I was wrong about Coaching (Part 7/7)
Opening yourself up to being Coached
In the summer, following a commitment to work with the Education Support Partnership, I was offered Coaching in recognition for advocating for the charity. I was unsure, I paused for thought. Yes, I know I write publically and I am naturally sociable, however I am quite guarded personally. I discussed the offer with a trusted and very experienced Head Teacher who fully endorsed the opportunity. He had a coach (really?!). They met three or four times a year. He highly recommended it. I accepted if hesitant.
The first two sessions were by email and then over the phone. Email for pre-meet work and contracts. Setting the frame for ‘our work’ and sharing some responses to questions. The importance of confidentiality and trust was underlined affirmatively and yet sincerely. In for penny in for a pound.
Two points stand out.
- My Coach was not connected with my employment.
- The expectations of our ‘work’ rigorously explored, defined and then confirmed.
We were all set.
Following each of those first two sessions, I found myself deconstructing his Coaching, reflecting on the conclusions I was drawing and the actions or inaction he took during the session. Session felt like the mental equivalent of going to the gym. I was hesitant to go in the first place, enjoyed when I was there, and felt the benefits for some while afterwards. I will also add, that when you commit time to being Coached, you also need to commit time to reflect… on your ‘work.’ It is then, when it dawned on me, a good deal of the development or progress (whatever that was) was being achieved in between the sessions. Hence I will reiterate, time to think is essential and I was using my morning runs to do that.
From a personal standpoint, I did feel vulnerable, exposed maybe? However I had engaged, and for a good reason, and my Coach seemed to be aware of that. I choose the questions, the directions and I wanted to unpick a knotty issue that I had not been able to resolve on my own. At least not fully.
My Coach was very measured. Questions were either ellobarative or very precise, targeted even (prepared one would suggest). He was always patient. I recognised the clarifying techniques and his deliberate use of pregnant pauses, and that was fine. There was also a niggling realisation that these Coaching skills could be honed and developed, that they could be used to make me a better Head Teacher – particularly enhancing my listening skills and and my leadership, encouragement of others. There was a thought that if I developed these skills, I may consciously attend to my own thinking and word choices.
I had opened myself up to being Coached and drawn two professional conclusions. I most certainly wanted to invest in a formal, accredited qualification in Coaching and Mentoring.
Jane Suter: Once you open yourself up to being coached, anything is possible. Now this is not a prerequisite for the higher levels – but these qualifications does allow one to think more on an organisational, cultural and ethical level. In fact, when training to be a coach, an individual will often improve other aspects of their work/home life.
It will not surprise to anyone reading the series, that I turned to Maureen Bowes, who promptly recommended Jane Suter from Red Tiger Consultancy. I met with Jane this week, who was both generous with her time and encouraging with her outlook. Coaching qualifications are accredited by ILM and a few other organisations. ILM have recently refreshed their suite. So now, I get to ask a question. Which Coaching course Jane?
Jane Suter: Coaching is an unregulated business, which is surprising given the great responsibility that a coach has to keep a coachee safe. Coachees are precious human beings that have their own values, beliefs and life experience within them and there is a real risk that an untrained coach could lead them to outcomes that are inappropriate or distressing for them. I would certainly recommend that anyone wanting to learn how to be a coach chooses a course that is underpinned by one of the leading awarding bodies such as the ILM, the UK’s top leadership and management qualifications specialist. This will ensure that the course is thorough and of high quality in order to meet the awarding body’s exacting standards thus enabling coaches to safeguard their coachees and help them achieve the goals they want.
As mentioned in previous posts, when choosing a course, the first thing to consider is the reason that a person wants to undertake a coaching course and where they want to be on completion of the course. For example, are they wanting to introduce a coaching programme to an organisation, or coach senior managers or set up on their own, or coach their teams, or for self development etc. Each of these options potentially has a different choice of course and it is worth taking time to consider the various options before signing up to a course.
Hindsight is a wonderful thing, though I do wish I had found a way to adopt, sooner, a Coaching repertoire. More Coaching then being Coached – though I recognise the value being Coached has brought to me professionally. I do hope schools and leadership training providers look to make a more convincing and informed case for Coaching in school, especially as it can be applied to both professional leadership and teacher instructional development. All in all, I would say that I am a Coaching convert of sorts and hope that this series of posts encourages other teachers and leaders to explore Coaching along side mentoring. Both are equally important in retaining teachers to the profession.
Jane Suter: What does a coaching covert look like or so?
I do not know precisely. Perhaps it is possible to highlight the characteristics of effective Coaches? I only know three. All make you feel that your contributions are of value. All are patient, very patient and consciously make use of “conversational spaces.” They have this Jedi strength that makes me feel I should say something more. There very attentive to your word choices for sure.
Jane Suter: Perhaps Carl Rogers can help with this
Carl Rogers described the ‘necessary and sufficient ‘ conditions to create the right social context and condition for helping conversations as:
- 1Positive self-regard (coach)
- Unconditional positive regard (for coachee)
- Empathetic understanding (coach)
- Being non-judgmental
- Not possessing the issue
- Unconditional positive regard (for coachee)
This is the one that many inexperienced Coaches struggle with.
Well at least I know what I am aiming for when I start my Level 5 ILM accreditation this year.