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An introduction to Coaching and Mentoring

Coaching, mentoring and other forms of peer-network mechanisms are increasingly


being used to enhance professional development, embed changed practice and
encourage the transmission of teacher learning to pupil learning within classrooms.
This guide introduces some definitions and principles, explains effective arrangements for coaching
and mentoring and describes some necessary qualities of a coach or mentor.

What is meant by the terms ‘coaching’ and ‘mentoring’?


The terms are increasingly used interchangeably as coaching and mentoring activities are broadly
similar and both flourish when key conditions and skills are in evidence.
Mentoring is generally used to refer to a process by which a respected and competent individual
provides guidance and advice, in order to assist someone less experienced develop in their work.
Coaching refers to a more systematic process where one person takes another through an
experiential learning cycle, with the intention of unlocking the individual’s potential to maximize
their own performance.
This introductory guidance doesn’t elaborate any further about a distinction between coaching and
mentoring. There are numerous models and packages that are commercially available to support
schools wishing to adopt more precise measures, but this guidance provides a level of general
information to underpin the organisation of mutual support and learning within schools.

‘Coaching Nuggets’

“Coaching is not about learning the right way, but is about helping lead an individual
to find their best way.”
“Authentic coaching is the practice of emotional intelligent behaviour”
“Our performance equals our potential minus our internal interference, of which lack of self-
belief is the greatest. Coaching does not therefore seek to add anything but rather to
remove any internal obstacles to performance, learning and enjoyment.”
“Coaching is a means of helping people to uncover and bring out the best in themselves,
their pupils and the teams they work with”

Benefits of Coaching and Mentoring

To the school To the individual To the coach or mentor


• Assists in the transfer of • Reduces feelings of • Offers insights into current
teacher learning to pupil isolation practice
learning • Increases confidence and • Increases reflectiveness
• Helps embed change self-esteem • Benefits their own
• Gives individuals greater • Provides an accelerated professional development
ownership of their rate of learning • Improves problem analysis
development • Improves personal skills • Raises awareness of
• Promotes an atmosphere of • Improves problem analysis different approaches
mutual trust and respect • Reduces frustration • Improves self-esteem
• Improves organisational • Creates an opportunity to
communication reflect on work roles and
• Strengthens culture and career
ethos • Creates friendship
Coaching and Mentoring becomes more effective when the school:

1. Develops a climate of collaboration in which professional learning can flourish and in which
individuals feel comfortable to express their desire to change and improve.
2. Identifies professional learning needs that really do need to be met in order to raise standards
and attainment.
3. Develops processes and procedures to support the coaching and mentoring that are based
upon best practice.
4. Redefines people’s work roles so that the coaching/mentoring function is integrated and
receives sufficient time and priority. This is especially significant in the context of school
change within the Remodelling agenda.
5. Selects coaches and mentors who possess personal and professional qualities of the highest
order (see next page) and provides ongoing training and development.
6. Ensures that the individuals involved appreciate the responsibility they have for each other’s
professional development and places the control of this development with the individual.
7. Defines the scope of the coaching relationship and where it fits within broader school
development.
8. Evaluates the impact of the coaching work at both individual and organizational level.

EFFECTIVE COACHING IS ESTABLISHED ON THE KEY PRINCIPLES OF

AWARENESS Once an individual becomes more aware of themselves and


others, then it becomes easier to manage and change actions.
RESPONSIBILITY Change will only be really effective when an individual can
take ownership for their development.

THE KEY SKILLS OF EFFECTIVE COACHING ARE

EFFECTIVE QUESTIONING Questions that arouse curiosity, stimulate interest,


clarify concepts, emphasize key points, enhance problem-solving ability, encourage
thinking at higher cognitive levels or motivate the search for new information

ACTIVE LISTENING A way of listening that focuses entirely on what the other
person is saying and confirms understanding of both the content of the message and
the emotions and feelings underlying the message to ensure that understanding is
accurate.

THE STEPS OF EFFECTIVE COACHING INCLUDE

SETTING A GOAL What do you want?


GRASPING THE REALITY What is happening now?
CONSIDERING OPTIONS What could you do?
MAKING CHOICES What will you do?
The coaching/mentoring relationship
Partners should:
Qualities of a coach/mentor
1. Get on well together to create a compatible working
relationship A more effective coach will be:

2. Respect each other and work as equals • Emotionally intelligent


3. Be in agreement about the purpose of the relationship • A good listener
• Organised, patient and
4. Be committed to the relationship and be genuinely
understanding
interested in each other’s progress
• Enthusiastically persuasive
5. Have realistic expectations about results • Good at their job
6. Not blame or criticize, balancing the celebration of success • Down to earth and realistic
with the permission to fail • Prepared to do things urgently
• Able to offer a different
7. Speak honestly, giving constructive and purposeful feedback
perspective
8. Approach each another easily and create time and attention • Open to other points of view
for each other • Realistic
9. Actively question and listen • Relaxed and laid back
• Approachable
10. Be willing to debate, argue and discuss

Studies show people often work between 10% and 70% of their real
potential with the average at just 40%. What is it costing schools to have
staff working below potential? Coaching is a great way to unlock a person's
potential to maximize their own performance. Winston Churchill said, "I am
always ready to learn. I am not always ready to be taught." Coaching is
about helping people to learn.
A coaching and mentoring event at NCSL in 2003 identified the common and distinctive elements
of coaching (specialist and peer/colleague) and mentoring behaviours. It is presented here to help
schools better understand the contribution that each can make to CPD activity in school.

Peer coaching will have a positive impact on teaching and learning by:

• Structuring time for colleagues to discuss • Sharing good practice


practice • Celebrating success
• Mirroring successes • Encouraging experimentation and
• Giving a chance to discuss performance ‘tweaking’
• Trying out ‘new’ things • Avoiding ‘threatening’ performance
• Moving people forward together management
• Feeding back on performance • Encouraging efficient planning
• Allowing time to reflect • Bouncing ideas and offering support
• Evaluating achievement • Encouraging a dialogue about teaching
• Encouraging collaboration • Structuring resources, boosting self-
• Encouraging professional dialogue esteem
• Providing ‘another perspective’ • Making people feel heard
• Formalizing informal networks • ‘Allowing’ insecurities
• Building self-confidence • Supporting teachers to develop their
• Encouraging regular self-review subject
• Allowing more staff to show leadership • Motivating teachers
• Recognizing skills and experience • Reducing wasted words
• Connecting learning across the curriculum • Observing without ‘threat’
• Sharing professional growth • Building school CPD capacity
• Focusing on specific skills • Building school relationships
• Giving direct feedback