Introducing the Coaching Skills Builder

News • 11 Jan '23
Harry Fletcher-Wood

For years, we've wrestled with how we can help coaches to become more effective. Now, we're launching a tool we hope will make a big difference to coaches. Read on to find out what it is, why we’re launching it, and how you can get access.

Steplab exists because:

  1. It’s hard to become a better teacher;
  2. Instructional coaching can make a big difference, but;
  3. It’s hard to become an effective instructional coach too.

At Steplab, we’ve spent years refining our approach, trying to find ways to overcome the barriers to effective coaching. For example:

  • We know that teachers struggle to use vague feedback – and that it can be hard to pinpoint the most promising improvement a teacher can make -> so we offer a menu of precise action steps which encapsulate powerful ways to improve teaching.
  • We know it can be difficult to explain what great practice looks like -> so we have created video models for most action steps.
  • We know it’s hard to make a coaching conversation succinct and effective -> so we offer hints and suggestions as to how to structure the conversation, and how to introduce each new section

In the hundreds of schools we are working with, we’re seeing the benefits of this approach. We’re increasingly confident that we’ve developed a powerful tool to help coaches improve teaching.

But when I pick up a new tool, I almost always look for guidance before getting started. I rarely (never!) read the instructions cover to cover, but I’ll usually search for advice of some kind. (Even if I wait to make a mistake before seeking help.) Often, what’s really useful is watching a video which shows how I should be doing my DIY, my cooking, or whatever it is.

We asked ourselves what an equivalent resource for instructional coaching would look like.

Steplab’s Coaching Skills Builder is the result.

We’ve developed, tested, and refined a set of online training modules over the last year, designed to build the knowledge and skills an effective instructional coach needs.. We set out to do three things:

  • Show what great coaching looks like. We’ve filmed model videos so you can see and hear every stage of an effective conversation, from building trust at the start of a coaching conversation, to committing to action at the end.
  • Share powerful techniques. We’ve broken down every step of coaching, explaining what we've learned from brilliant coaches. We've set out the small tweaks which make a difference, and explained why they work.
  • Offer succinct, usable guidance. We know how busy coaches are. Each training module can be completed in just ten minutes. This means a coach can identify a challenge, put the kettle on – and know how to solve their challenge before they’ve finished their cup of tea.

The Coaching Skills Builder includes nineteen modules. They're structured around the coaching conversation. They begin with the questions a coach may have as they begin coaching: why instructional coaching? And how is it meant to work? They go on to examine how we can introduce the conversation, covering every step of coaching: setting up the first coaching session, picking action steps, sharing models, planning rehearsal, and helping teachers commit to change. And of course, we look at ways to address teachers’ scepticism, and what happens if coaching just doesn’t seem to be working.

Steplab’s Coaching Skills Builder is now available to all Steplab users. Getting started is easy:

  1. In the left-hand menu within Steplab, click on 'Library'.
  2. Select 'Steplab: Courses'.
  3. Click on the Coaching Skills Builder. You could even try one of the modules right now: each one is designed to take just ten minutes.

If you're not yet using Steplab, we'll be sharing some of our favourite models and resources in our next few blog posts. We’re going to focus on one of our favourite topics: how a coach can use models during a coaching conversation. We’ll look at:

  • How to plan or select a model
  • How to use a model during the coaching conversation
  • How to help teachers see their teaching in a new light, using a model. We look forward to hearing what you make of these new resources.

More resources
Building your coaching skills: by picking a great model
Harry Fletcher-Wood
Launching Steplab in Incremental Steps at Harris St John's Wood
Lizzie Stockdale, Rachel Sewell
Introducing the Steplab Certificate in Coaching Leadership
Harry Fletcher-Wood
Steplab Coaching Hubs
Ania Townsend
Building Support Systems at St Luke's
Alex Evans
See all

About Steplab

Supercharge teaching in your school.

Steplab is a professional learning platform for schools that harnesses instructional coaching and data-driven insights to systematically improve teaching.

Learn more