Monday, November 13, 2017

COACHING - “A Way of Being”

(This post is one of several that were collated into #EdBookNZ for 2017.)

When we think about coaching, most of us think of coaching in the context of sports and fitness coaching to life and business coaching.
By definition, a sports coach is ‘ a coach is a person involved in the direction, instruction and training of the operations of a sports team or of individual sportspeople. A coach may also be a teacher.’ Coach (sport). (2017
In a School Coaching model teachers who coach other teachers are visible. The teacher coach listens and questions and then listens some more which leads to further questioning in order to build awareness. This process allows and leads the teacher coachee to identify a goal or way forward.

IMG_1352.JPG“Leadership Coaching is a dialogue in which the coach and the coachee collaborate to unlock the coachee’s potential and maximize performance.
Coaching is a relationship that helps coachees to learn and enhances their professional effectiveness and on-the-job performance, ensuring accountability and support for
managing workplace issues, reaching goals and sustaining development.
… and also it is about transforming good intentions into great results.”
                                                                 (Growth Coaching International)       

Coaching is NOT therapy, training, mentoring (is a relationship between expert and novice involving the giving of advice) or consulting.
During my two days of training with Bernard Fitzgibbon, a certified GROWTH Coach, I walked away with an understanding of what coaching is and the benefits of choosing to use a ‘Coaching Approach’ in my Leadership. I learnt to use the GROWTH coaching process to structure coaching conversations and use key coaching skills to develop the coaching “way of being”.

My Journey
I have to admit that when I was initially asked if I was interested in undertaking a two day course around coaching I felt skeptical about how this could help me in my leadership. I believed that I was already using several strategies when having learning conversations and prided myself on already growing the teachers that I work with. However after the two days of sessions I identified the benefits of choosing to use a GROWTH Coaching approach.
As the year unfolded I heard myself using terminology learnt during the sessions and new ways of questioning which I have identified contributes to building a coaching culture.
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A collective and shared responsibility is required in order to build a coaching culture that maximises the potential of all.
Culture is about the way we do things at our school. This is not something that just happens but is created from the top down.
“Building a coaching culture is about embedding a conversational culture that contributes to the learning environment focused on constant improvement, where everyone feels confident and motivated in their roles.”

Our thoughts behind using Coaching at our school was to produce greater clarity, confidence and competence around our practice.
“Increased confidence and receptiveness to new ideas and growth bring with them a natural ownership of responsibility for self-development, for the necessity to effect change.” (Robertson, 2009: 44)

Coaching relies highly on a trust and honesty model, building a relationship, collaboration and open communication. Anyone who is involved in coaching is responsible for supporting and developing others. As a result there is a shift in your learning. The focus is CHANGE.

The GROWTH Coaching Model
This framework focuses on questions on key steps that will move the person being coached, the coachee, from where they are to where they want to be.


  • Setting goals (ISMART) - reviewing performance (both own and children’s).
  • Acquire the skills to select and use the appropriate technology and resources to support and enhance their learning.
  • Becomes a self-directed, expert learner who monitors progress and reflects on learning.
  • An effective form of professional development.
  • Helps with dealing with issues and concerns.
  • Provides perspectives and feedback on practice.

Everyone has a different approach and suits different questions to suit different registers.

How do I know if coaching has had any effect?

Our staff fill in a ‘Coaching Journal’ which they use to document their discussions with their coaches and reflect on the session.
A survey was filled in Term 1/2 and then again in Term 4 focussing on the 8 Key Coaching Skills checklist. From this I was able to compare and analyse data from the beginning of the year to the end.

The challenges of coaching
Time is a big factor when it comes to coaching. Teachers can perceive coaching sessions as another meeting, therefore the leadership team needs to be mindful about building this time in. We value the importance of coaching and how it plays an important part in what we do. Regular sessions were scheduled in on a three weekly cycle as part of our Staff Meetings.

Sometimes you might come across colleagues who are unwilling for help. This could be an opportunity for you to work your magic and use your coaching skills. Often colleagues don’t know what they don’t know. Or is it plain out pride?

Overcoming barriers
Coaching starts by establishing a relationship of trust and where strengths and weaknesses are discussed. Conversations might include mutual help.
Coaching can happen anywhere and at anytime.
Instead of focussing on what is wrong and what needs fixing, the coach focuses on what is going well and working on these strengths.
Often I do not realise I am coaching. How you coach and how effective you are comes down to the focus of your questions.
“The greatest challenge to any thinker is stating the problem in a way that will allow a solution.” Bertrand Russell (1872-1970)
As a school leader I wonder if Coaching should be explored and built in by schools as part of professional learning. I can see the difference that GROWTH Coaching has made in the conversations between our staff and the shifts in their practice.


Bertrand Russell. (n.d.). Retrieved October 22, 2017, from

Coach (sport). (2017, October 10). Retrieved October 22, 2017, from

Growth Coaching International. (n.d.). The Growth Coaching Approach. Retrieved October 22, 2017, from

O Sullivan, G. (n.d.). Instructional Leadership and a Coaching Approach. Retrieved October 22, 2017, from

Robertson, J. (2009). Coaching educational leadership: building leadership capacity through partnership. London: SAGE.