alligator
Dorene Ross

The Independent Florida Alligator quoted COE professor Dorene Ross in an article about highly-skilled adults in the United States.

COE faculty to discuss Trayvon Martin case, racial prejudice Wednesday at law school event

With the controversial Trayvon Martin trial coming up in June in Sanford, two UF College of Education professors will participate in a special spring lecture and panel discussion on Wednesday, March 20, to discuss the racial aspects of the case from several different angles.

It has been just over a year since Martin, an unarmed black teenager, was shot and killed by George Zimmerman, a white Hispanic neighborhood watch volunteer, in Sanford. The incident is once again making headlines with Zimmerman’s looming trial date.

UF’s Levin College of Law will host “At Close Range: The Curious Case of Travyon Martin” as the Center for the Study of Race and Race Relations’ 10th annual spring lecture and panel discussion. The March 20th event will cover the legal, social and cultural questions raised by the case.

Education professors Elizabeth Bondy and Dorene Ross will host a session at 10:45 a.m. titled “Learning and Unlearning Racial Prejudice: The Role of Schools.” They will present education research about school systems’ roles in reinforcing racial prejudice, as well as strategies that counter stereotyped messages.

“I am drawn to this case because it intersects with issues I confront daily in my work with university faculty, students, and school-based educators,” Bondy said. “We in education must examine ourselves and the systems in which we work to understand the role we play in teaching white students to fear black male youth.”

Bondy is the director of the College of Education’s School of Teaching and Learning. Both she and Ross are professors in curriculum, teaching and teacher education.

“I hope people will walk away with insight into how current directions in national education policy reinforce stereotypical and racist perspectives about black youth and some ideas about other ways we could think about national policy if racial equity were really a national priority,” Ross said.

All panels will take place between 9 a.m. and noon March 20 at the law school’s Chesterfield Smith Ceremonial Classroom (HOL 180). For more information, visit

WUFT-FM: Dorene Ross


Dorene Ross (teacher education)

A local radio station, WUFT, aired a news report with an interview of Professor Dorene Ross offering back-to-school tips for parents of young schoolchildren. The coverage resulted from a COE media advisory.


UF education, medical colleges team up on new master’s degree to help doctors become better teachers

The University of Florida colleges of Education and Medicine have joined forces to offer a new master’s degree program geared toward not only helping physicians be better teachers, but also training them to be scholars in the field.

The online joint master’s degree program will begin in the fall and is open to physicians across the state.

“Most faculty arrive at their position without any formal training in teaching techniques and best practices,” said Marian Limacher, M.D., senior associate dean for faculty affairs and professional development in the College of Medicine. “They have been students so long themselves they have developed their own style, but it may not be founded in best practices.”

Teaching is generally not a skill taught in medical school, as physicians-in-training are more focused on learning about the process of disease and how to treat patients. But as physicians move forward in their careers and become teachers themselves, of medical students, residents and fellows, there is a need for more advanced knowledge in instructional strategies and also research methods used to measure educational outcomes, which differ from the research techniques used in medical science.


“Many health science professionals have been exposed to a monochromatic view of education that is lecture-based and behavioristically driven,” said Erik Black, Ph.D., an assistant professor in the College of Medicine department of pediatrics and the College of Education School of Teaching and Learning. “That is not necessarily where medical education is going. Today, there is a growing emphasis on small group learning, team-based learning and constructivist principles of instruction and learning.

“There is a need for medical educators to learn about and incorporate more contemporary educational methods. It is something students request and something faculty want but do not necessarily know how to deliver.”

The 36-hour master’s degree program will arm physicians with instructional strategies they can use in the clinical education setting and give them the tools to assess educational efforts, as well. Courses include subjects such as instructional design, research methods in professional and medical education, adult teaching and learning and more.The program stems from a pilot project faculty members in the colleges of Education and Medicine have been working on for the past two years. As part of that project, funded by the Department of Education’s Fund for the Improvement of Postsecondary Education, five UF physicians and a pharmacist are receiving master’s degrees in education, with a focus on using technology in education.

“We see so much potential in the connection between our two colleges. It is a unique arrangement and has helped us to move this work along,” said Elizabeth Bondy, professor and director of the School of Teaching and Learning in the College of Education. “At the bedside, there is a lot of teaching and learning that goes on in those moments. What we do in the School of Teaching and Learning is focus on teaching and learning in diverse settings.”

UF education technology professors Kara Dawson and Cathy Cavanaugh were instrumental in the degree program’s creation while Bondy and School of Teaching and Learning faculty members Kent Crippen, Dorene Ross and Sevan Terzian have worked on developing the curriculum.

Eventually, the program likely will be opened up to professionals in other health fields as well, Black said.

For clinical educators in the College of Medicine, the issue is particularly important. The college is currently revising its tenure and promotion guidelines so that faculty who have pursued advanced education in teaching and who are conducting research in medical education can use this in their tenure applications, Limacher said.

“We think this program will have appeal to a number of folks within the College of Medicine,” Limacher said.




Gainesville Sun: Dorene Ross (STL)

Professor Dorene Ross was quoted extensively in segments one and two of a five-part series in the Gainesville Sun about the value and impact of standardized testing in Alachua County public schools.