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Tips for Teachers newsletter #15
Coaching, being clear & Jake Gordon
Hello, and welcome to the Tips for Teachers newsletter. For over 400 ideas to try out the very next time you step into the classroom, check out my Tips for Teacher book.
💡 A quick tip to try in class this week 💡
Recently I have been lucky enough to do some coaching of maths colleagues in a number of schools that I work with. In the past my coaching has been wishy-washy at best, and pretty pathetic at worst.
Fortunately I have been able to learn from those far better than me, and I now have a coaching process that seems much more effective. I will share the process below, together with some examples of it in action, but first I wanted to mention what I consider to be the key change: the hypothesis, critical evidence combo.
When I first go into a lesson, I spend the first few minutes watching the teacher, watching the students, trying to get a sense of what is going on. Then I form a hypothesis. I may suspect students have not understood what the teacher has said, or that the teacher will not pick up on something that I can see from my privileged position, or that something is about to happen.
I will then spend the next few minutes gathering critical evidence to support my hypothesis. This could be something quantifiable (e.g. the number of students not doing something), a direct quote of what the teacher said, how a student responded to a question I asked them, or photos of students’ work.
In the coaching session, following specific praise on what the teacher did really well, I can present my hypothesis and then - and this is the key bit - share the evidence I gathered to support it. I cannot tell you how much more effective this part of the coaching process is in terms of getting a colleague to buy into it, compared to the usual vague "I am not sure all students were engaged" rubbish that I used to spout. The critical evidence lends credence to the hypothesis, presenting somewhat objective data, and means we can then build upon this as together we plan steps to improve things.
What would you need to change to make this tip work for you?
When could you try it for the first time?
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📺 A video to discuss with a colleague 📺
Head of Maths, Charlie Burkitt explains why we need to be clear with our students and follow-through on what we say.
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👂 A podcast episode to listen to on your way home 👂
Computer whizz, Jake Gordon, shares his five tips:
Share photos of students’ work
Reduce clutter from everything students see and hear
Try teaching from anywhere in the room
Modify your lessons as you go
Give worked examples with retrieval starters
Listen to the podcast here.
😎 Final bits and bobs 😎
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