This is a guest post written by ADE, Consultant, Primary School Teacher, and Showbie Champion, Vickie Bacon, on the effectiveness of coaching for teachers.

This generation of youth is facing daunting challenges. Unemployment rates among young people are in at an all-time high. Far too many students find their schooling boring and irrelevant, and don’t consider it a predictable route to a good job and life. Teachers need to find the energy to generate change, and fast.

With technology, this is easier than anything else seen in past efforts to reform. New learning tools and resources can accelerate change when a new learning partnership emerges between students and teachers when digital tools and resources become pervasive.

Given the right conditions this would be unstoppable.

But this takes ambition, even bravery. With the instinct to go against the accepted route and to strike out. Being prepared to disrupt and question with a healthy dose of resilience to keep going when all those around doubt. That’s exactly what some forward-thinking schools are choosing to do. Having assessed their student body and made the connection between the wider world that surrounds the school. Teachers, school leaders, and educationalists are beginning to really champion technology. Not because it’s the latest fad, it’s here to stay. More importantly, it will drive the future. Enabling our students the use this tool to code, communicate, and control their world.

Let’s face it, teachers are provided with the opportunity to train when they are either a) exhausted or b) juggling a million other roles or worse — both! I have experienced a wide range of training from lectures led in badly ventilated rooms, to small cluster groups after school when the presenter reads their slide deck. Then helpfully hands out the whole deck printed and stapled almost as a justification of my time. This isn’t training nor is it effective to initiate a change in practice.

So what works?

Simple, in a word, coaching.

Coaching is a way to get back to basics, to connect on a personal level with a teacher in their own environment where they are more willing to ask questions that are relevant to their practice. They embrace ideas and new practices because they can see an immediate application. This can then be supported and nurtured through modelling the inclusion of technology in class, involving TAs or colleagues through observation, who then also witness the impact immediately. A mutually trusted foundation on which to build. Confidence is high as the teacher remains in control. After the initial steps, the teacher is willing to push the possibilities and expand their repertoire using technology. It follows that they are more likely to embrace and sustain the new pedagogy and want to share their positive experience with like-minded colleagues.

There are three simple steps to success. I have introduced this model into schools who have successfully embraced technology in their teaching and have witnessed the positive impact this has on their students.

  1. Introduction. Confidence building – planning for change.
  2. Inspiration. Competent practitioners modelling the new pedagogy in the class.
  3. Innovation. Committed teachers taking the responsibility for and ownership of the new practices.

Here are some comments from a cohort of amazing teachers who are nearing the end of their phased support at Bickley Park Prep School. They are already set to coach the next cohort because the process had such a profound effect on their teaching. Building a community of learners with a new learning partnership with technology as the tool that enables effective change.

“Planning days would be good where we all plan individually but there is someone continuously on hand to answer questions. Sharing ideas so that someone can see different things and mayn say ‘Have you thought about that’?”

“The process has had a much greater impact on my teaching than the day’s course I went on last summer.”

“The opportunity to work with other colleagues/partnering up really secures the learning from a professional point of view.”

“I know that my journey is still a journey and it is still early days. I am encouraged that I see clearly what lies ahead and I am excited rather than frightened by it. I know I will keep my support network from this course. I am not cut adrift now.”

I rest my case.

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