A Study of Power Dynamics in a Literacy Coaching Relationship




Schmal, Julie

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The purpose of this study was to examine and analyze a literacy coaching relationship to learn about the power dynamics of the relationship, within the context of disciplinary literacy and with a focus on deconstructing and democratizing the power imbalances present. I used discourse analysis, in particular James Paul Gee's (2011b) building tasks and accompanying discourse analysis questions, to analyze transcripts of conversations between myself and a secondary Spanish teacher whom I coached. Bourdieu's theoretical framework grounded my analysis, and illuminated our use of capital to advantage and disadvantage one another in the social field of literacy coaching. The study found that the power dynamics in this coaching relationship were complex, multifaceted, and continuously shifting. These positional shifts did not progress linearly; rather, there was continual give-and-take between the coach and the teacher, in who held the most power at any point in the conversations. The use of a formative and design experiment approach allowed me to actively work to reconstruct the power relationships; however, the complexities of the coaching relationship prevented the power dynamics from ever becoming completely neutral and fixed.


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Coaching, Disciplinary literacy, Literacy, Literacy coaching



Interdisciplinary Learning and Teaching