The idea and concept of coaching has always been, to my mind, something I perceived as happening on a football pitch or in a gymnasium, not sitting down and having a conversation, let alone talking on the phone! My first direct experience of coaching came when I was professionally coached a couple of years ago. I found the whole experience enlightening, allowing me to draw upon my inner strengths to solve problems, move forward with my career and see things from a different perspective. That was when I realised the power of coaching.
My next encounter with coaching was another professional coaching programme which came as part of the Teaching Leaders course. Again, with a fantastic coach I could draw upon my strengths and solve a range of issues, feeling empowered, in control and much more confident. I would certainly urge anyone who has coaching available to them to grab it with both hands and an open mind, and see where it could take you next in both your personal life and in your career.
4 ways coaching has influenced my teaching:
1. The way I interact with staff: Teaching is not a job, it is a lifestyle and being so incredibly busy all the time, when another member of staff approaches you with an issue it is all too easy to give them a quick fix answer. Tick! Another thing crossed off the ‘to do’ list. Not anymore! Using coaching to help draw out the answer from the individual leaves you both much more fulfilled and confident in yourself.
2. The way I interact with children: As with number one, it is all too tempting to see a child struggling with a question, to go over and ‘guide’ them to the answer – less painful for everyone! Having a coaching discussion, for sometimes as briefly as two minutes, can empower children, providing them with the tools to solve the problem, rather than tell them the answer. It also fits in quite nicely with mastery skills by developing their thinking further, formulating answers through exploration and higher level thinking.
3. Developing my own CPD: Coaching has enabled me to develop a growth mindset – an area which I feel passionate about – both personally and professionally. The inspiration that I gained from coaching lead to my applying and being successful in studying for my Masters, something I have always wanted to do since graduating in 2011, but felt was out of reach. Having the mindset to believe that I could, through coaching, gave me the confidence to take the plunge. I love learning and I think it is important to continue developing, especially as a teacher, to grow as a person as well as a professional. If you stop learning, so do the children. Simple.
4. Promotes reflective practice: As teachers, we have always been taught to be reflective in our work. Initially I thought that meant thinking ‘hmm yeah that lesson went well… or not so well… what could I have done differently?’ After having a few sessions of coaching, it made me reflect on the bigger things, such as classroom environment, feedback, questioning, leadership styles and many others which have a direct impact on the children, and to be honest, that is all we want: to benefit the children. This sparked an interest in wider reading around this subject, including books on ‘grit’ and developing a coaching ethos within schools.
As you can see, coaching has had a huge impact on the way I think, feel and teach. Having learnt through Teaching Leaders’ various coaching models and had the opportunity to put them into practice, this is something that I intend to develop in the future and I would encourage others to do so if given the chance.