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Initiative for Learning Innovation and Teaching Excellence

Resources - Initiative for Learning Innovation and Teaching Excellence

Teaching Development

Instructional Coaching

What is Instructional Coaching?

Instructional Coaching involves a combination of expert consulting in teaching and learning (learning theories, effective teaching methods, and course/session design), and reflections on how nonverbal communication and emotions affect relationships and classroom dynamics.

Is this for all professors?

Yes. It is open to every faculty member at INSEAD – junior, mid-career, senior – teaching across all courses and programmes.

Who will be providing instructional coaching?

Europe campus: Annie Peshkam, Director of iLITE & Instructional Coach. Annie has a PhD in Learning Sciences and a Certificate in Coaching for Leadership and Professional Development.
Asia campus: Josephine Teo, Instructional Coach. She has an EdD, MBA, and is an accredited Professional Certified Coach with the International Coaching Federation.

How does this work?

This is the instructional coaching process: pre-brief - observation - debrief, observation - debrief, and so on.

If you wish to be observed, email Annie or Josephine with suggested times to “pre brief.” This is a meeting before a class observation to discuss your experiences thus far, and whether you have any areas you would like your coach to focus on. Your coach will then observe a session of your choice and take notes from the back of the classroom. You will meet with your coach soon after for a “debrief” coaching session. Observations and debriefs can reoccur through as many iterations as needed.

What will we talk about in a coaching session?

They offer three approaches to coaching: (1) concrete feedback about teaching methods and delivery based on your real-time work in the classroom; (2) deeper reflections to help you overcome any barriers or challenges with respect to teaching and classroom dynamics; or (3) conversations combining both technical feedback and reflective exploration. The course of the coaching sessions is up to you.

Will all discussions be confidential?

All coaching sessions are entirely confidential and they will in no way impact your institutional evaluation. They will not, under any circumstances, discuss any individual professor’s performance with any third party. This programme is solely for your benefit, and your teaching career growth.

Can I receive coaching outside of classroom observations?

Yes! Sometimes, the challenges that emerge during teaching development call on more in-depth exploration. Annie and Josephine are happy to provide a series of in-depth coaching sessions outside of direct observations. Please contact them for further information on the nature of these coaching sessions. In addition, Annie and Josephine provide coaching on general teaching concerns around a course (e.g. administrative issues, student management, norm setting), specific teaching challenges inside the classroom (e.g. dealing with a challenging student in class, reflections on past teaching experiences), course or session design, and interpretations of course evaluations.


Faculty Mentee: What to Expect

  • Refer to the Junior Faculty Teaching Development Plan
  • Seek out your teaching mentor when you need assistance with teaching
  • Meet with your teaching mentor and iLITE coach early in the academic year to discuss your development needs
  • Try to prepare a draft of the course (i.e. slides, teaching plans) at least one month before teaching begins
  • See the resources on the site that support course preparation and teaching
  • Regularly consult your teaching mentor as you observe others teach and prepare for the course
  • Make sure your mentor will be among the list of colleagues who will observe your sessions
  • Try to practice teaching in an amphitheatre at least once with your mentor, iLITE coach and other colleagues sitting in the audience

Faculty Mentor: What to Expect

  • Reach out to your teaching mentee when they join INSEAD to establish your presence and support
  • Create a positive and conducive environment for your mentee to grow, learn and excel at teaching
  • Meet with your teaching mentee and his/her iLITE coach early in the academic year to discuss your mentee’s targeted observations and development needs
  • Observe at least one of your mentee’s sessions and provide detailed and concrete feedback to improve his/her teaching delivery (see Observation Guide)
  • Meet regularly with your teaching mentee to discuss his/her progress and the ways in which he/she could improve and receive support moving forward
  • Follow up with your mentee on his/her progress during the first 16 months (or first two rounds of teaching)

Observation Guide

Junior Faculty Development Guide

Course Preparation

Backward Design

When thinking about your course, you likely grapple with the concepts and ideas that students need to learn and worry about not including enough content. This can lead to many iterations in design and teaching, until there is the "right" amount of materials, tasks, assignments, etc. "Backward design" is meant to help you think in reverse, more systematically, student learning becomes the focal point rather than the material and content. Starting with learning outcomes, the first step is to articulate why students should learn any of the material you wanted them to know. The second step is to choose purposefully how to track that learning. The third step is to choose the methods and tasks you and students will use, and the materials they need to meet the learning outcomes. This three-stage process helps you see the logic of your course design more clearly.

Learning Outcomes

Teaching Plan

How To

Prepare for Class

  • Visit the amphitheatre where you will teach
  • Familiarise yourself with the equipment: the lectern functions, audio, light switches, connector cables and so on
  • Test moving the screen and blackboards/white boards up and down
  • Test writing on the black and/or white boards, tablet
  • Write in block letters if your handwriting is difficult to read
  • Move the flipchart or white boards to optimal positions so all students can see them
  • Rehearse your session in the amphitheatre to get comfortable with moving around the space and using all the tools and equipment in real-time
  • Develop a simple routine that gets you focused and energised for the start of class

Manage Norms

  • Begin every session exactly on time
  • At the end of the first session describe the norm for timeliness and state how you will enforce it (e.g. you will hold up your hand and not allow a late student to walk into class; you expect students to turn away once they see a note on the door that states “Class is in session”)
  • Include other norms and expectations such as use of mobile devices during class, respect for diversity, assignments, etc.
  • Enforce the start time every session
  • If students arrive late, use the signal you described that suits your style 
  • Do not assign readings you will not directly address in class
  • Regularly cold call students about assigned reading material to signal that preparation for every class is essential
  • End every session on time or early (if you end late, give students back the additional minutes the following session by ending earlier)
  • Consistently enforce norms all throughout the course

Call on Students

Cold call = Call on students who don't have their hands raised
Warm call = Call on students with their hands raised

  • Ask for further information about students’ backgrounds before the course begins
  • Before each session, decide one or two students that would be valuable to call on whose background links with the material -- cold call on those students
  • Balance participation by gender, background and seating in the amphitheatre
  • Call on students who may not be paying attention to enforce expectations
  • Avoid calling on the same students each time
  • Interchange cold and warm calling
  • If you want to avoid cold calling, ask the whole group, “I’d like to hear from someone who hasn’t spoken yet,” and then look at those individuals to signal that you are inviting them to participate
  • Post a few questions or raise some discussions on the course website if you find that there is a subset of students who do not participate in class – they might be more willing to respond online
  • If you are concerned about a student’s participation, but feel unsure about cold calling them, check with them between classes. Many will appreciate it, and will even invite being called upon.
  • If a called student who was called upon proves to be unprepared, move on without embarrassing them, and without inadvertently endorsing lack of preparation with a casual “it’s OK”

Ask Questions

Flipped Classroom

What is a flipped classroom?

Flipped classroom “reverses” classroom lectures and outside-of-class application of concepts. The goal is for professors to record and upload a video (such as a 5-10 minute lecture on a key concept) for the students to watch before the session. During class, the professor has more time to check student comprehension and facilitate students building on the concept through in-depth discussion or applying the concept through various learning activities.

What are the pros?

  • Professors and students have more time for discussion, analysis, and application of ideas
  • Students can learn at their own pace (particularly for highly technical information)

What are the cons?

  • Like all assignments, there is no guarantee that all students will prepare for class
  • Professors need to put in effort preparing and recording the content 

Where can professors record videos?

Kaltura is the school’s main video recording and hosting platform. Each professor has an account to easily record videos in various formats (slides with voice-over, slides plus webcam, webcam only or voice only) and then share the link with their students. Professors also have the option of uploading existing recordings and sharing them from this platform.

Interactive Online Polling Tools

What is an interactive online polling tool?

Professors can use an interactive online polling tool to post a question and request students to respond immediately in class using their phones or tablets. Students’ responses show up in real-time and can be projected onto the screen at the front of the amphitheatre or flatroom.
Some of the free tools available include:

​Why would I use an interactive polling tool?

  • As an ice-breaker
  • To open a session and/or visualise students’ understanding of a new topic
  • Quick data collection for controversial opinions or decisions
  • Assess student learning

How do I use it?

  • Write clearly formulated, simple questions
  • Create only three to five questions

What are the pros?

  • Simple polling features are free for many of the tools
  • Easy to set up. Instructions are straight-forward to follow
  • Instantaneous results
  • Fun
  • Students just need a mobile device to interact
  • Input is anonymous to peers

What are the cons?

  • Limited number of questions when subscribing for free 
  • A good Wi-Fi connection is necessary to run a poll

Generate Inclusivity

Getting started: Dos and Don’ts for a More Inclusive Classroom


  • Find out who speaks in your class, and how often
    • Bring your assistant to count the frequency of students’ participation.
    • Note who speaks on your student seating chart immediately after teaching.
    • Review the gender distribution of voices in your class.
    • Do this more than once, with cases and lectures.
  • Encourage more voices to widen the distribution
    • Call on hands raised that are in your “blind spots..”
    • Cold call on students across gender, nationality and position in the amphi.
    • Warm call (email students ahead of time) students who appear initially reluctant to speak up and call on them next session.
    • If you are reluctant to cold call, warm yourself up and the silent students by cold calling about an “easy” question: open ended, free association, opinion-based or recognize company/brand/well-known person.
  • Represent women
    • Use he and she interchangeably.
    • Teach (and write) cases and use examples with at least 50% female protagonists.
    • Make sure you feature women as much as men in your “success stories.”
  • Push back on men (or women) who directly highlight women in unfavorable ways by saying in a neutral yet firm voice:
    • “You don’t really mean that, do you?” (Add a bit of humor.)
    • “Is everyone really on board with this viewpoint?” (Ask at least one person to explain with a counter example.)


  • Let men dismiss or dominate a conversation led by a woman. Here are some suggestions for what to say:
    • “Let’s allow [female student] to finish what she was saying.”
    • “Do you just ‘disagree’ or do you have an argument for it?”
    • “Oh, you just want to repeat what [female student] just said.” (Add a bit of humor.)
  • Portray women in unfavorable ways
    • Do feature men as much as women in your “failure stories.”
    • Don’t use examples that reinforce stereotypes about women (i.e., women chose family over careers; women have better “soft skills;” women care about beauty and culture more than profits and performance).
  • Highlight underrepresented groups in unfavorable ways
    • Don’t use examples that reinforce stereotypes of underrepresented groups (i.e., members of those groups do not work hard, are corrupt, do not lead thriving companies and/or create start-ups).
    • Do acknowledge “this is a common stereotype” when students voice them.
  • Allow students to get away with comments or “jokes” that reflect the above
    • Don’t laugh along with those comments or “jokes.”
    • Don’t add to the comment or “joke.”
    • Don’t ignore the comment or “joke.”
    • Do acknowledge “this is a common stereotype” when students voice them.
    • Without being too judgmental, you can say “one still hears that view, every now and then, but we are here to challenge these stereotypes…”
    • Or say, “I don’t think you meant this [name], but it might have sounded to some as if you are saying [state stereotype s/he used]. How else can we understand the situation?”

Online Teaching and Learning

Best Practices - Teaching Online with Zoom

Best Practices - Dual-Mode Teaching

iLITE Observations

Manage Student Resistance

by Annie Peshkam

You have prepared the course down to the very last detail. Syllabus. Teaching notes. Slides. Readings. Cases. Problem sets. You have rehearsed the flow several times before each session. Are you ready? Quite possibly not at all. Why not? Because it is difficult to anticipate the gamut of your students' responses, reactions, and behavioural norms, and group dynamics. Particularly if you have little or no experience with the audience you are about to teach.

The most challenging part of course preparation is anticipating and managing student resistance. Resistance that is negative (rather than positive challenges that enhance learning) and intended to distract.

Passive resistance is an overwhelming lack of enthusiasm for preparing and carrying out tasks in class. Whereas active resistance is confrontational, open and delivered with emotions, objections, and frustration. Even partial compliance - carrying out tasks half-heartedly - is a form of resistance.

Resistance might arise as a function of student relationships, claims to status, showing off to peers, displaying expertise, or group scepticism towards a specific subject. It might arise from fundamental issues with content and design.

But, there are indications that resistance is linked with teacher behaviour.

When professors signal distance through a lack of eye contact and a lack of proximity to students this communicates perceptions of unfriendliness and disinterest so resistance tends be displayed actively. However, when professors signal closeness through nonverbal behaviours such as forward body leans, purposeful gestures, and eye contact, they communicate perceptions of warmth, and friendliness, and resistance tends to be displayed passively (for a review, see Kearney & Plax, 1992).

My experiences with instructional coaching also show that professors who consistently maintain nonverbal behaviours that display closeness and likability have few episodes of active resistance in class.

If you have a hard day with classroom dynamics and find yourself brooding, ask yourself: what is this really about? List the moments (what you were teaching in the session) and the forms of student resistance (examples of active and passive) in your mind. When you cross reference the two, think about how you were presenting that information or interacting with students in moments that triggered resistance. Is there a pattern? Do the same exercise by thinking of moments where students showed interest, and genuinely participated.

Repeating this exercise a few times may help you uncover the underlying dynamics that trigger classroom disruptions so that you have a clear starting point for overcoming them.


Kearney, P., & Plax, T. G. (1992). Student resistance to control. In V. P. Richmond & J. C. McCroskey (Eds.), Power in the classroom: Communication, control, and concern (85-100). Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum.

The Seven Deadly Seens

by Annie Peshkam

All professors have very likely come across a tip sheet for "good" teaching from a blog, newsletter, teaching website, or an institutional handout. You don't need me to tell you that, quite decidedly, the chances of learning how to teach from a tip sheet are minimal. And they are reduced to almost none when they are not proffered from the hands of a colleague or coach after observing you teach.

Decontextualized teaching tips are almost useless because they are often too broad and too obvious.

The opposite of tips - pitfalls - might be equally broad but less obvious (because people are often unaware of falling prey to them) yet more valuable when coupled with suggested strategies to replace them.

Thus, here is a less banal and more applicable teaching tip sheet.

Here are the 7 Deadly Seens in MBA Classrooms:

1. Verbal Mismatcher

Your first slide with text is on the screen. The information you narrate from memory doesn’t match the words on the slide. What is your audience doing? A few students are reading your slide and not listening to a word you're saying. Others decide to listen to you, and then halfway through, tune you out to read the slide, and when they're done reading, decide to tune back again, maybe 30 seconds later. Research shows that the brain is not capable of attention-rich multitasking. Consequently, your audience is not cognitively capable of processing two streams of different information at the same time.

On your slide: (1) present as little written text as possible, (2) begin the sentence corresponding with that bullet by reading exactly what is written on the slide, (3) continue to orally elaborate, explain, or provide an example. Repeat. Your audience will literally experience a surge in sustained attention when you do so.

2. Tablet Centric

You are excited and geeking out. It’s the first day you are using a tablet to present your slides. Colleagues have told you that students appear to pay attention to the lecture and discussion when they have the space to take notes, fill in concepts, write formulas, or problem solve while you write on semi-blank slides on the tablet. You spend most of class standing behind the lectern, contentedly writing away with your stylus, reading from the tablet...

By all means geek out and use your tablet for what it affords, like co-constructing ideas or problem solving together. However, do not forget the humans in the room. They enjoyed the eye contact you were making before the tablet arrived. As soon as you are finished writing, step out from behind the machine, angle your body towards the audience, read from the drop-down screen, and regularly reach out to humankind.

3. Verbal Ticster

For me it was "and...and....and" during one of my first research presentation rehearsals several years ago. When my advisor picked up on it and requested that I do away with this tic, I simply replaced it with "" Verbal tics are incredibly difficult to get rid of. What are yours? The ones I have heard most are "um..." "err..." "well..." at the beginning of every other sentence. Let's stop this once and for all.

Tics are a state of mind. Rather than trying to remove your verbal tics, focus on speaking deliberately. That might require writing out exactly what you might say for each slide or each discussion segment, and then repeating or rehearsing those sentences over and over again. Practicing speaking slowly and intentionally can be a painstaking investment. But once you are tic-free, you will trigger fewer interruptions to your students' attention, and speed up their comprehension of complex ideas. After rehearsing, if you still find yourself with the urge to “um” and “ah”, pause; pausing to think about what to say next is a cover story for you, and the hallmark of a thoughtful speaker for the audience. You may even find an enhanced aura of credibility bestowed upon you.

4. Exhaustive Responder

You walk back to your office after a session worn out and annoyed that you ran out of time before getting through all of the material. An unexpected portion of class time was spent answering many student questions.

The deepest learning takes place when each student’s question is answered, we generally believe. In a community discussion, when you are standing in front of the room running a session, fielding question after question will have the opposite effect. Leading a case discussion, lecture, or analysis from the front of an amphitheatre does not afford in-depth learning for each individual student. These pedagogical methods are designed for whole-group learning; for reaching group learning outcomes. By all means, respond to questions that move the discussion or analysis forward, or clarify misunderstandings. However, with each question, think to yourself, "Does responding to this question deepen ideas for everyone, or will it overcomplicate the lesson, raising additional questions in other students' minds?" If the audience may be diverted, feel comfortable telling students that you want to move on, you will address that question later in the session, or you are willing to answer these questions offline or over coffee. Remember, you set the group learning outcome(s), you know best how to meet them.

5. Overenthusiastic Expert

You just reached a few research slides, a complex mathematical problem, or a specific set of ideas that are really exciting to talk about. Fantastic. Part of great teaching is transmitting your excitement for a subject. But, then, do you remember enthusiastically scribbling on the board or flipping through slides for more than 15 minutes and the audience starting to fade into a listless fog?

Next time you prepare for a session and can foresee feeling particularly inspired to speak about a topic, try to pre-empt losing your audience to a lengthy, passive matriculation. Rethink that session or section of the session. Design questions for the class that remind you to acknowledge the students’ presence (at the very least) and value their participation.

6. Overindulgent Informer

The adage “too much of a good thing” will ring true when you cram excessive information into 90 minutes. In fact, I’ve often been a first-hand witness to professors assigning “extra” reading, projecting “additional” information, handing out “further” material. Extraneous information that is not pedagogically sequenced into the session or course will lead to student resentment if unaddressed, and minimise rather than maximise learning.

Quite simply, if you will not use it to inform or support ideas in class, do not assign the reading. If you are not going to talk about it, do not put it up on a slide. What is relevant to you is not relevant to them. If you know there is a subset of interested students, create an “optional” reading list. Optional indicates readings that can deepen specific learning but it is beyond the scope of the course.

7. Defensive Disciplinarian

Few 30 year old students are willing to (re)live disciplinarian parenting. Assertive pushes seem to result in only stronger push back. For instance, cold calling on almost every student to “check” whether each person has prepared for a case will only lead to disruption and frustration in the classroom. Telling students off in a defensive tone of voice for showing up late, being absent, or using banned electronic devices can lead to potentially rude commentary or an equally defensive atmosphere. There are very few strong personalities who accomplish their goal and earn student cooperation using this method. They usually know who they are early on.

For the rest, strike a balance. Use a firm yet relaxed tone. Set expectations at the beginning of the course, and at the start of the first few sessions. Remind students that you are in a social contract together. As a professor, you invest a great deal of time and you are committed to students’ learning. In order for that learning to take place, you need their investment in return. If you will be cold calling, one option is to let students know your strategy up front. For instance, at the beginning of the course, notify students that for each case discussion you will ask three different students to open the case, and you may also cold call occasionally when you believe that a particular student would be suited to analysing a concept. Also, let students know that you understand it is difficult to show up on time. Acknowledge their busy lives, heavy workload, and job searches. But set a rule and stick to it. Tell them to please not come to class if they know in advance they will arrive late. Explain why it matters. If a student breaks this rule, stop the discussion, nicely and firmly ask him or her to leave, thank the student for cooperating, and say you look forward to his or her contributions in the next session.

Now that you are privy to the 7 Deadly Seens, and have read the strategies to overcome them, where can you go from here?

“Don't think about the white bear,” was a remark made by an experimenter to a confederate in a classic psychology experiment. Results revealed that making a concerted effort not to think about the white bear only led to a significant increase in thinking about it.

Read over each Deadly Seen. Recall moments when you may have fallen prey to any one of them. Based on the suggested strategies, imagine the action(s) that you could take that would replace those behaviours. Replay those actions in your mind. Close this box.

Good luck!