Teaching WALKTHRUs: Five-Step Guides to Instructional Coaching: By Tom Sherrington and Oliver Caviglioli

The Research Schools Network states:

It is a book that is refreshingly different from most other books about teaching both in its aim and its presentation. The aim: to be a ‘technical manual’. It looks simple but its aim is ambitious: to ensure that “all teachers can have “24/7 access to … a compilation of the best of the profession’s practices.” Like any manual or encyclopaedia, it may not be the most refreshing to read cover to cover, but certainly a ‘go to’ book when you need to.

It presents these practices in straightforward, concise language, with lots of pictures (dual coding) but it is deeply rooted in careful analysis of robust research into how humans learn – and it follows its own advice. Stylised drawings, for example, replace videos because research by Sweller et al (Cognitive Load Theory, 2011) suggests that videos are, counter-intuitively, hard to learn from. Too fast, too transient, too much irrelevant visual ‘noise.’

This is not a book which loves the latest fad, as the authors make clear on the first page. ‘Professional amnesia thwarts the attempt to build on past knowledge.’ There is a wonderfully succinct overview of some of the most robust evidence-based contributions to our understanding of the science of learning and an acknowledgement of how established, successful techniques can too easily be lost in favour of a new approach.

The authors suggest using this as a focus for coaching conversations to neutralize some of the emotion that clings to feedback, directing the emphasis back to a shared understanding of a common goal: good teaching. It would be an excellent tool for this.

But it also works as a book for teachers, a way to help them to use metacognitive and self-regulation strategies themselves. With sections on curriculum planning, explanation and modelling, questioning and feedback, practice and retrieval and more, it provides a comprehensive bridge between theory and practice.

We are also delighted to welcome the author Tom Sherington to Simon Balle to work with staff on our INSET day in November.