There has been a number of improvements and enhancement to the system. However, these were a result of either individual efforts or the effort of a small community within the education system. Thus, the impact is exclusive. This, again, is not only a local concern but an issue faced by many schools internationally.
One way to tackle this issue is through implementing coaching in the school system. The methodology, techniques, and tools used within coaching equip the students, teachers, and the leadership team to master their different roles within the learning process. Coaching is a way to raise self-awareness, increase accountability, and achieve the impossible.
What is Coaching?
Coaching as a profession started around the 1900s. It has been developing and expanding over the years. In the beginning, it was connected to psychology and counseling. However, between the 1970s and 1980s, coaching was recognized as a unique and separate profession with its own methodology. It became an essential part of businesses and, more specifically, connected to increasing performance.
Over the years, coaching has expanded beyond the business world and became part of almost all aspects of life. This is due to its impact in creating effective transition and change that enhances a person’s personal life, career, business, and so on. As a result, different specializations under the field of coaching emerged. This include: executive coaching, life coaching, business coaching, leadership coaching, spirit coaching, and more.
The positive impact of coaching allowed it to become a popular field. In fact, research studies, articles, case studies, books, seminars, training, and more have augmented internationally. With this expansion, international organizations were established to create an umbrella for coaching. One of which is the International Coach Federation (ICF). The ICF is considered one of the largest international organizations focused on regulating and developing the study and practice of coaching.
The ICF defines coaching as: “partnering with clients in a thought-provoking and creative process that inspires them to maximize their personal and professional potential.” The idea of coaching is different from mentoring and counseling. Coaching is working together with the client according to his/her agenda. The client determines the subject or the goal. There is no judgement in coaching. There is no advise. It is based on active listening and powerful questions. The purpose of coaching is to raise the individual’s awareness and increase accountability in order to follow through the agreed actions to achieve the desired outcomes.
There is no wonder that such profession has been flourishing over the recent years. It focuses on the individual. It is about the person. Thus, the client (or coachee as referred to) is given the chance to be in control and make the choices that best fit. The coaching process opens the doors for the client to see a variety of options and implement creative solutions.
Coaching in Schools
Imagine if such methodology is practiced in schools! Teachers implement coaching techniques to students allowing them to reach their own conclusions and set their own actions. Students feel accountable because they are aware of what they want, why they want it, and how to achieve it. Teachers feel less stressed and able to determine creative ways to teach and achieve the school system requirements. Leaders are working together with the team effectively to provide exceptional educational experience. All this is possible with coaching!
Schools in USA, UK, and Australia has been implementing coaching and embedded it into the education system. This helped such schools to provide a learning experience for the student in which he/she can accelerate and prosper. The students become active learners. They do not only learn academics but also develop life skills. As one writer states:
“Learning coaching skills provides teachers with the tools to help learners to find their own solutions to problems, take risks and feel comfortable with challenge and change.”
Coaching is not only for students. It is for everyone within the education system. This is because coaching empowers each individual at all levels. It allows them to discover themselves. They make reasonable decisions and be accountable to action. Self-confidence is increases; in addition performance is escalated.
Who Needs Coaching in Schools?
The simple straight-forward answer is: Everyone! Yet, in terms of schools, I will focus on three parties: students, teachers, and leadership team. Each one has a different role within the education system. Each role requires a different set of knowledge, skills, and attributes. However, they are interrelated and they influence each other. Thus, in order to have a positive transformation and an effective change, all three parties should be part of the coaching implementation.
A teacher, who is dedicated to provide opportunities for the students to expand their knowledge, will find multiple ways to conduct a lesson. The teacher is more willing, for example, to allow the students to select the subject and how to learn it. The students are actively participating in the learning process instead of being a forced recipient of it. As a result, students are more eager and enthusiastic to learn. They are learning ‘how to learn’ instead of ‘what to learn.’ Also, they feel responsible to learn and able to deliver the learned information.
This could only be possible with the support of the leadership team within the school. Teachers might do this alone; however, it is much easier and enjoyable with the support of the management within the school. School leadership team who understand the main objectives of education and schools are open to allow more freedom of choice. They will provide the tools required to work as a team with the teachers. Their main purpose is to present students with exceptional learning opportunity.
Why Schools Need Coaching?
There are many reasons why schools need coaching. The very essence of coaching as a practice is required within the education system. Coaching can transform the education standards within the school and enhance personal and academic performance.
First, let’s look at coaching in general. Some of the reasons why coaching works:
There is no judgement
There is no hidden agenda
It is confidential
It is unbiased
It focuses on the individual
It is based on trust and mutual understanding
It creates a safe environment to speak freely
It helps reach creative and realistic solutions that is suitable to the personal situation
Second, let’s look at the benefits of coaching in terms of the three levels spoken about earlier: leadership team, teachers, and students.
Coaching can be useful to the leadership team. It can help them as individuals and as a group. Some of the benefits include:
Determine the values for the individuals and the school as an organization
Enhance the school system to serve the vision and mission
Handel ministry regulations and requirements
Cope with stressful and challenging situations
Manage teachers and administration in a supportive and positive way
Be committed to continuous progress and development
Achieve a work-life balance
In terms of teachers, coaching can be implemented in two ways. One way is for teachers to attend coaching sessions as clients. Through the sessions, the teachers will be aware of the current situations and ways to improve it. Also, the teacher will recognize the different ways to handle situations within and outside of the classroom. The second way is for teachers to attend training program to learn the practice of coaching and use it in the classroom with students. This allows the teacher to implement coaching techniques and tools with students. They will be equipped with skills such as active listening and asking powerful questions that will help uplift the students’ thinking and performance levels.
In both cases, coaching will have positive results, which include:
Increase self confidence
Conduct lessons in more creative and effective ways
Improve quality of learning
Build strong relationships with students, parents, and other staff
Cope with stressful and challenging situations
Achieve a work-life balance
Students who attend coaching sessions are more likely to excel in school. In addition, a teacher coach will role model coaching skills within the classroom. This expose students to the idea of coaching and how to implement it. They are, therefore, able to use these skills in school and beyond. Students will be able to:
Understand themselves and appreciate it
Handel peer pressure and other stressful situations
Able to problem solve and think critically & analytically
Manage school requirements (homework, project, tests, ect)
Achieve desired outcomes including good grades
Be accountable for their actions
A Teacher Coach
As mentioned previously, teachers can benefit from coaching through coaching sessions or from learning to be a coach. Learning coaching as a profession and practice increases the benefit of coaching. The teacher will be able to implement coaching techniques in the classroom and create a ‘coaching’ environment in which students prosper and flourish.
Becoming a teacher coach enhances the teaching skills. According to one of the articles in Learning Culture, coaching helps develop the following teaching skills:
One of the main fundamentals of coaching is asking powerful questions. The questions allow for the recipient to think deeply. It helps understands why we feel, think, and behave a certain way. The most powerful questions are open questions that provide the space for the think thoughtfully and deeply. Teachers with such skills will be able to ask questions that trigger creativity amongst students. It provides students with an opportunity to think, analyze, and reach their own conclusions and solutions. This will, in return, increase their self-confidence and enhance their ability to solve problems and make smart decisions. Such skills and attitude are essential in today’s world. More companies are looking for candidates beyond the technical ability. They recruit a person who is able to think, take decisions, and perform.
Another important part of coaching is listening. There are many types and levels of listening. However, coaching applies deep and active listening. This includes not only the spoken language but the unspoken such as facial expressions, body gestures, and silence. A teacher with such skill can help students understand themselves and their mindset. It also makes students feel worthy and important since there is someone listening to them attentively. This enhances the teacher-student relationship and develops rapport. Based on that, students feel comfortable and safe to speak and share their ideas, thoughts, and even their questions. The students, therefore, will develop their speaking and listening skills from their role model, the teacher. Such skill is considered a ‘life’ skill that is required in personal and career life.
With coaching, teachers can guide students to be reflective. This is done as a result of the coaching process of allowing the person to think for him/herself. The student uses personal judgement and reach their own conclusions. Along with that, the teacher guides the student to assess personal skills, strengths, and areas of improvements in order to utilize them in the best way possible. This does not only build self-awareness and confidence, it is essential to understand, evaluate, and enhance (when needed) the actions and behavior. This skill allows the students to understand themselves and others. This is the foundation of emotional intelligence, which recently has become a ‘must’ in any personal and business interaction.
In many stories of successful people, the person starts with almost nothing in terms of resources such as money, human capital, social support, and so on. Yet, in spite of that, people like Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, and many more became successful and established a multi-million-dollar business. The secret is resourcefulness, which can be defined as looking beyond what is available and utilizing the limited sources available in a creative way to achieve what seems impossible.
This is a useful tool and skill that teachers can help students develop and use in their daily lives. It trains their thinking process to be creative, imaginative, and open to opportunities. In addition, students will become persistence to achieve their goals. Through coaching, teachers will empower the students to be focused, determined, and successful.
You might have realized that coaching in the education sector is vital. It does not focus on helping students succeed in life but it allows them to learn, grow, and develop. It opens their minds and hearts to reach their fullest potential. It assists them to achieve their purpose and meaning in life. It provides them with the opportunity to master life skills rather than only skills needed in schools.
One of these skills is empathy. A teacher coach is not judgmental because the focus is working with the student to understand the feeling, thought, and behavior. With powerful questions and deep listening, the teacher coach provides a safe space for the student to speak freely and explore within themselves. This skill is not only practiced by the teacher coach. The student, through coaching, will develop the skill of empathy and connecting to others at a human level. This translates to building strong healthy relationships with family members or even future co-workers.
Another skill that teachers develop through coaching is the ability to analyze. This skill is important throughout the coaching sessions as every spoken and unspoken words presented by the student is analyzed because it is sending a message. Once this skill is developed, the teacher coach can analyze everything else around such as behavior in the classroom or during recess. This skill is, therefore, learned by the student who will find it very useful. The student will begin internally. The student will learn to dissect personal thoughts and feelings. Then, the skill will become automatic that allows the student to analyze aspects within the surrounding environment. However, the blindside of being analytic is overthinking and being hesitant to seize the moment. This can be balanced with coaching for the teacher and student.
The list mentioned above are few of the skills acquired by a teacher who chooses to attend training course(s) in coaching. Once these skills are practiced and mastered, they will be transferred smoothly to the students. With coaching, students will learn to question, to listen, to reflect. In addition, they will expand the way they think and see things. They become resourceful, empathetic, and analytic. With this, they are more prepared to face life challenges and overcome them. They are more likely to become successful and achieve their dreams and goals in life.
Research on Coaching in Schools
With the increase demand on coaching in school, more companies established to provide this service. In addition, the number of research and analytical studies on coaching practiced in schools is raising. However, there is a limited number of studies that provides analytical data. CoachinginSchools, a company that provides coaching programs in UK schools and a leading expert in the field, presented a study containing both quantitative and qualitative data. Through their several coaching programs, CoachinginSchools have studies the impact of coaching in schools. They released the following results:
29% increase in student’s progress and results
27% improvement in the quality of teaching
44% higher aspiration and ambitions
44% growth in confidence
In terms of teachers,
30% increase I teaching lessons within seven months
Increase in teacher performance within 6 weeks
Increase confidence and effectiveness in roles
Improvement in teaching and learning
In terms of students,
Lower absence rates
Increase in grades
More students achieving higher grades
536 overdue/missing assignments submitted within 8 weeks
Improved test results such as SATs
In addition to the research done by CoachinginSchools, I collected five more studies on the impact of coaching in schools. These studies were conducted by establishments that provide coaching in schools in USA, UK, and Australia. Coaching in schools contribute to presenting a high-quality level of education by having exceptional teachers, exceptional students, and exceptional educational environment.
Exceptional Educational Environment
Coaching vs Training
There are many schools who invest in their teachers by providing them a variety of training programs. Moreover, a number of teachers spend their own time and money to attend courses that help them improve and become better teachers. Although training is essential and it serves an important purpose, studies have chosen that coaching is more effective. A research done by Matthew A. Kraft and David Blazar looked at the Professional Development (PD) program offered to teachers in the United States and compared it to coaching implemented in schools. They discovered that PD programs are ineffective. One reason for that is that the training program is attended by teachers at different levels, different environment, with different challenges. Yet, they are all taught the same tactics and techniques. Whereas coaching, it is focused on the individual’s needs, requirements, situations, and goals.
The research included 60 studies that confirm the effectiveness of coaching. In fact, coaching helped teachers improve their teaching skills, which in return enhanced the student achievement level. Compared to PD programs, coaching helped create a drastic change in the teacher practices within the classroom. Moreover, the coaching boosted the teacher professional level from a beginning level to a teacher with 5-10 years of experience, as shown in the graph below:
Coaching is a professional field. It is a way to learn, develop, grow, and achieve. Thus, it is no wonder that it is increasingly implemented in schools around the world. The coaching can be implemented in schools as coaching sessions to students, teachers, and/or leadership team. It can also be a skill learned by teachers to use effectively in their teaching practice.
Despite the reasons for using coaching in schools, it can help transform the education system to provide a positive learning environment. Coaching will allow schools to present students with the knowledge, skills, and attributes necessary not only to excel academically but to flourish and live a meaningful successful life.