One of the strategies used throughout my career with great success, has been Coaching for Improvement in the Classroom. This model was first introduced to me by the staff of Newcastle University. The model was developed by Lofsthouse and Leat, following a two-year research project, undertaken by the Research Centre for Learning and Teaching at Newcastle University and funded by CfBt Educational Trust and the national college. The full report, ‘Coaching for teaching and learning: a practical guide for schools’ details the findings of the research project and provides a useful guide for anyone wishing to introduce a model of coaching support in the development of teacher practice.
The model is based on a few basic principles:-
- It is different to other observation processes
- The teacher must want to improve their practice
- The coach and coachee build up a relationship of mutual trust and respect
- It is a peer to peer relationship, which allows two professionals to take time out to have a coaching conversation around classroom practice, and in particular the impact of teacher behaviours on learners and learning
- Coaches use coaching skills to have a coaching conversation to empower teachers and to support them to realise their full potential in the classroom
- The use of video within the model greatly enhances the impact from the process
- Teachers value the conversations around their pedagogy and what matters to them, the quality of their learners’ experiences within the classroom.
The coach acts as an active listener, supporter, and should enable the teacher to identify their own strengths and weaknesses, and the impact of their practice on their learners, the quality of learning and learner progress. The teacher can see for themselves, through the viewing of the video of their practice and considered reflections, how changes in their approach within the classroom can have a significant impact on their learners’ performance.
Coaching is a professional development model which works and gives sustainable results.
Avoid the pitfalls of introducing a model of coaching.
Training and support to introduce a model of coaching support within the classroom in your organisation can be provided. Use an experienced consultant and coach to take your team through the successful implementation of the model.
Step 1 – Initial day’s Training for your team of potential coaches.
Step 2 – Use an experienced coach to begin the process of coaching within your organisation with early adopters.
Step 3 – The consultant coach can provide ongoing support to your team of coaches during the early implementation of the model.
Result – you can build up an internal model of teacher support which has impact and delivers sustainable improvement in classroom practice.