Sarah Dhah


The limited research that exists regarding instructional coaching and teacher efficacy suggests that instructional coaching may be related to higher levels of teacher self-efficacy. However, this potential relationship had not been explored specifically at the middle school special education, hard-to-staff school level. Hard-to-staff schools were defined for the purpose of this study as schools that experience difficulty with teacher recruitment, especially in hiring and retaining teachers who have had students succeed on standardized tests. The purpose of this study was to explore the relationship between instructional coaching and special education teacher self-efficacy in hard-to-staff middle schools. The researcher explored whether teachers who worked closely with instructional coaches on a regular basis displayed higher levels of self-efficacy than did teachers who work with instructional coaches less often or not at all. The researcher also interviewed participants to generate deeper insight on the teacher-perceived definition of instructional coaching, self-efficacy, and factors that influence teacher career plans. A mixed-methods approach was used to collect and analyze data in this study. Quantitative survey methods were used to collect teacher self-efficacy data via the Teacher Sense of Efficacy Scale, and the qualitative focus group interview component was used with the participants. The researcher implemented 37 surveys and three focus group interviews with nine participants. The results of Research Question 1 (instructional coaching definitions) emerged as: (a) facilitating PLC meetings, (b) collaborating on planning, (c) modeling new instructional strategies, (d) observing teachers and providing feedback, and (e) communicating in multiple ways. Research Question 2 (coaching and teacher self-efficacy) resulted in three of the four relevant correlations to be significant. Key findings that pertained to Research Question 3 (factors that influenced career plans) were: (a) interpersonal interactions, (b) feeling challenged, (c) feeling successful, and (d) family responsibility; the leaving theme was identified as feeling overwhelmed. In the final chapter, these findings were compared to the literature, conclusions and implications were drawn, and a series of recommendations were suggested.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Dissertations (EdD) -- Organizational change; Middle school teachers -- Training of; Special education teachers -- Training of; Teacher turnover -- United States -- Prevention

Date of Award


School Affiliation

Graduate School of Education and Psychology



Degree Type


Degree Name


Faculty Advisor

Garcia-Ramos, Reyna;