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Frequently asked questions 🙋

How can Steplab help improve teaching in my school?

Steplab is suite of tools and content which have been designed and developed over a number of years, along with schools, to systematically improve teaching. At its heart, Steplab focussed on helping schools to implement instructional coaching (IC), because evidence suggests this is one of the best ways to improve teaching. Steplab provides everything schools need to do IC well, including thousands of small teaching targets, hundreds of videos of effective teaching, practice tasks and more. It also provides school leads with data dashboards to help track and improve IC over time.

What is instructional coaching (IC)?

At the most basic level, instructional coaching is where one teacher helps another teacher to improve, through regular cycles of observation and feedback, focussing on one small improvement (or 'step') at a time. Here's a video walkthrough from Peps on the basic approach in more detail:

At Steplab we are building out a slightly more sophisticated version of this approach called responsive instructional coaching (RIC). See this essay by Josh for an overview of RIC.

Is there any evidence behind the Steplab approach?

Yes, lots! In general, the evidence around effective professional development (PD) for teachers is pretty bleak: most PD doesn't lead to improvements in pupil outcomes, and so is generally a waste of teacher time. Instructional coaching is one of the few approaches that have been shown again and again to have a positive impact on pupil outcomes. For a comprehensive analysis of the evidence underpinning the Steplab approach, check out this white paper written by Arielle and Josh.

Can Steplab help experienced teachers get better, or is it just for new teachers?

Instructional coaching is a powerful approach for ALL teachers, not just those at the start of their career. Teaching is a complex professional activity, and just as top singers, athletes use coaches to help them stay on top of their game, coaching can help experienced teachers to keep getting better too. The approach we use at Steplab is called responsive instruction coaching, which adapts to the expertise of the teacher being coached. See this this essay on responsive coaching by Josh for more.

Can we customise Steplab to align with our school values and priorities?

Yes, the customisation of Steplab content and approach is an important part of making instructional coaching work in a school. As a result, Steplab allows schools to adapt all the improvement targets ('steps'), sequences of steps, and uploads their own videos of effective practice. This means that schools can use the best bits of the content provided by Steplab whilst also ensuring that our language and approaches align with the culture and priorities of the school. We provide support to help schools do this customisation work.

How much support will we get from Steplab to make it work in our school? Can Steplab help us develop our staff into great coaches?

We provide a range of support to help schools make Steplab work well. This includes 1-to-1 support for school leads to help them get Steplab set up, train their coaches, and continue to develop their approach to maximise impact. We also provide online training materials and resources, which can be used at any time, to help train up coaches in your school. Finally, we provide regular webinars for school leads and coaches to provide schools with advice from experts and other schools around how to make Steplab work to maximum effect.

Can Steplab help us to see what's going on in our school and so help continually improve teaching and school culture?

Yes, Steplab has a powerful database which help school leads and coaches to see exactly what kinds of professional development is happening in school, by who, and when. Alongside this are a number of tools which schools can use to create the culture needed to make professional development work, including 'drop-ins' and 'shoutouts'. Together, these tools enable continual tracking, improvement, and celebration, and over time, develop more effective teaching and culture across schools and trusts.

We use Steplab as part of an Ambition/TeachFirst programme. Can we use Steplab for our other staff?

Absolutely. Whilst Steplab supports national provides with their programmes, our core work is helping schools and trusts to implement instructional coaching for all (or at least large proportions) of their staff. We have been helping schools to implement whole-school instructional coaching for over 5 years, and so have lots of expertise in how to make it work, and overcome common barriers such as timetabling and how to do a pilot within your school. Over 400 schools use us for whole-school instructional coaching: get in touch to explore how Steplab might help your school or trust.

Is it possible to do a trial of Steplab?

Yes, we offer a 1-month free trial. Just get in touch to find out more and set this up for your school.

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