Coaching at East Dene
At East Dene, we feel passionately about the impact Instructional Coaching can have on our practice. Having seen the success of our in-house phonics coaching, we have fostered a wider approach to coaching to ensure that all our teachers have access to high-quality CPD centred around pedagogy. We were conscious that the new Early Career Framework is steeped in research and as Klassen and Chiu suggest, teacher development is not a linear process; it is a lot more complex and experience is one factor (Klassen & Chiu 2010) but there are many other things at play as well as experience.
Therefore, to ensure teachers stay abreast of the most up-to-date research, we wanted to adopt Instructional Coaching and be able to refer to our own teaching and learning rubric that would be a base of evidence that all teachers could draw upon.
As the diagram above outlines, there is a perception that quality of teaching improves purely down to the longer a teacher has been teaching. However, experience alone is not the sole route to professional development. Often, professional development can be decided upon following a lesson observation. We felt that our approach of using high-stakes lesson observations was outdated and not supportive of teachers’ practice. Some of the issues we had with termly lesson observations included:
- Annual lesson observations are not effective in developing teachers.
- They are stressful and high stakes.
- Teachers are often overwhelmed by the number of actions.
- There are often no follow up actions.
- These don’t always give an accurate representation of day-to-day practice.
The diagram below illustrates how we arrived at our East Dene Coaching approach:
Once we had decided to use coaching at East Dene, we spent time reading research, particularly the work Jim Knight. We are fortunate to have extremely talented practitioners at East Dene and, as a result, wanted to start having purposeful professional dialogue after observing sessions. Knight suggests that a dialogical approach (see diagram below) gives staff more autonomy and gives the teacher more opportunities to decide on their professional development path. After speaking with staff, they felt the dialogical approach would be supportive and helpful, though other approaches should be utilised where required.
We knew that our approach to coaching was going to be a long process and as a result, felt that writing an implementation plan (EEF) would help leaders have clarity on our rationale and be able to map out our journey into coaching.
Once we had decided on our coaching approach, we knew that to develop staff, we needed a platform that teachers could work on specific goals. As a result, we spent a long period of time developing a teaching and learning rubric. The rubric is split into 10 sections on pedagogy, from behaviour to retrieval practice. This resource has a raft of supportive CPD videos and guides to ensure teachers have access to the latest research and have clear instructions on how to use this effectively with their coach’s support. Staff now have access to all areas of the rubric and also have a clear teaching and learning structure, which we have summarised and captured as our teaching and learning protocols, an example of which can be seen here:
Once the rubric and protocols had been created, we knew we could begin the coaching approach. We had an approach to coaching that we knew staff would buy into; we had a clear implementation plan for all stakeholders to follow; we had resources available to set goals that are steeped in current research and we had training linked to all the research to support staff. At this point, we knew we could follow the coaching cycle below.
All staff are clear that coaches will focus on pedagogy and ensure that the standard of teaching remains high. Subject Leaders can still drop in and observe sessions but their feedback should only be focused on subject knowledge and not linked to any areas of the rubric or teaching and learning protocols, as these are areas only covered by a coach and the coachee should have up to two weeks to practise each goal.
For more information about our approach to coaching, please see our coaching policy.