Carnegie Education

Re-imagining a positive direction for education through narratives and co-coaching

Can a focus on pandemic education narratives and the development of co-coaching help us to engage thoughtfully and open up dialogue about our future practices in education?    

Published on 26 Jan 2023
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This is one of the questions that we are grappling with in ‘RAPIDE’ a pandemic response Erasmus+ project led by Leeds Beckett University. The work is situated in the context (but reaching beyond) the impact of COVID-19 pandemic on education globally. The challenges that the project is addressing include an awareness of the professional dilemmas faced by educators, the necessity of working inter- and intra-professionally to address these challenges, and the opportunities that co-coaching can bring. The project thus has the following objectives:

  • an increase in educators’ ability and confidence to provide effective and inclusive digital learning opportunities
  • an increase in educators’ ability to manage change in their working practices
  • an increase in the ability of the wider community including parents, carers, other family members and other interested professionals to understand and support both educators and students in digital learning contexts

Pandemic education narratives

Within the project we have been interviewing teachers in the partner countries about their pandemic experiences and creating accessible ‘narratives’ from each contribution.  
An example of a narrative from a class teacher is as follows:

There were a lot of ups and downs during Covid and remote teaching, because there was so much pressure. Children were stuck at home, classes were done online but sometimes with irregular schedules and content, but teachers still somehow had to carry out usual assessments and be prepared for evaluations. 

First, I attended an eight-week course on well-being to make sure I can keep up with the pressure and take care of my well-being in school and outside of it.

Secondly, it was all very much about being open and talking to your colleagues was very much one part of that. You have to be open. You have to be, otherwise it is.

You have to be very open with how you feel, and what is going on.

I decided to work out a strategy with me participating actively in the matters of well-being and communicating about it especially when I saw some colleagues not adapting to the situation and the changes. And because of this they started to do more work and it created more problems with well-being, consequently. 

As we analysed the narratives we started to note that their common features included the realities, the responses, immediate and later reflections and re-imaginings of future education. These became themes we could then explore across the project, as exemplified in a previous CollectivED blogpost

From narratives to co-coaching

With narratives like this as a starting point we are also working on a model of learning conversations which we are framing as co-coaching and have started to test these out in a range of international settings.  

In co-coaching we encourage educators to be curious, creative and supportive. Through co-coaching educators are invited to explore their experiences, existing and emerging opportunities and feelings. Sharing narratives as the basis for co-coaching promotes authentic teacher voice, reflection and a sense of solidarity between educators for whom there is a familiarity in the accounts.  Finally we suggest that co-coaching supports critical thinking, developing new perspectives and decision making for actions. 


Developing co-coaching

In developing co-coaching we have generated a number of questions which we offer as a scaffold rather than a script.  We will be refining these and publishing them in the final project open access resources. Between them the questions return the co-coaching participants to the focus of realities, reponses, reflections and re-imaginings. They include questions such as: 

  • What did you notice?
  • How did you react at the time?
  • What might be the consequences of your response?
  • What new ideas are emerging?
  • How could this work? 

Finally, it is important to note that when engaging in co-coaching there are some principles to follow.  To start a co-coaching conversation you should create a safe space, encourage the sharing of stories, ask questions to support reflection and listen for understanding. It is essential to avoid making judgements, offering unwanted solutions, breaking confidentiality or acting as a therapist or counsellor.  Applying these principles will help you build a co-coaching relationship which is based on trust, allows partcipiants to be authentic, compassionate and open to learning. 


Project partners

The RAPIDE work is located within CollectivED The Centre for Coaching, Mentoring, Supervision and Professional Learning with colleagues from the Carnegie School of Education, Mhairi Beaton (project lead), Rachel Lofthouse, Meri Nasilyan and Diana Tremayne joining the international team members. Our project partners are from National Education Institute, Slovenia, Seminar für Ausbildung und Fortbildung der Lehrkräfte (Gymnasium), Germany, Fontys University of Applied Sciences, Netherlands, Universidade Aberta, Portugal, PLATO, University of Leiden, Netherlands, Katholiek Onderwijs Vlaanderen, Belgium, University of Aberdeen, UK and Eötvös Loránd University, Hungary.

Professor Rachel Lofthouse

Professor / Carnegie School Of Education

Rachel Lofthouse is Professor of Teacher Education in the Carnegie School of Education. She has a specific research interest in professional learning, exploring how teachers learn and how they can be supported to put that learning into practice.

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