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Steplab Insight Modules
News • 11 Sep '23
Claire Hill

The 'theory' aspect of teaching can too easily be missing when we work to improve as teachers. We're often provided with training on what a teaching technique is and how we might use it in lessons. But, at times the purpose or theoretical underpinning of that technique can be absent. This means we can struggle to use a technique flexibly or accurately.

At Steplab, we've invested 100s of hours over the last year to ensure that each of our action steps has a clear, research-engaged insight module that provides teachers with a guide for how techniques work 'under the hood.'

Why do we think this is important?

In contrast to many other forms of teacher development, instructional coaching is strong when it comes to driving behavioural change. However, it doesn't always do a great job of supporting coaches & teachers with understanding the 'why'.

Why is this a problem?

Theory is vital. Without this, coaches and teachers risk over-focusing on replicating techniques rather than building strong mental models of effective practice. If we don't fully understand HOW a technique works and what PURPOSE it serves, we may well end up using it at the wrong time or place and it means we're less able to adapt a technique for different classroom situations.

Let's take the example of cold call. This is a great technique but if you don't understand its purpose in maximising thinking time to improve efficiency and equity in learning then it can end up being used when other techniques, such as call & response, might be more appropriate.

"There's nothing so practical as a good theory."

— Kurt Lewin

At Steplab, we believe that building and strengthening teachers' knowledge of both theory and practice is essential. To help schools achieve this, we have created what we call *Insight Modules* for teachers to develop their knowledge of key techniques. There are 39 modules available, covering key areas of teaching practice ranging from using active listening routines to giving clear and memorable explanations, using questioning to generate thought, anticipating error, and giving one-to-one feedback. In addition, our new specialist content also includes its own insights modules. You can find out more here.

Each of our interactive modules includes videos and key questions divided into the following sections:

  • An Introduction summarising the technique and when and why it may be useful in lessons
  • An Evidence summary of the research underpinning the technique
  • Models of the technique in practice
  • Case studies of the technique being used in different subjects and phases
  • Non-examples of the technique to help teachers avoid lethal mutations
  • Consolidation and action planning to help teachers consider how they might put what they have learned into practice

Our study modules are designed to help teachers and coaches integrate theory into coaching in efficient and flexible ways.

Find out more

To learn more about our insight modules, along with other exciting developments, watch our 'What's New at Steplab?' webinar below.


  • Head to Library > Step library to explore all our teaching goal and steps, including our specialist steps.
  • Head to Library > Course library to explore all our courses, including the specialist study modules.

And if you have any questions or suggestions, just drop us a line at [email protected]


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