Discussion Paper on Learning Coaches—Support for the Inclusive Classroom

This discussion paper documents the results of the literature review and subsequent discussion of the literature by the executive of the Special Education Council, as well as comments that were made as part of a panel discussion at the annual Special Education Council Conference held in October 2010. The content within the paper reflects current research, as well as the personal perspectives of experienced teachers working in special education. It is important to note that there was no common definition of learning coach in the literature; therefore, for the purposes of this paper the term learning coach describes a teacher who supports colleagues seeking to enhance their expertise in supporting all students, some of whom may have diverse and exceptional learning needs. A learning coach provides direct support to teacher colleagues. The coaching is collaborative in nature and intended to enhance the knowledge and skills of the teacher receiving coaching. The learning coach does not evaluate the teacher or specific practices but rather assists the teacher in identifying student needs within the classroom and the instructional response required to meet these learning needs.

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