- 1What are coached rehearsals?
- 2Why use coached rehearsals?
- 3How are coached rehearsals connected to the learning cycle?
- 4Which high-leverage practices should teacher educators pair with coached rehearsals?
A coached rehearsal is a live simulation of an episode of teaching led by a more expert guide. One novice teacher at a time acts as the teacher while the teacher educator facilitates and coaches. Other novice teachers may play P12 students or act as observers. Coaching involves not only offering directive feedback, but also surfacing decision points and problems of practice as they arise, inviting the group to collaboratively consider them.
Coached rehearsals entail:
- cycles of repetition that offer repeated opportunities to try out different instructional moves;
- feedback and coaching from some more expert guide; and
- opportunities for novices to work on critical components of real problems of practice without becoming overwhelmed.
(Kazemi et al., 2016; Lampert et al., 2013; Teacher Education by Design).
Coached rehearsals are a pedagogy of “approximation” (see Grossman et al, 2009; Grossman, Hammerness & McDonald, 2009). They typically take place inside the teacher education classroom or a similar space (e.g., debrief session with field instructor). They are designed to enable novice teachers to repeatedly try out aspects of teaching, confront difficulties, and make improvements. This is an especially useful pedagogy for developing skill with the interactive, relational work of teaching without putting children and their learning at risk.
Coached rehearsals create opportunities for novices to practice critical parts of teaching that require professional judgment. They offer space not only for practice, but for collective inquiry into the work of teaching. The group can pause, repeat, alter, and analyze the teaching in order to learn about the impact of different decisions and to weigh approaches to scenarios that they are likely to encounter in the classroom. They are designed to offer focused practice within the context of a grade- and content-specific lesson or activity (Kazemi et al., 2016; Lampert et al., 2013; Teacher Education by Design).
Coached rehearsals allow novice teachers to…
- practice interactive teaching skills
- develop judgement to support in-the-moment decision-making
- experiment with and revise teaching without impacting children
- gain a sense of how different students might engage in or respond to a lesson
- engage in collaborative inquiry into problems of practice
- develop a shared vision of good teaching
Coached rehearsals allow teacher educators to…
- provide coaching and feedback
- work on specific learning goals
- troubleshoot common dilemmas and problems of practice with novices
- learn more about novice teachers’ skills, habits and challenges
For more information, see the leading rehearsals primer at Teacher Education by Design
Because coached rehearsals are opportunities for novices to practice and receive targeted feedback before working with actual children, they typically occur during the “prepare” phase of the learning cycle (McDonald, Kazemi, and Kavanagh, 2013; Lampert et al., 2013; Teacher Education by Design). Coached rehearsals thus serve as a bridge from learning and practicing teaching to actually enacting instruction with real children.
Coached rehearsals are best paired with aspects of high-leverage practices and instructional content that are manageable and learnable, but that are also rich enough to provide ample opportunity for practice and analysis. Examples include coached rehearsals that engage novices in the following: modeling and explaining a reading strategy, posing questions in response to students’ ideas when eliciting their thinking, orienting students’ comments during a classroom discussion, providing feedback to students on a mathematical process, and so on.
Aspects of nearly every high-leverage practice can be rehearsed using this pedagogy. Specifically, teacher educators can use rehearsals to improve novice teachers’ skill at the following:
- Leading a group discussion
- Explaining and modeling content, practices, and strategies
- Implementing norms and routines for classroom discourse and work
- Coordinating and adjusting instruction during a lesson
- Specifying and reinforcing productive student behavior
- Implementing organizational routines
- Setting up and managing small group work
- Building respectful relationships with students
- Checking students’ understanding during and at the conclusion of lessons
- Providing oral and written feedback to students
- Learning about students’ cultural, religious, family, intellectual and personal experiences and resources for use in instruction