Review - The art of instruction

Get your coaches in the game with this convivial how-to guide

Good coaching of new teachers comes from understanding the needs of the trainee and being a keen listener with unrivalled patience and raw honesty, according to Jackie Beere and Terri Broughton in The Perfect Teacher Coach, the latest addition to the The Perfect... series.

However, you have to wade through several pages of plaudits and a foreword by Vic Goddard, principal at Passmores Academy in Essex, before you finally get to this insight.

There is an unfortunate sense that the authors believe they are in theoretical territory and need to justify themselves. This is unnecessary: both are leading practitioners who have cited notable figures in education throughout the text. This alone is enough of a guarantee that we are in for an informative and engaging read. Adding an extensive preamble only undermines the book rather than solidifying its credentials.

Once you are past the lengthy introduction, you quickly realise that making coaching a science is not the mantra of the book. The terse chapters reveal that "Coaching is not a fluffy, cuddly, open-ended process that takes hours" and go on to explain how you avoid falling into the trap of allowing it to become so.

The book does this through interactive activities, scenarios and diagrams that reveal a deep consideration of teacher coaching. This is all communicated through convivial, light-hearted language, ensuring that the text avoids being too didactic.

One of the highlights of the book is its honesty. This is not one of those "include everyone" diatribes that seeks to squeeze people into boxes they could never possibly fit into. It recognises that "not all teachers will want to be coaches (and) not all... have the temperament", which is a refreshingly honest observation. This frankness continues throughout and serves to build faith between the reader and the researchers.

Forward in faith

That faith is important because The Perfect Teacher Coach is on a mission to prove that coaching is an integral part of improving a school, one that enriches all those involved in the training process. By the end, you are on their side, agreeing that coaching can make a "tremendous difference".

This is despite the writers' occasional lapses into "government speak", when they forget their teaching audience and describe concepts in a way that can seem superficial, particularly in the quote-laden middle chapters.

Also, the book has some overly politically correct interjections, such as "students as coaches", which in practice may prove to be a flawed and artificial process. "Student voice" is great but so is a "teacher's voice", which seems to be increasingly diminished within the hegemony of education.

These flaws do not take away from the fact that The Perfect Teacher Coach is a highly suitable guide for anyone wishing to review how they coach, or a teacher who wishes to enter the coaching arena and feels they are ready to take flight.

Chris C Green is an English and theory of knowledge teacher at Ecole Internationale de Geneve. The Perfect Teacher Coach by Jackie Beere and Terri Broughton is published by Crown House, #163;9.99


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