This was to be the final week of my Coursera course from Match Education. I knew when I began this learning that coaching was an area of my practice I felt that it was vital for me to develop. I don’t think I could have chosen a better way for me to begin this journey and having applied some of the approaches to my practice already- I am beginning to see how transformative these things might be for me, fellow leaders, coaches and our colleagues- and therefore how transformative for our students too.
Read week 1 here (an introduction to the coaching equation)
Read week 2 here (fixed mindset tax)
Read week 3 here (clarity of instructional vision)
Read week 4 here (quality of feedback – currently missing)
As it’s the final week, we’re able to see that Mr Good Coach has now graduated to Mr Effective Coach!
He is clear about the teacher’s last big takeaway before he goes in to observe and this is clear and specific- ‘Improve student time on task by more quickly noticing and responding student misbehaviour, particularly students having side conversations when they’re in group discussion.’ There’s clearly some actions to be expected from the teacher in relation to this being observed but there’s also clarity about the behaviours we can expect to see from the students. He’s clear about the ineffective practice seen in a previous lesson and he’s also clear about the impact this has on the students’ learning- when the side-conversations are taking place – the students are not able to hear the feedback she’s giving to their peers therefore there are wasted opportunities to learn.
After the observation, he’s able to provide a summary easily as he knows what he’s been looking at and for. He has also ensured that the debrief is 20 minutes after the observation to give each of them some time to take notes and reflect but not so long that the learning opportunity has faded away.
The coaching session begins with a ‘let’s dive right in’. There will be no time wasted on chatting but the relationship between them is warm- they’ll achieve what they need to in this session. What was your big takeaway? The teacher is prompted to share the takeaway and he asks her to reflect on how it went. The teacher reflects and is able to reference the things they had clearly practised together in their previous session.
He is able to prevent the teacher from diving into a fixed mindset by referencing solid evidence of what he’s seen. He’s able to compare the number of side-conversations last lesson with the number this time around. She still believes that she’s not ready to move onto another target as she feels she hasn’t mastered this one. He is able to point this out as an ‘unhelpful moment’ and says, ‘I want you to think about it differently.’
‘You didn’t miss one side-conversation you went from missing 7, to missing 1.’ He asks the teacher to repeat that back to him in order to help her out of her fixed mindset. She’s now ready to move on and so he asks her to remind herself what strategies they had discussed to address the side-conversations. She is able to recall these and now the coach is able to share how many times he saw these approaches displayed; when, with whom and their effect on student learning. Specific moments of the lesson are referenced continually. He’s then able to give her his implementation score for how well she implemented the approaches (and the impact on the students).
He gives her some praise for something else he saw (positive praise of a student) as he felt it was well worth noting and he moves on to the next big takeaway.
He’s able to reference the Kraken (their shared instructional vision) and which category within that they’ll be moving into- student practice. ‘Remind me, in a nutshell, what our vision is for student practice?’ The teacher is now able to share what she understands about this area of practice so that they can continue to move onto the next big takeaway in partnership.
He had been able, during his observation, to calculate the number of minutes students had spent on independent practice (9) and he’d also observed that during group discussions, there were maybe 5 kids engaged. He asks her, ‘What are some problems with that?’ This is where the coach is working to elicit what the next big takeaway will be for the teacher and the focus is on the students and their learning at all times.
After she’s articulated the problems for learning with this, the coach is then able to provide her with an action- ‘You’re going to turn 3 of your discussion questions from discussion questions into ‘stop and jot’.
He was able to quote some of the approaches she’d taken to these questions during the lesson- ‘Which was the most rigorous and why?’ He’s encouraging her to use cold call and she can see that this will help her students to engage and therefore learn but also stop and jot at other times so that she’s able to assess their response to provide feedback and all students will have the opportunity to practise.
Now to the teacher’s opportunity to practise- he discusses what she’s teaching tomorrow and asks her to note a string of questions she’ll ask tomorrow.
He makes it authentic by getting her to stand up.
She begins, ‘Johnny, what effect…’
The coach questions her about the effect of saying the name first and the focus is on the impact on students of questioning in this way. Feedback is immediate and helpful.
She says ‘think about’– he repeats, ‘Think about?’ She says, ‘Write about!’ They go on like this for some time until she’s written an effective question. The coach keeps the session to time so he asks her to script another moment and practise them in lessons before he will see her next in a week’s time.
The next steps for me will be to-
- Try out the coaching approaches for myself with staff I work with
- Introduce the approaches to our leaders
- Produce some quick guides and resources to support us
- Explore more coaching learning from Match Education and elsewhere
Explore ‘Match Minis’ here for yourself to support the development of your own coaching skills.