lesson observation

The Future of Teacher Training

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Is it time to radically change teacher training?

Teacher training has been the same for a long time! After studying the theory of education, trainee teachers spend blocks of time in schools. They move from observing different aspects of lessons (watching teachers and students) to teaching small parts of lessons, to whole lessons and series of lessons. Feedback (often following a fairly dogmatic script) is given by more experienced teachers and mentors who are present in the room for all or most of the lesson, and self-reflection and analysis are promoted.

But is this the best method?

Compare this process with other professional activities. Watching a video of yourself in action and discussing the actual events in it with an expert coach is becoming a regular occurrence for many professionals, from sportspeople to surgeons. This idea is now coming to classrooms around the world

We take a look at the key benefits of remote video coaching below and show how they’ve helped teachers in schools we’ve been working with in India and the UK fast track their development… and what they have claimed to be the future of teacher training.

5 Key benefits of remote coaching

1. A focus on improvement, not compliance

An expert coach is exactly that – someone who is tasked with making a real improvement to the professional. Teachers we’ve worked with report that it is a completely different experience to their previous experience of lesson observation with a colleague who arrives with a tick-list to check compliance. A coach will use dialogue and feedback to identify areas for discussion and then work to solve problems and improve teaching and learning. As described by some of the teachers at our partner schools, this experience is non-judgemental and solely focused on the areas that can be improved – they are not there to catch them or mark them down.

2. An objective approach

Using video and setting up remote discussions means that the coach is well removed from the school. They’re not going to disturb the lesson, or impose order with their presence. They will not have any preconceived ideas (negative or positive) about the children, class or year group – or even about the teacher! Equally, video offers very accurate evidence to what really happens in the classroom, discarding the possibility of bias interpretation of facts from both teacher and coach, allowing for an honest dialogue on the improvement and success areas.

3. Flexibility and reduced cost

Coaching and mentoring in schools, like most professional development activities, happen sporadically. Trainee or newly qualified teachers may be observed at the start of a term but may then wait for weeks for a visit from their external mentor, while experienced teachers might have to wait until an ‘end of year’ performance review for any advice at all! Using an external coach means that sessions can be scheduled regularly and tactically, for example, to support the teaching of a particularly difficult class, or the introduction of a new curriculum. And more, remote coaching using video doesn’t require the teacher and coach to be face-to-face for their sessions, thus allowing schools to schedule training in a more efficient and cost-effective way.

4. A positive and personal focus

While teachers at the very start of their career may have very similar development needs, this rapidly becomes untrue as teachers develop different aspects of their practice at different speeds. And experienced teachers may find that most whole-school training and development programmes cover areas that they feel comfortable with already. Coaching, on the other hand is personal. It helps teachers with the issues they are facing now, and helps them embed good practice for the future.

5. A transformative experience for staff

Having an individual coach may seem like a luxury but it can also have a huge impact on teachers. In a time where one in seven newly qualified teachers drops out in the first year of teaching in English schools and when there is a global teaching shortage, a coach might save your school a huge amount in retention and recruitment costs! Teachers tell us that coaching has renewed their interest and passion for teaching, while teaching teams have been able to work together to solve specific issues affecting their subject or phase.

SHOW ME THE EVIDENCE…

As with all changes in education, it is vital to review new ideas and evaluate its supporting evidence. That’s why all of the examples given above are part of formal case studies that are available on our website. Please have a look at them in detail!

(Use arrows to see a preview of The Doon School case study)

Click to get access to more school reports:

Doon School (India)
Aston University Engineering Academy (UK)
The Hereford Academy (UK)

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(If you’d like to be part of the future of teacher training in your school, trust, teaching school or university, please get in touch!)