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Research School Network: Reflecting on my experience of instructional coaching Research School Associate Fahim Rahman reflects on how instructional coaching has supported his development as a teacher


Reflecting on my experience of instructional coaching

Research School Associate Fahim Rahman reflects on how instructional coaching has supported his development as a teacher

by Durrington Research School
on the

The EEF guidance report on professional development shares 14 mechanisms of effective professional development. One of the groups of mechanisms focuses on developing teaching techniques’. The mechanisms in this group are:

- Instructing teachers on how to perform a technique.
- Arranging social support
- Modelling the technique
- Monitoring and providing feedback
- Rehearsing the technique

In this blog, fourth year science teacher and Research School Associate, Fahim Rahman, reflects on how he has been supported to do this through instructional coaching.

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I often find myself thinking back to my PGCE year. Doing so has afforded me perspective that I often lose grip on, as I develop in my teaching career. Remembering how long it took me to make lesson plans, the awful night’s sleep I got before performing my first ever starter activity. The (with hindsight) awful lessons I delivered. As I talk to newer colleagues, I reflect on what my own NQT experience would have been like under the current ECT framework, with its heavy focus on evidence informed teaching.

Beyond our training year we often find ourselves going from everyday feedback and development in our placements, to the occasional drop-in every now and then (as well as the accompanying bouts of paranoia and anxiety that doesn’t quite disappear with experience). While at times I revel in the freedom that comes with the command of my own classroom, one can at times feel quite isolated without the support and reassurance of mentors and colleagues. Not to mention the professional perspective as to why your lesson wasn’t as successful as you think it was.

In many districts they target help at the teachers who need support, who need help, who are having difficulties, well you know what? Every teacher has difficulties”

-Dylan Wiliam.

At Durrington to better create a culture of continual improvement, RQTs (Recently Qualified Teachers i.e. teachers in their second to fifth year of teaching) gain professional development in the form of Instructional coaching. During this, RQTs are paired with a member of SLT who, through regular drop ins, aims to give targeted, and specific ways to improve their teaching. These targets are given over the course of one term, and are specifically framed around the teaching styles, strengths and developments of the teacher itself. This coupled with specific coaching methods on implementing their strategies, through rehearsal, regular feedback, and opportunities for reflection. Now in my second term of the Instructional coaching programme, I thought I’d share my reflections on my targets as well as the impacts they have had to my classroom practice.

Pastore’s Perch


My First target given to me over the first term of Instructional coaching was Pastore’s Perch. Pastore’s Perch is an approach where, when you have set students to work on a task, rather than immediately go to circulate, move to a vantage point in your room where all students will be in your field of view. While the front of the classroom is our chosen stage during most of the lesson, often the most tactical position will be to the left or right corner of the room. While there, take the opportunity to survey the room, realign unfocussed students and give students an opportunity to venture out on their tasks independently.

FRA1

Pastore’s Perch enabled me to be able to set a better atmosphere in my class. Not only did it give me the opportunity to address expectations of working conditions, but it gave me the opportunity to observe my students and how they react to work. It allowed me to gauge which students were struggling with a task, by noticing their body language rather than allowing them to volunteer themselves for support. This meant that when the time came for me to circulate, I knew which students to target first.

Coupled with careful seating plan arrangement it enabled me to also ensure that students that were often distracted or disrupted, were sat in immediate proximity to my perch. This meant that they understood this was an area I would spend a regular proportion of my time, and prevented them getting opportunities to provide disruption

An unexpected side effect of Pastore’s perch was that it also enabled me to spend a few minutes collecting my own thoughts and reflections, it is not often that as a teacher you get a moment to be able to stop and not only reflect on how a teaching episode went. What issues there were with the explanation? what are they going to struggle with? etc.

3:30:30


Coupled with Pastore’s perch is the idea of 3:30:30. When students start an independent task, the teacher process to Pastore’s perch for three minutes. If a student indicates they need assistance, tell the student you will be with them in a few minutes. This often encourages the students to attempt to solve their own issues, with the added security of knowing you will come to support them momentarily. Following the three minutes, start circulating but only with students who need support for 30 secs before retreating to scan the room again for thirty seconds, before repeating the cycle.

Students have a stigma about being wrong, whether that’s because of embarrassment or sometimes because of not wanting to ruin their books with a wrong answer. The 3:30:30 rules provide students with encouragement in order to normalise being in their struggle zone. I found that by enabling students three minutes of time to independently attempt a task, it also provided a class culture of ill give it a go.” I also found that students became more metacognitive, choosing to spend the three minutes independence to plan their answers, recollecting strategies and schemas, and then when I would check progress, they would confirm their reasoning before committing.

Adam Boxer, a Head of science at the Totteridge academy in London provides a detailed explanation of Pastore’s Perch, and the 3:30:30 rules in a video called Setting students up to succeed” which can be viewed here. As well as many other behaviour management tools adapted from the Doug Lemov’s Teach Like a Champion 2.0

As my instructional coaching continues, I find myself comforted in seeing progress even in my fourth year of teaching. That I’m not subjected to improvements based on anecdotal evidence and hearsay. But rather evidence informed practice with justified, and tested approach. I have started taking my tips from my instructional coaching and passing them on to Trainee’s in my department. This Terms foci for me is Explicit explanation, and already the changes and implementations I’ve made are already bearing fruit.

Fahim Rahman

Research School Associate

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