Practising coaching can boost teachers’ performance and students’ academic performance and personal development. However, to successfully integrate coaching into your school, you need a well-structured plan and plenty of support by the entire school community including but not limited to teaching staff, administration officers, parent support group, students, and your local school cluster.
FAQ on coaching for schools
What are some of the possible reasons for ineffective coaching (what to look out for), and what are some of the limitations of coaching?
Coaching can be a transformative tool, but it’s not always effective. Here are some reasons for ineffective coaching:
Lack of Trust: If the coachee does not trust the coach, they may not be open to feedback or be willing to be vulnerable, making the coaching process ineffective.
Poor Listening Skills: A coach who doesn’t actively listen to their coachee will miss crucial information, making their advice and strategies less relevant.
Lack of Expertise: If a coach doesn’t have sufficient knowledge in a particular area, their guidance may be misguided or generic.
One-size-fits-all Approach: Each individual is unique, and a coach who applies the same methods and techniques to everyone won’t be as effective as one who tailors their approach.
Lack of Goal Clarity: If the objectives of the coaching process are not clear, the sessions may lack direction.
However, rather than dwelling on these hindrances, we suggest following BRIEF coaching principles to enhance coaching effectiveness, drive positive change, and empower individuals to reach their full potential in the workplace.
Building a Coaching Relationship – Establishing a strong and trusting connection between the coach and the coachee is essential for effective coaching.
Reviewing What’s Important to the Employee – Understanding the coachee’s goals, values, and aspirations is fundamental to tailor coaching to their specific needs.
Inquiring into the Employee’s Strengths and Resources – Identifying and leveraging the coachee’s strengths and available resources empowers them to excel.
Expanding on Strategies and Small Steps – Developing actionable plans and breaking them down into manageable steps ensures progress and success.
Facilitating Progress to Ensure Sustainability – Continuously supporting and guiding the coachee to achieve sustainable improvements is a key aspect of successful coaching.
The 2023 ICF Global Coaching Study claims that coaching clients report a median ROI of 788%. While the benefits of coaching are widely acknowledged, it’s important to recognize the existence of certain limitations:
- Although everyone is coachable, not everyone is ready for coaching which gives rise to varying efficacy of coaching.
- Coaching can be time-intensive and may not be suitable in crisis situations which require immediate solutions, or when employees lack the skills or knowledge to perform a task.
- The line between managerial duties and coaching roles can become blurred. Team members might be wary of discussing certain issues if they believe it might negatively impact their standing within the team or organization.
- A leader’s primary duty is to meet organizational goals, which might sometimes conflict with individual. development goals. Balancing both can be challenging.
- Leaders, even if adept in their domain, might not be trained in coaching methodologies.
- The impact of coaching is subjective and not quantifiable.
How to differentiate coaching and mentoring methods and approaches. Or would they be similar. And should we employ the coaching methods, is there an element of “graduation” – where Coach deems or assess that coachee does not need further coaching?
Coaching and mentoring are becoming more prominent parts of leadership development because of the unique value these methods bring to the task, compared to leading with authority and fear. However, coaching is a different modality than mentoring, and as a new age leader, you often have to flip the switch between the two. Coaching is non-directive, guiding coachees to find their own solutions, while mentoring involves giving advice, making suggestions and role modelling. Employees who have mastered the necessary skills and knowledge for their position and wish to improve their performance-based indicators, such as productivity and time management, can benefit greatly from coaching. Mentoring is often focused on helping an individual get up to speed in their new role, but it can also provide insight into one’s career path.
There’s usually an element of “graduation” in coaching. Once the coachee achieves the set goals, demonstrates the needed improvements, or becomes more self-reliant in their role, the formal coaching sessions may reduce or conclude, or switch to a different goal.
There is also a trend in coaching called Ontological Coaching, which is a methodology that studies the “way of being” of an individual, team, or organization, to create “distinctions” or new lenses in that person’s worldview. What does this mean for coaches for others in schools and for self?
Ontological coaching is an approach that focuses on the way individuals construct their understanding of the world and how this construction affects their behavior. It helps individuals explore their beliefs, emotions, and perspectives to create lasting change. It is a holistic view of an individual’s state of being, encompassing their physical, emotional, linguistic, and relational aspects.
The logic behind ontological coaching in a coaching context is to facilitate self-awareness and transformation by addressing an individual’s way of being, which includes their language, emotions, and body. It emphasizes that shifts in one’s way of being can lead to more effective and sustainable changes in behavior and life outcomes.
Behavioral theories that share similarities with ontological coaching include cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) and humanistic psychology. CBT examines how thoughts influence behaviors, while humanistic psychology emphasizes personal growth and self-actualization.
Ontological coaching can relate to solution-focused coaching by complementing it. While solution-focused coaching primarily seeks solutions and goal achievement, ontological coaching explores the underlying beliefs and emotions that might hinder progress. Combining both approaches can offer a holistic and effective coaching experience, addressing immediate goals and long-term personal growth.
BestOfMe has coaches certified in both solution-focused and ontological coaching. You can read about one of our coaches, Michele Lum, an expert in this area.
Leader Coaches determine the coaching styles and techniques that best fit their leadership styles, personalities and purpose. However, the general sense is that coaching helps people regardless of tools, techniques and foundational theories. Ultimately, an effective Leader Coach has a repertoire of tools and techniques in their toolbox.
When it comes to coaching techniques and tools for schools and academic institutions, Solution-focused coaching stands out as an excellent choice. This approach, as advocated by various experts and educators, offers several advantages due to its adaptability to different contexts, action-oriented principles, and emphasis on strengths.
Managing officers who are pessimistic and remain so, how to really get them into the green zone? They don’t want to define an outcome.
Managing officers or employees who display a consistent pessimistic attitude can be challenging, especially when they resist defining outcomes or setting clear goals. Such attitudes can impact not only their performance but also the team’s morale. Here’s how to approach and possibly shift this mindset:
- When officers are pessimistic and not receptive to make things better yet, a leader’s role is to be a good listener by using active listening skills. Use the listen, select, build technique to give coachee a space to share his or her grievances and challenges. In cases where coachees do not have the answer, allow coachee some time to think about the answer and agree on a date and time to check in again.
- Another reason officers might be pessimistic is a lack of trust in leadership or the organization. By investing time in building a genuine, trusting relationship, you can create an environment where they feel safe to express concerns and be more open to feedback.
- It’s essential to know whether employes’ pessimism stems from personal issues, negative experiences from speaking up, fear of change, or other organizational factors.
- Acknowledge their feelings and concerns. Dismissing or minimizing their feelings can lead to further disengagement.
- Highlight and celebrate employee achievements no matter how small, to boost their confidence and gradually shift their focus from negative to positive aspects.
Can virtual/online coaching work well? (Eg: staff away for medical or hospitalisation leave because of depression/mental well-being concerns and doesn’t want to be back in school to meet up)
Yes, virtual/online coaching can work well, and in some cases, it might even be the preferred method for various reasons, including convenience, comfort, and the current global shift towards online platforms due to factors like the COVID-19 pandemic.
When a coachee is not present physically due to internal mental issues, the idea of the leader “showing up” is helpful for the coachee. Be mindful that it may take time to build trust and relationship before coachee is willing to open up and share. There may be coachable moments during those informal interactions. However, if the leader senses that there could be deeper issues, the leader should advise his/her officer to seek counselling or therapy help.
Mental well-being and wellness are important modern day topics that affect individuals, and that coaching does have its limitations in that the underpinning reason for a staff struggling with mental issues, may not be suitable especially when deeply rooted causes have been identified. In this case, therapy or counselling may be more appropriate. Hence, as a Leader Coach, it is also important to understand the merits of coaching, mentoring etc, and the limitations and to best “prescribe” or apply the mode of transaction/relation towards their staff before generalising that coaching can solve everything.
What is a Coaching Mindset as a premise for which coaching skills are layered upon.
Developing a coaching mindset is a gradual process. Grab every opportunity to be curious and leave your assumptions at the door. Being judgmental is the biggest impediment to developing people. Coming to terms that you (the leader coach) is not always right is one of the important mindset shifts from a directive leader to a leader coach. According to BestOfMe’s Advisor and MCC Coach Simon Lee, “Everyone is coachable but not everyone is ready for coaching”. A great leader will look out for coachable moments and allow the coaching mindset to seep in at any moment.
What are the behavioural theories that underpin the principles of coaching?
Coaching draws on various behavioral theories and models. Here are some notable ones:
Positive Psychology: Positive psychology in coaching focuses on enhancing well-being and strengths rather than fixing weaknesses. Coaches employing positive psychology help clients identify and leverage their strengths, cultivate optimism, and foster resilience.
Solution-Focused Brief Therapy (SFBT): SFBT is a time-limited therapeutic approach that aligns with coaching principles. Coaches using SFBT help clients set specific, achievable goals and explore solutions rather than dwelling on problems. Positive psychology has a broader scope, encompassing well-being, while SFBT is more specific and goal-oriented.
Cognitive Behavioral Theory: This theory emphasizes the role of thoughts, emotions, and behaviors. Coaches use CBT to help individuals identify and change unhelpful thought patterns, leading to improved behaviors and outcomes.
Natual Linguistic Programming: NLP is a psychological approach that focuses on the connection between language, neurological processes, and behavioral patterns. Coaches may choose to integrate NLP principles into their coaching approach based on the specific needs and preferences of their clients.
Self-Determination Theory (SDT): SDT focuses on intrinsic motivation and how it influences behavior. Coaches use SDT to support individuals in setting goals that align with their values, increasing motivation and commitment.
Locus of Control Theory: This theory explores individuals’ beliefs about whether they can control their outcomes. Coaches use it to help individuals understand their control over their actions and decisions, fostering empowerment.
Transactional Analysis (TA): TA examines interpersonal relationships and communication patterns. Coaches use TA to enhance self-awareness and improve communication skills.
Psychodynamic Theories: Coaches may incorporate psychodynamic principles to delve into unconscious patterns and past experiences that affect current behavior.
These theories and models provide a rich foundation for coaching, enabling coaches to tailor their approach to individual needs and goals.
While we have learnt the tools to coach, how do we create a culture in which staff are receptive and embrace coaching and take ownership to reflect and learn?
Creating a culture in which staff are receptive to coaching and are motivated to reflect and learn requires a multi-pronged approach. The end goal is to cultivate an environment where coaching is seen as a tool for growth rather than a form of criticism or remediation.
Firstly, the leadership team should genuinely believe in the value of coaching and model it themselves to signal its importance and benefits.
The school can also host workshops or sessions during staff retreats to educate staff about what coaching is and isn’t. Address misconceptions and showcase real-life success stories to increase receptiveness to coaching.
It’s also important to emphasize confidentiality for staff to know that the coaching space is a safe one where they can be honest and vulnerable without fear of repercussions.
Over time, incorporate coaching conversations into regular processes like performance reviews, so it becomes a natural part of professional development.
Creating a receptive coaching culture is a journey, not a destination. It requires continuous effort, adaptation based on feedback, and, most importantly, genuine belief in the value of coaching. Additionally, when the whole community is engaged in this endeavour, everyone’s possibilities are valued. Principals, teachers, school administrators, parents, and students should be part of the school’s endeavour to creating a coaching culture. Attend the BestOfMe talk on How to Create a Coaching Culture within schools for deeper insights, or read the case study of Tanglin’s Coaching Culture by Tanglin Trust School.
How does team coaching work in terms of the process (especially on how the coach can help team members understand their roles and provide support in the conversations)? How to integrate and use the different tools presented?
Team coaching is a collaborative effort that empowers team members to understand their roles, communicate effectively, and work cohesively towards shared objectives. It promotes a culture of continuous learning and improvement within the team. A team coach partners, listens, questions, creates awareness, checks in, goal sets, while allowing members to evoke thinking and gain clarity on the topic.
There are different team coaching models where they offer versatile approaches to address various team challenges, but their effectiveness depends on the specific context and needs of the team. These objectives encompass but are not limited to:
Conflict Resolution – Addressing and mitigating conflicts within the team to foster a harmonious working environment.
Adapting to Changes – Managing transformations in team structures and navigating new team dynamics effectively.
Team Alignment – Aligning the team with the vision and goals, often facilitated by a new team leader.
Goal Achievement – Ensuring the successful attainment of specific team objectives and milestones.
Enhanced Collaboration – Utilizing brainstorming exercises during team meetings to encourage collaboration and idea generation.
Innovation – Promoting the creation of innovative solutions within the team during meetings.
Strategic Planning – Engaging in strategic planning or visioning exercises to shape the team’s future direction.
Examples of Solution-focused team coaching models:
How can we use team coaching in the context of a a team coaching an individual team member?
Coaching a team is not about working with a group of individuals in a collective setting. It’s about viewing the team as a distinct entity with its own dynamics, strengths, challenges, and potential. The role of the coach is to help this entity realize its full potential in both performance and development.
The method used when a team coaches an individual team member is called the “Reflecting Team Practice”. The steps involved are:
Preparing – The team member who wishes to receive help (Presenter) comes to the meeting with a specific request for help with a practice issue.
Presenting – The presenter outlines the situation to the team. The team listens attentively and let the presenter finish.
Clarifying – The team asks questions to understand the situation more clearly. The team can go round asking “Have I tried X”….
Affirming – The team members tell the presenter what impresses each of them most about how he or she is handling the situation.
Reflecting – The team members take turns to go round and offer one item at a time of appropriate input.
Closing – When all the reflections have been made, sets him or herself a goal based on the reflections.
Additionally, the Team Coach can employ various coaching models to support a high-performing team in maintaining and enhancing breakthrough performance. Alternatively, they can utilize these models to coach an underperforming team, guiding them towards achieving predefined goals and realizing a preferred future. When coaching teams, whether high performing or underperforming, here are some key principles and steps to consider:
Apply a coaching model, e.g. GROW/OSKAR/AI model: The coaching model is a structured process that is geared toward achieving results while promoting team development and growth
Understand the Team’s Lifecycle: Familiarize yourself with models like Tuckman’s stages of group development (Forming, Storming, Norming, Performing, and Adjourning). Recognizing where a team is can guide the coaching approach.
Address Team Dynamics: Every team member brings unique strengths, challenges, and interpersonal styles. It’s crucial to understand and address the dynamics these create.
Ask Good Questions: Encourage solution-focused dialogue, where team members can share their best hopes, resourceful past, and brainstorm collaborative solutions.
Emphasize Collective Vision and Values: A cohesive team has a shared vision and values that guide their actions. Help the team define (or refine) these elements, ensuring everyone is aligned.
Whether coaching is used by principals to coach their teaching staff, or as a pedagogy in teaching to enhance student performance through reflective learning, it is important to conduct careful planning and gain robust collaboration from the entire school community.
Our quest for continuous improvement in education necessitates a data-driven approach, ensuring that the influence of coaching is not merely anecdotal but firmly grounded in evidence. By conscientiously tracking and assessing how transformations in teaching and leadership practices enhance student learning outcomes, we not only demonstrate the value of coaching but also pave the way for informed decision-making and more effective educational practices.
Published by BestOfMe Pte Ltd
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Josephine has been using the Solution Focused (SF) approach since 2013. She likes it because it’s simple, flexible, and natural. It lets coaches ask the right questions in a way that fits the person they’re talking to. Josephine believes SF helps people change from the inside, which she has experienced personally. Ai Chin agrees with her, finding SF more practical than other coaching methods.
If you’re someone who’s familiar with in-person coaching, but wondering if digital coaching could work for you, you’re not alone. Let’s take a closer look at what digital coaching is.
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