Professional Development Platform

October 16, 2020 Reading Time: 25 Minutes Contributor: Chris Baker

Instructional Coaching

Instructional coaching is becoming more and more popular in educational settings due to its strong evidence base and forms a key part of the CLF Early Career Teacher (ECT) Programme in partnership with the Ambition Institute.

Instructional coaching contrasts more traditional coaching models where the coach asks a series of open questions in order to draw out the answer that the practitioner is already aware of. Instructional coaching assumes that there are some areas where the teacher being coached is more novice and that the coach, being more expert, will be able to guide their improvement in those areas. During instructional coaching the coach is less of a sounding board or facilitator of reflection and more of a guide or instructor.

The Model of instructional coaching used by the Ambition institute includes three cyclical stages (Study, Observe, Feedback) and the following blog post explains those in more detail.

Key characteristics of the model include:

  • The focus is on bite-sized steps for improvement (action steps)
  • Effective practice is modelled by coaches
  • Teachers have opportunities to practice prior to performance
Study – Click to open

Coach and coachee should ensure that they have a clear understanding of what effective practice looks like for the current action step, how it fits into a larger improvement goal and the relevant success criteria. for the ECT programme we utilise the online resources held on the Ambition Institute’s website – LINK

Observe – Click to open

Once the action step have been agreed the next key stage is observation. Observations should be brief, non-intrusive and focused on the current action step.

Feedback – click to open

This is often called the ‘Meet’ stage and is where the feedback and coaching takes place. The different stages are shown below with suggested timings.

Praise – 2min

Coaching sessions should start positively with references to the positive aspects of the observation. Particular reference should be made to the current action step and the impact on student learning.

Remember to:

  • Be specific
  • Link praise to action step
  • Emphasise impact on learning

Action Step & Modelling – 8min

The session should then focus on the selection of the next action step. Action steps are bite sized areas for improvement that contribute to larger areas of development. Coaches should then model the selected action step with specific reference to the success criteria.

Remember to:

  • Keep action steps small
  • Make them clear & measurable
  • Choose areas of highest impact
  • Model in classroom if possible
  • Narrate key elements
  • Highlight success criteria
  • Use non-examples

Discuss – 8min

The next step involves a discussion on how current practice differs from the model. Coachees should be encouraged to drive the reflection linking back to the success criteria and the impact on student’s learning.

Remember to:

  • Get coachees to reflect deeply
  • Link back to success criteria
  • Highlight impact on learning

Practice – 10min

This section is arguably the most important and involves the coachee practicing the agreed action step. The coach should provide feedback on practice attempts using the success criteria. Coachees should be encouraged to repeat the practice to correct errors and improve fluency.

Remember to:

  • Protect time for this stage
  • Make practice authentic
  • Feedback on success criteria
  • Re-practice to correct errors
  • Re-practice for fluency

Plan – 2min

This final stage of the meeting involves planning the logistics for the next cycle of study, observation and feedback.

Remember to:

  • Create a regular routine
  • Protect time
  • Communicate between stages


Quick Guide to the Feedback Process

Further Reading