Schools working together - Primary
What does it mean to work with others and what skills will I need?
“The teacher’s job is to organise and provide the sorts of experiences which enable pupils to construct and develop their own understanding of mathematics, rather than simply communicate the ways in which they themselves understand the subject” (National Curriculum, Non-Statutory Guidance, 1989, page C2).
Professional learning, like pupils' learning, is best supported by engaging colleagues in the process and helping them to develop their own approaches. It is not helped by merely telling people what to do.
Working with others to help them improve their practice is a complex and challenging task. It is not enough just to be good at what you do.
Coaching and Mentoring
The purpose of any support you offer another colleague or school is to help them improve and, as such the professional relationship you have with them is crucial. The skills of coaching and mentoring are of great importance in this relationship.
Coaching is unlocking a person’s potential to maximize their own performance. It is helping them to learn rather than teaching them. (Whitmore, 1995)
A mentor is a more experienced individual willing to share their knowledge with someone less experienced in a relationship of mutual trust. A mixture of parent and peer, the mentor’s primary function is to be a transitional figure in an individual’s development. Mentoring includes coaching, facilitating, counselling and networking. (Clutterbuck, 1991)
(These two quotes are taken from “Coaching, mentoring and peer-networking: challenges for the management of teacher professional development in schools” (Rhodes & Beneicke, 2002))
Reflective Activity 2 – Coaching versus mentoring
The terms “Coaching” and “Mentoring” are often used as inter-changeable terms, however there are differences.
Read section 1.6 - Coaching versus mentoring on pages 7 and 8 of “Coaching for teaching and learning: a practical guide” (Lofthouse, Leat & Towler 2010))
Use this Resource sheet: Coaching and Mentoring to unpick the key differences between coaching and mentoring. Decide if the statements are related to ‘Coaching’ or ‘Mentoring’.
Reflective Activity 3 – The case for coaching
The purpose of any support you offer another colleague or another school is to help them improve and, as such the professional relationship you have with them is crucial. The skills of coaching and mentoring are of great importance in this relationship.
“Working on coaching for teacher development in schools is worth the effort, but to do it well school leaders and coaching participants need to pay attention to the detail of its practice and purpose.
Good coaching encourages teachers to:
- develop self-confidence;
- have an increased willingness and capacity to learn and change;
- enhance their knowledge and understanding;
- adopt a wider repertoire of teaching and learning strategies;
- have increased confidence in the power of teaching to make a difference;
- become more reflective, articulate, exploratory and metacognitive in relation to their work and its impact on learners.
Perhaps the most important message is that coaching does not offer a quick fix; instead it provides a vehicle for change through evolution, not revolution.”
(From “Coaching for teaching and learning: a practical guide” by Rachel Lofthouse, David Leat and Carl Towler)
Read Section 2 “The case for coaching” (pages 8 to 10) from “Coaching for teaching and learning: a practical guide” by Lofthouse, Leat and Towler and reflect on this and how this way of working might be helpful when working with other schools.
Reflective Activity 4 – Operating coaching in your school or another school
Read section 3 “Conducting a coaching review” on pages 12 – 15 of “Coaching for teaching and learning: a practical guide” by Lofthouse, Leat and Towler.
Have there been situations in your own school where you have needed to employ coaching and mentoring techniques in the past? How successful was this and what did you learn from the process?
How might you employ coaching and mentoring techniques when working with colleagues in another setting?
Further helpful materials can be found:
- In the “Coaching and Mentoring” section of the National College for Leadership of Schools and Children’s Services website.
- In the “Effective Mentoring and Coaching” suite of materials produced by CUREE.
National Curriculum, Non-Statutory Guidance, 1989, page C2.
Whitmore, J. (1995) Coaching for performance: A practical guide to growing your own skills. London: Nicholas Brealey)
Clutterbuck, D. (1991) Everyone needs a mentor. London: Institute of Personnel and Development)
Christopher Rhodes & Sandra Beneicke (2002): Coaching, mentoring and peer-networking: challenges for the management of teacher professional development in schools, Journal of In-Service Education, 28:2, 297-310
Lofthouse, R., Leat, D. and Towler, C., 2010, “Coaching for teaching and learning: a practical guide”, National College for School Leadership.