Learning to Fly: Piloting High Leverage Teaching Practices

Learning to Fly: Piloting High Leverage Teaching Practices

Our mission here at TELLAL has always been focused on how to expand our capacity to train and develop the very best teachers and school leaders so that collectively we can continue to raise the standard of education in the UAE and beyond.  With that goal in mind, we are constantly striving to discover and adopt new methodologies for learning and skills development that can benefit our trainees and their careers.  We have been particularly focused on techniques that prioritise the empowerment of participants and facilitate their development in a more organic, and more lasting, way.  That is why we are particularly excited about the initial launch of a new programme that brings to life the high leverage teaching practices that reflect the basic fundamentals of teaching.

On Sunday 19th May, we launched our pilot programme version of high leverage teaching practices that will see seven schools, from the UAE and Egypt, participate in two key modules as we evaluate their progress before a full, phased launch in 2020.  The notion of high leverage teaching practises is relatively new to the region and is designed to foster fundamental capabilities critical to enhanced teaching. Able to be used across all subject areas and grade levels, these high leverage practices will not only advance teacher skills, they will transform the way in which teachers support students’ social and emotional development.  Our programme, which will incorporate eight themes, is based on the 19 high leverage teaching practices that cover crucial areas such as communication, diversity, interpretation, behaviour, assessment and relationship building. 

The pilot programme

Nearly 200 in-service practicing teachers will take part in our initial pilot programme as trainees and mentors.  They will be undertaking two modules at the outset, each with four specific competencies.  Since the modules have been built to support teaching through the instructional coaching model, each competency will have an online and video learning part and then a face-to-face mentor part in order to foster granular micro skills that are essential for advanced teaching performance.  Participants will identify a mentor to support and observe them through the module. This ‘joint practice development’ has much more reciprocity and is therefore more beneficial to both coach and participant.  The flexible timeframe offered by the programme will allow participants to take time to embed the skills into their classroom practice and reflect on the impact on student learning.  The two modules are:

HLTP 1: Student Thinking


  • Facilitating a group discussion
  • Modelling content practices and strategies
  • Eliciting, interpreting and diagnosing student thinking
  • Enhancing student thinking through metacognition


HLTP2: Meeting Students Needs


  • Leveraging student backgrounds as a resource for teaching
  • Teaching differentiated and inclusive lessons
  • Providing responsive feedback
  • Adjusting instruction to respond to student needs

The pilot modules, and the remaining modules, are all designed to develop pathways to teacher improvement in a safe, engaging manner devoid of judgement; and in a way that will lead to a more organic adoption of the practices into their teaching methodologies.  The aim of high leverage teaching practices is that they become a natural part of a teacher’s professional practice and can be adapted to meet the needs of their specific environment and student body. 

Our initial work will be done with the mentors, as we train them how to use the resources provided and then examine how they use it in the pilot module delivery.  The training materials and resources are a mandate for the mentors to use.  Our evaluation of how they use it will help us, and them, further determine the best practices and nuances that might need to be adopted in the full programme.  This is an evolving concept, without rigid boundaries, which greatly enhances its effectiveness and allows us to integrate the differences that occur in teaching within this region. 

The modules that will make up our high leverage teaching practices programme are based around Pam Grossman’s model for andragogically focused learning that produces the best results.  As Professor of Education at the University of Pennsylvania, Pam Grossman has spent years researching and studying the most effectively methodologies for teaching, training and learning.  We have incorporated her findings into the four elements of our programme:

Observe – absorb the representations of the practices

Comprehend – understand the skills and strategies through deconstruction of practice

Practice and Reflect – undertake an approximation of the practices through trial and error

All of which eventually leads to:

Results – the enactment of practices; which will occur when the practices have been fully imbedded into their professional practice.

The programme is an exciting evolution in the TELLAL offering and one that will no doubt provide a much-needed training resource to teachers who wish to expand their skills and grow their careers; as well as enhance their students’ experience and engagement.  We look forward to sharing the progress of the pilot programme with you and all of the news associated with the full launch in 2020.  If you would like to find out more about the programme you can contact Sheryl Rogers at sheryl.rogers@tellalinstitute.com.  

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