Impact Coaching improves engagement with students

Issue: Volume 97, Number 21

Posted: 26 November 2018
Reference #: 1H9ouQ

A group of schools in Nelson is taking part in a process called Impact Coaching, where teachers are observed by their peers and given judgement-free feedback.

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Deputy Principal Jane Townsend records evidence of relationships-based teaching during a science class.

Teachers in Nelson who are involved in Impact Coaching are saying it’s helping their teaching practices. The process starts with teachers’ practice being observed by their fellow workmates, who have been trained as ‘impact coaches’, and they then discuss what they’ve seen with their colleagues. The next step is for teachers to be supported to self-monitor their goals, including trialling and adapting different teaching strategies.

Impact coaches at Nayland College facilitate meetings about target learners where students’ attendance, retention, engagement and achievement information is shared and discussed. Teachers then research, share and trial strategies they believe will have positive impacts on learning outcomes.

“Impact Coaching is based on evidence rather than opinion, so there’s very clear evidence used in the way we analyse lessons,” says Janice Gulbransen, Kahui Ako Lead Principal.

Positive and reflective feedback

Pete Mitchener, Principal of Broadgreen Intermediate, says, “We’re holding a mirror up to ourselves. We’re making learning more visible, enabling teachers to receive positive and reflective feedback from their colleagues and for them to consider how they engage
with students.”

Collaboration is an important aspect of the Kāhui Ako and impact coaches get together regularly to share their learning with each other. 

“We focus on particular students and the learning impact that teachers are having on them, and how we can make it more powerful,” says the principal of Nayland College Daniel Wilson. “By focusing on the experiences of their priority learners, the teachers know that collectively a transformation in teacher pedagogy will have an impact on all students within
the class.”

Daniel believes the coaching has had a positive impact on a wide range of data indicators across the school, with attendance rates positively shifting by over five per cent. Engagement data from the NZCER Me and My School survey shows an observable improvement in classroom engagement, personal wellbeing and pride in the school.

“Students are also staying at school longer and we’ve seen an increase from 73 per cent to almost 80 per cent of students leaving school with NCEA Level 2 or better. This is a positive outcome of the more relational approach we have taken,” says Daniel.

It hasn’t been all plain sailing, however. The challenge the schools face is making sure there’s enough time taken to develop teacher capability and have the deep conversations following lesson observations.

What the teachers say about Impact Coaching

“With the knowledge gained through the coaching process, I reflected on my teaching actions and what I needed to take responsibility for, rather than asking the child to change to meet my teaching style.”
Melissa Campbell, Nayland Primary teacher.

“As a result of being involved in coaching I now have a much deeper understanding of the role that teacher actions and interactions have on student learning.” Ryan Canning, Nayland Primary deputy principal.

“It’s helped me to be more co-constructive with my students. I provide more time for them to share what they want to learn and how they want to learn it. We co-construct learning opportunities and assessment criteria.
It’s brought home to me that I thought I was doing a good teaching job until I looked at my student voice. It made me change the way I delivered those and now I co-construct and check clarity with my students.” 
Sarah Thomas, Birchwood Primary teacher.

“I’ve changed everyday actions I take to improve learning. Before Impact Coaching, I often let chances to give feedback, feedforward or co-construction pass by. Now I deliberately create and seek out the chances for these interactions to occur and the result is students who are clearer about what they are learning and how they’re progressing.”
Isaac Taylor, Enner Glynn Primary teacher.

“The success of the programme can be significantly attributed to the lead team of impact coaches … they build collective capacity momentum that not only supports each other but keeps driving the learning within and across the schools within this kahui.”  Laurayne Tafa, lead impact coach.

So what does an impact coach do?

  • Observes lessons.
  • Provides quality feedback driven through a model that ensures best practice is the focus for both the observer and the person being observed.
  • Plans and leads co-construction meetings (group coaching sessions based around groups of learners where best practice strategies and pedagogical problem-solving strategies are shared). The outcome of this process is to ensure more consistency of effective interactions and teaching and learning strategies for the learner.
  • Mentors and supports other coaches within and across schools.
  • Analyses data to inform the focus of professional learning across the school, then leads this process and at the same time builds their professional development capability.
  • Identifies and supports effective subject-specific teaching and learning strategies (specific to Nayland College). 

What the students say about Impact Coaching (via anonymous student voice survey):

“Teachers actually want to know, so they ask us and we get to learn what we want and get to organise ourselves now.”

“We know the teachers that really care about us and our learning – they don’t give up on us and talk to us respectfully.”

“Teachers make learning fun now and break it into smaller chunks so they know we are getting it.  The way we learnt reading and writing was so long and felt like we were getting nowhere.”


Relationship-based teaching contributed to increase in Māori Achievement.

At Nayland College roll-based statistics for Year 12 Māori students gaining NCEA Level 2 showed an increase from 56.7 percent achievement in 2014 to 90 percent 
in 2017. 

BY Education Gazette editors
Education Gazette | Tukutuku Kōrero,

Posted: 9:42 am, 26 November 2018

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