Successfully embedding a coaching culture takes preparation and skill. Julie Keyes, Lead Coach and Founder at The Educational Coach, examines the practices needed to ensure success at every turn.
In the 21st century, people don’t want to be managed; they expect to be coached.
The all-important question, then, is how do you go about it? Implementing a strategy to embed a coaching culture within your school takes time, enthusiasm and – most importantly – a whole school approach. But once done right, the transformative effects can be felt school-wide.
A key factor in the rollout of an effective coaching culture is the foundation a school creates on which to build a coaching structure. These foundations rely on the preparation of staff before the introduction of an external coaching team. The readiness of the schooling staff is often assumed by the mere decision to implement change. But the intricacies surrounding the term ‘coaching culture’ – and the elements needed to introduce this to a school – are all too often overlooked.
Before we get to what coaching is, let’s take a look at what it isn’t.
Consultancy, mentoring, counselling and therapy are often thought of as similar and complementary services to coaching. In fact, coaching shares aspects with all of these. Private and confidential sessions are a requirement participants expect of these services. Counselling and therapy are participant-led, with a search for a change of perspective or thinking. This is a key component of coaching.
However, counselling and therapy are usually trauma-induced, with a focus on the past. This is outside the requirements of the role of a coach.
A consultant, on the other hand, will offer guidance and support, much like a mentor, but with expertise in a required field. Coaches, too, offer guidance, but we are not here to give advice.
Coaching is the process used to extract and encourage the use of unlocked potential to allow a person to perform at their best. Coaching focuses on the present. It’s not the job of a coach to provide answers but rather to allow the participant to discover the answers they already hold. A coach guides and facilitates to enable these discoveries, unlocking the potential for performance at a higher level.
At The Educational Coach, our accredited coaches have a wealth of experience in the education sector. While we are not here to make assumptions based on our teaching backgrounds, a coach who understands the logistics and technicalities of the educational world allows sessions to be as effective as possible, without the need for explanation or clarification.
The Institute of Coaching cites that over 70% of individuals who received coaching benefited from improved work performance, relationships and more effective communication skills.
With this statistic in mind, you can see why we advocate so strongly for coaching for all staff in educational establishments. From ECTs to executive heads, TAs to heads of year: coaching offers benefits across the board. Let’s look at how you can embed coaching in your school.
At The Educational Coach, we have our own coaching model that looks at the four stages needed to implement effective, lasting change through coaching. We call it The HELP Method.
The first part of the model is hook. This looks at the questions, Are you ready? Are you prepared for adjustments in your school? Are your staff hooked on to the idea of coaching as a beneficial tool?
Next, we have experience. We believe that to be a coach (the end goal of The HELP Method is to equip you with the coaching skills you’ll need to have better quality conversations with your staff and colleagues) you need to experience coaching for yourself. As a recipient of 1:1 coaching, you’ll receive your own individualised CPD – an invaluable tool in itself. But you’ll also have a gauge of what a good coaching role model should look like. When working through the later stages of The HELP Method, you can use this experience of coaching to develop empathy for the coachee, drawing on your understanding of what it feels like to be coached. This awareness will enrich your role of a coach when you’re back in your own school environment.
The third letter of the acronym stands for learn. This is where you undertake coach training. At this stage, you will have a growing understanding of the impact of coaching, and now is the time to equip you with the skills and tools needed to start embedding coaching conversations in your day-to-day relationships.
Last up, we have practice. This is by far and away the most important part. Like any skill acquisition, coaching requires repeated practice for you to become confident and competent. Facilitated practice is an even stronger way to ensure you are conducting conversations well and developing your skills completely as a coach.
As we mentioned earlier, the first step to successfully embedding a coaching culture is to consider the question, ‘Are we ready for coaching?’ We have a few exercises to try to help you determine this factor.
Raise the topic in an SLT meeting
If you’re considering the implementation of a coaching structure within your school, you’ll first need to gauge the reaction of others. Raising the topic in an SLT meeting provides the perfect environment for an open and honest discussion.
Form a working party
Creating a group to discuss the uses and benefits of coaching can provide the opportunity for an objective look at the needs and demands of the school and staffing body.
Measure the current climate
Complete our questionnaire to measure and assess the thoughts and attitudes of staff in relation to satisfaction, engagement and performance. It will evaluate the work environment and the current culture observed by members of the team.
Read up on coaching
Share and discuss articles about coaching in staff meetings and informal chats. Recent meta-analysis shows the real-world impact of coaching on student achievement. You can read more about this at The Educational Coach.
This 5-minute coaching exercise will evaluate the issues and impacts surrounding a current point of concern. So, think about this: what would you like to see/hear/feel a change in after the implementation of coaching in your school? You can find this resource – and more – on our website.