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The impact of instructional coaching on mentoring and teaching

Instructional Coaching

Stuart Vine is a science teacher at Vale of York Academy.

He is a RQT +2 and he has now taken on the mentoring of ITTs and NQTs in science.

His areas of focus are in metacognition and using Rosenshine’s Principles of learning in the classroom.

This academic year saw the rollout of the Early Careers Framework (ECF), a programme to support teachers at the beginning of their careers with instructional coaching as the means to do so.

The impact of instructional coaching on mentoring and teaching

Instructional coaching is built around the idea of deliberate practice. This differs from ‘normal’ practice because it focuses on what to improve to be an expert and how to do it. For example, playing a game of football each day for a year may make you better at football, but if you focus on specific, manageable skills with a model for success and timely feedback, then it will accelerate your improvement.

Instructional coaching has improved my mentees’ pedagogy. Instead of feedback being generic and too infrequent, the mentee can now reflect on their current performance and see what the desired performance should look like on a weekly basis. They can practise this in a controlled setting and then implement it in the classroom. The key to this model is mastery. There is no expectation to move on to the next action point until both the mentor and mentee are happy. Through the ECF, my mentee has shown a marked improvement in their pedagogy. It has also informed my teaching practice because to model the desired actions to the mentee; I needed to reflect on what action was needed, why it was needed, and how it could be implemented. This reflection on a weekly basis has led me to change the things I do in the classroom and unlearn bad habits.

The strategies for coaching can also be used in teaching. The pupils are the same as the mentees in that they are working at a current performance and we would like to get them to a target performance. I have looked at the type of activities the pupils do and whether they are focused and allow repetition of the same performance target for it to be deliberate practice. Below are the questions which came from this:

  • Is the gap too big between current performance and their target performance?
  • Do they have a clear model of how to get to their target performance?
  • Do they have a controlled environment to practice and receive timely feedback?
  • Do they have a chance to review the target?
  • Can they stay on a target for as long as it needs to master it?

Currently, I am trying to address these questions and design activities in science to allow for deliberate practice in the classroom. It is also becoming clear how neatly deliberate practice fits in with Rosenshine’s Principles of Learning, with most of the principles essential to effective deliberate practice.

What’s next?

In the future, I would like to look at mastery in science. In particular, the limitation of time in following a mastery approach as unlike an ECF mentee there is a fixed amount of time to cover a certain amount of content and skills.

Recommended reading

Stuart recommends the following books as ‘worth a read’:

  • Teach Like A Champion 2.0 by Dough Lemov
  • The Learning Rainforest by Tom Sherrington
  • Visible Learning Feedback by John Hattie and Shirley Clarke
  • The Magenta Principles by Mike Hughes
  • Connect The Dots by Tricia Taylor with Nina Dibner
  • Teaching Walkthrus by Tom Sherrington and Oliver Caviglioli
  • Powerful Ideas of Science and How to Teach Them by Jasper Green
  • Making Every Lesson Count by Shaun Allison and Andy Tharby
For more information

Contact: Stuart Vine, Vale of York Academy, E: s.vine@voy.hlt.academy

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