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Magazine Issue 68: What is Coaching?
February 2016

This month: Thoughts about What is Coaching?

Article: Coaching
New Resources
Additional Resources

This Month's Article:

What is Coaching?

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What is Coaching? An Article that once and for all might define what coaching could be. Sometimes.

This is a Free Sample Resource

Categories: Article, Professional Development, Educators

Tags: Coaching Mentoring Integrative Coach Mentor
Coaching or Mentoring?

When I present coaching workshops there's usually, quite early on, a question (challenge) from the audience: Delegate A: "...but that's not coaching is it? What I think it is, is...". At coffee, someone else will come up to me and say, (Delegate B) "That's interesting what you said about coaching. What kind of situations do you think best suit a coaching approach?" A and B have answered their own question/challenge. A was mentoring; B coaching. (Come on reader C, come back to me on this paragraph. Is it correct?).

Is it coaching? Is it mentoring? Is it something else? Does it matter what we call it? Maybe. But it's more important that everyone involved in coaching/mentoring/something else has a shared understanding of what's going on. And here's a way to do that :

Defining Professional Support

When us professionals meet up with the purpose of improving what we do - either as a remedial or developmental activity - we need to ask four questions:

1. What do we want to achieve? (focus)
2. Who is involved and how? (roles)
3. How will the work take place? (process)
4. What context will we work in? (environment)

Opinion differs about the two biggies of Coaching and Mentoring but I'll offer here my experience of what I actually see on the ground, day to day:

 

What do we want to achieve?

Who is involved and how?

How will the work take place?

What context will we work in?

Coaching

Sustainable, coachee-led development which, over the long term, causes greater, permanent professional competence.

Trained accredited coaches; People who have attended short term coaching training; Professionals calling themselves coaches with no formal training; Middle leaders and experiences teachers.

 

Often, due to lack of clarity and agreed objectives coaching and mentoring are used interchangeably with little distinction between the two.

The need for swift, remedial action, often driven by external factors such as inspection and new initiatives means that interventions can be hasty and ineffective. But not always.

Anything from ad hoc arrangements to fully commissioned, contracted, resourced, budgeted, evaluated programmes, usually focused generally on teaching and learning and leadership

Mentoring

Fix a problem quickly; Support people in a new organisation and/or a new role by offering ideas, demonstrations and resources.

Trained mentors, Senior leaders, Experienced teachers; Colleagues from similar organisations/schools.

External interventions arranged by local authorities and usually focused on core curriculum areas, leadership and latest national initiatives; Internal support for NQTs and those who have lost their way.

 

The picture is not ideal. It won't be. The world can be messy, disorganised and less than effective. But where coaching and mentoring work well, the four questions above have been clearly answered and everyone has been involved in answering them.

A Balance to be Struck

My work as a coach is integrative: I don't hold to any particular coaching/mentoring model or technique, but learn about as many methods as I can, so I can best serve my coachees. But in summary: coaching is asking and nudging; mentoring is suggesting and showing. Both have their place but I always ask a new coachee what might work best for them. Try these questions as you begin your work with a new coachee/mentee:

  • What's your understanding of coaching and mentoring?
  • What would you like to work on?
  • How would you like to work together?

Starting like this marks you out as a coach and your coachee as someone who has the potential to think and grow under their own steam. And these questions can be very challenging for someone who has only ever been mentored. You are asking them to set their own agenda not sign up to yours.

Summary

The definitions of coaching and mentoring are elusive and debatable. Far better to forget the label and focus on the activity and its purpose. Consider: Focus, Roles, Process and Environment and involve everyone in the discussion. Then ask Delegate D what they think about it.


New Resources:

Graffiti Wall Thinking

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Graffiti Wall Thinking A Thinking Skills Tool for collecting quantity to raise quality. Involves the whole class.

Categories: Thinking Tool, Collaborative Thinking, Any Subject, All Ages

Tags: Writing Collaboration G&T MAT MAGT
Teacher Premium Resource: Login or Upgrade to Teacher Premium to access this resource.

Graffiti Wall Thinking PowerPoint

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Graffiti Wall Thinking PowerPoint A Thinking Tool Template in Powerpoint for Graffiti Wall Thinking. Includes slides to edit and 9 examples.

Categories: Thinking Tool, Collaborative Thinking, Any Subject, All Ages

Tags: Collaboration MAGT G&T MAT
Teacher Premium Resource: Login or Upgrade to Teacher Premium to access this resource.

Writing Think Sheet - Sentences

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Writing Think Sheet - Sentences A Think Sheet challenging pupils to create sentences prompted by combinations of images.

Categories: Think Sheet, Thinking Skills, English, Junior

Tags: Literacy Writing Mastery
Teacher Premium Resource: Login or Upgrade to Teacher Premium to access this resource.

Additional Resources:

Thinking Classroom Archive:

Using Video for Professional Development

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Using Video for Professional Development An Article that addresses some of the issues around using video for continuing professional development.

A strong, positive self-image is the best possible preparation for success.
Joyce Brothers

Acting is a form of confession.
Tallulah Bankhead 
 
What is Video CPD? Why do it and what are the rules? 

This is a Free Sample Resource

Find out more
Categories: Article, Professional Development, Educators, Media

Tags: Real Time Coaching CPD Video Trust

Professional Learning

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Professional Learning An Article suggesting we need an enhanced approach to CPD - one we've already been offering to our pupils for many years.

He who learns but does not think, is lost! He who thinks but does not learn is in great danger. Confucius

This is a Free Sample Resource

Find out more
Categories: Article, Professional Development, Other Subject, Educators

Tags: CPD Personalised Learning Learning Styles

Spiral Thinking

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Spiral Thinking A collaborative Thinking Skills Tool helping pupils to make and extend connections between ideas and objects.

Categories: Thinking Tool, Collaborative Thinking, Thinking Skills, Any Subject, Junior

Tags: Collaboration
Teacher Premium Resource: Login or Upgrade to Teacher Premium to access this resource.

Literacy Think Sheet - Grammar

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Literacy Think Sheet - Grammar A Think Sheet offering a more creative twist on KS2 Grammar.

This is a Free Sample Resource

Find out more or Download now:
Categories: Think Sheet, Thinking Skills, English, Junior

Tags: Grammar Assessment

 

Literacy Think Sheet - Grammar 2

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Literacy Think Sheet - Grammar 2 A Think Sheet offering alternative ways to engage pupils with basic grammar concepts.

Categories: Think Sheet, Thinking Skills, English, Junior, Secondary

Tags: Literacy Grammar
Teacher Premium Resource: Login or Upgrade to Teacher Premium to access this resource.


Books:

Excellence in Coaching
by Jonathan Passmore

Excellence in Coaching <br>by Jonathan Passmore An industry standard with contributions from experts in the field. Includes chapters on Coaching Approaches, Coaching Culture, Measuring Impact, Issues & Ethics and Supervision.

I used this as a core text while studying for my ILM executive coaching qualification last year. It gives a broad and solid base for understanding what coaching is and for contemplating the challenges you might face as either a freelance coach or as one working within/for an organisation.

Available from Amazon

Opens in a New Window
Categories: Suggested Books, Professional Development

Tags: Coaching

Focus on Teaching: Using Video for High-Impact Instruction
by Jim Knight

Focus on Teaching: Using Video for High-Impact Instruction<br>by Jim Knight I've been greatly inspired by this book in my video coaching work. It's not the in-ear kind (I'll be writing that one before long) but more about the nitty-gritty of using video clips of your practice to accelerate professional growth. Jim's book is immensely practical but also respectful and encouraging: he fully acknowledges the risks and reward of using video and shows us how to establish trust, confidentiality and how to maximise impact.

Available from Amazon

Opens in a New Window
Categories: Suggested Books, Professional Development

Tags: Coaching

Next month we think about... Motivation