Does the fear of someone watching you teach send chills down your spine? What about co-teaching beside someone that has much more expertise than you? Something that the St Luke’s philosophy has always been founded on is a coaching model for teachers. This has meant that instructional coaches are employed with a smaller teaching load to assist teachers in improving their practice.
In 2019, we started with the Timperley cycle to define what coaching would look like in our setting. This follows the work of Helen Timerley following the diagram below. It has a basis of designing learning tasks around a learning need and taking teaching actions to hopefully have an impact either in learning or wellbeing.
The other day I was reflecting on the opportunities I’ve had in my time at St Luke’s – for the past two years I have had another teacher by my side more than I can count. Towards the end of last term I reached out for coaching support to create writing tasks that were low flow high ceiling, meaning I would be able to cater for all student levels within my classroom. With the help of Mark Bennett, our stage leader and coach, we fleshed out a goal which identified the core components of what would make writing within my space a 10/10. My goal was identified as: Students will access differentiated writing activities, through processes and procedures utilised in the classroom, that encourage independence and high quality work. In my classroom this has looked like setting up processes for students to achieve at any level as well as encouraging high quality work at every turn.
Weak / Strong Examples
Reflecting on weak and strong examples has allowed students to self assess their work and visualise where to next. In the image below we were focusing on understanding that sentences only needed to include one idea instead of a short half completed idea or a series of run-on sentences. Students then rate themselves and then went back to improve on where they were at.
Another procedure we’ve put in place in our classroom is effective partnerships. This means setting students up for success with a learning partner who is either jointly working on a similar goal or who can assist them to work towards a bigger goal. This has included working on tasks that allow for sequencing ideas and putting paragraphs back in order.
Start Small to Go Big
This has possibly been my biggest learning. Sometimes pushing through with a sustained text is not the best approach for the learners in front of us. By taking smaller steps completing components of texts students have come to a greater understanding of what particular elements of writing look like.
The coaching cycle commenced by discussing a goal and now it looks like co-planning, co-teaching and co-reflecting weekly. My writing lessons are dynamic and students have shown more engagement within the classroom. So while sometimes I still get chills down my spine and think, you want to watch me teach!? The pros by far out weigh the cons.