Research School Network: Instructional Coaching: The Hampshire SCITT Partnership Juliet Pearce, Director of Hampshire SCITT reflects on how instructional coaching is being developed to support trainee teachers

Instructional Coaching: The Hampshire SCITT Partnership

Juliet Pearce, Director of Hampshire SCITT reflects on how instructional coaching is being developed to support trainee teachers

by HISP Research School
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Instructional Coaching: The Hampshire SCITT Partnership

Sims (2019) defines instructional coaching as an expert teacher working with a novice in an individualised, classroom-based, observation-feedback-practice cycle. Crucially, instructional coaching involves revisiting the same specific skills several times, with focused, bite-sized bits of feedback specifying not just what but how the novice needs to improve during each cycle.”

If we use this definition, it is clear that all aspects of our training programme are designed to promote, facilitate and support instructional coaching.

Embedded in the ITT Core Content Framework (November 2019) is the concept of instructional coaching. The Expert Advisory Group helpfully defined the key terms used in the Framework:

Expert colleagues:
Professional colleagues, including experienced and effective teachers, subject specialists, mentors, lecturers and tutors.

Practise: Opportunities to use approaches defined in the Learn how to…’ column of the ITT Core Content Framework. 

Discussing and analysing with expert colleagues: Interrogate with an expert colleague – using the best available evidence – what makes a particular approach successful or unsuccessful, reflecting on how this approach might be integrated into the trainee’s own practice. 

Observing how expert colleagues … and deconstructing this approach: Working with expert colleagues – using the best available evidence – to critique a particular approach – whether using in-class observation, modelling or analysis of video – to understand what might make it successful or unsuccessful. 

Receiving clear consistent and effective mentoring: Receiving structured feedback from expert colleagues on a particular approach – using the best available evidence – to provide a structured process for improving the trainee’s practice.

Instructional coaching has always been at the heart of our work with trainees but as we reviewed our training programme early in 2020 in light of the new Core Content Framework, we identified a range of implicit and explicit ways in which we could embed its principles and content not only through our weekly centre-based training but also through the development of trainees’ practice in the classroom.

For a couple of years now, our training programme has been underpinned by Rosenshine’s Principles of instruction and in line with previous practice, we issued all our 2020 – 2021 trainees with a copy of Tom Sherrington’s Rosenshine’s Principles in Action’. Tom Sherrington’s attributes the staying power of the Principles to the fact that they are:

  • a highly accessible bridge between research and classroom practice
  • simple and direct so busy teachers will access them
  • rooted in evidence that has stood the test of time

and we are in complete agreement with these views. In essence, they are a summary of best practice.

We also issued trainees and, crucially, their mentors with Tom Sherrington’s and Oliver Caviglioli’s Teaching WalkThrus, five-step guides to instructional coaching which, in the introductory (Why?) section of the book, is described as a technical manual of the best of the profession’s practices”. We wanted to make mentors’ lives more straightforward – they are arguably the most important people in trainees’ professional lives and they are usually full-time teachers with a heavy workload – and also introduce another level of quality assurance to our programme i.e provide mentors and trainees with the best practices and the language, common to all programme stakeholders, to talk about these practices.

The processes we use in the training programme ensure that instructional coaching is at the heart of the training:

Weekly centre-based training incorporates Rosenshine’s Principles and the Teaching WalkThrus

Our lesson planning template directs trainees to incorporate the features/​steps of an effective lesson and support their development of their teaching. The lesson observation feedback form includes a criteria grid of effective teaching based on four of the five clusters of Standards in the ITT Framework (Behaviour Management: S1& S7, Pedagogy: S2, S4, S5, Curriculum: S3, Assessment: S6. The aim of this is once again to ensure that mentors have a common language with which to discuss the development of trainees’ practice and set precise targets.

Weekly review sheets form the basis of the hour-long weekly mentor meeting at which mentors and trainees discuss what the previous week’s SCITT training will look like in practice and what aspects of the training the trainee will implement in that week’s lessons. However, the central focus of the meeting is to discuss the trainee’s current performance and agree targets with strategies, i.e designing practice in manageable steps, for achieving those targets. Trainees enter their targets in the SCITT’s ePortal each week. This enables the SCITT Director to check the targets to make sure they are precise enough to support the trainees’ practice and to look for any patterns in the targets which could inform further SCITT training.

We have also made a substantial investment in IRIS Connect, providing access for all eighteen of our placement schools and working closely with our IRIS community co-ordinator to deliver training in the use of IRIS to trainees and mentors. Trainees film and share their lessons with their mentors, their Lead Subject Tutors and the SCITT Director. One of the facilities of IRIS is a commentary which trainees can add to reflect on aspects of their lesson or to ask questions of observers. Observers can also comment on aspects of the lesson. There are many advantages of this, particularly given the workload and teaching commitment of mentors. The clip can be edited to focus on the element of teaching which is being practised so time commitment is substantially reduced and because of this, trainees can receive feedback through a commentary very soon after a lesson. Trainees and their mentors as well as subject tutors can also observe the lessons together and this is a perfect opportunity for instructional coaching where the trainee can quickly put a coaching instruction into practice and then receive further feedback on it.

With the ITT Core Content Framework in mind, we are also using IRIS to record expert practitioners demonstrating the WalkThrus in their practice. Again, trainees and their mentors can watch these clips together, discuss the strategies e.g. use of modelling and discuss how the trainees could implement these strategies.

Our aim has always been to train truly reflective practitioners who have reaped the benefit of working with expert teachers to develop and refine their practice. At a time when teachers are dealing with new and unexpected challenges, the resilience of our early career phase teachers will never be more important.

Juliet Pearce- Director of Hampshire SCITT partnership

Four reasons instructional coaching is currently the best-evidenced form of CPD

ITT core framework

Rosenshine’s principles of instruction

Tom Sherrington’s book- Rosenshine’s principles in action

Teaching walkthrus

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