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Coaching others to coach
Coaching others to coach

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1 Are teacher observations a waste of time?

Education writer and speaker David Didau has questioned how observations of classroom practice contribute to learning and development. In the following activity you’ll use his blog as a prompt to think about the purpose of observing coaches.

Described image
Figure 2 When we observe what are we seeing?

As you will see from the title, the blog raises an interesting issue about where our focus should be when observing practice.

Activity 1 Are teacher observations a waste of time?

Timing: Allow about 15 minutes

Read the following short blog (3 minute read time) from David Didau:

Are teacher observations a waste of time? [Tip: hold Ctrl and click a link to open it in a new tab. (Hide tip)]

While reading the blog, identify any questions you think it raises about observing coaches. You might want to substitute the words ‘coach’ and ‘participant’ for ‘teacher’ and ‘student’ in the blog.

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Didau raises three questions that are of interest in relation to observing coaches. These are:

  1. Should you be observing what the coach is doing or should your focus be on watching their participants and the learning that is taking place?
  2. When observing a coach how prone are you to making judgements about their behaviour through your own ideas about what constitutes good practice? Your ideas might not be shared by the coach being observed.
  3. Being observed can be a stressful and intimidating process and people often feel uncomfortable being watched. To what extent does the process inhibit how receptive coaches might be to any learning opportunity it provides?

These important questions demonstrate how there is more to observational practice than you might think. You now move on to explore three different approaches to observing coaching practice and examine the difference between these approaches. The first approach is observing without the aid of a criteria or checksheet, the second is with a list of criteria and the third is through a process of systematic observation. Understanding these different approaches to observation will help you select the best approach for the role you undertake as a coach developer, albeit that in some situations your choice of approach may be determined for you.