So this course attempts to look at what makes effective (as opposed to good) coaching. So what have I learnt from Week 1? They introduced a formula for effective coaching which facilitates teacher change in order to improve student learning.
For teacher change that results in improved student learning and lasts:
- There needs to be a shared understanding of what effective instruction looks like and, preferably a common language for talking about that.
- Feedback must be focused, aligned with the shared vision, target high-leverage areas for growth, be supplemented with modelling and practice and have accountability built in
- The effectiveness of coaching will depend on the mindset of the teacher engaged in the coaching and whether they believe they have the ability to change or improve in the areas they need to change or improve in.
I'm particularly interested in the process of establishing a shared vision of what effective instruction looks like. In Singapore, they have guiding principles for teaching, which consist of a set of overarching principles about teaching which have been derived from the findings of research about children's learning from a range of fields, such as psychology, education, neuroscience. With these as their touchstone, providing deep conceptual understandings about teaching and learning, the teachers are able to make lessons focused on learning, personalised and student-centred, in a range of subjects and disciplines.
I was recently at a workshop with Ban Har, a leading expert in professional development in Singapore, who, when I asked him what he thought the key was to effective professional learning, cited common guiding principles for teaching and learning, research-based and accountable to evidence, which form the basis of all professional discussions. In fact, he said, with that, teachers were not only able to engage in discussions that worked in a similar way to the coaching described above regularly and easily, but did it without even realising.
Of course, there are issues of teacher autonomy and democracy and avoiding group think etc to be considered. But I think they're on to something.