I believe that a coaching approach is a step in the right direction.
I am a teacher and a coach, my aim is to bring a coaching approach to the Education System. Looking at how good teaching is carried out in schools it's easy to see that good teachers already coach!
Four key aspects of coaching, compared with teaching Based on the International Coach Federation's description of Core Coaching Skills
In both professions there's an overall agreement from a governing body that describes the role of the teacher/coach. There are also agreements on behaviours and goals that describe the teaching/coaching at an individual level. There are specific standards for how to teach/coach, and ethics that guide us through challenging situations.
2) Personal relationship
Teaching/coaching is based on a relationship of mutual trust. In both professions effort is put into building up and maintaining a level of trust and confidence in each other so that the teaching/coaching has an effect.
- A teacher/coach is genuine, displays personal integrity, honesty and sincerity.
- A teacher/coach is clear, keep promises and is supportive in all situations.
3) Effective Communication
The best teaching/coaching relies on effective communication that is adapted to the student's/client's visual-auditory-kinesthetic style of communication, as well as their way of perceiving the world.
In both professions it's essential to listen actively to hear what's happening below the level of the words in what's being communicated.
Both professions use questions to generate the desired change, although a different mix of closed/open questions is used for teaching/coaching. Good teachers know that open questions open up the conversations so that more learning can take place. Coaches use open questions almost exclusively. Good teachers know that questions that are related to the student's world are most effective. Coaches aim to use open questions that bring the client's values into play.
Teachers follow the school's given course plans and their own lesson plans. Coaches use well-researched tools and well-established techniques that follow sequential steps. However, for best results, both professionals know to be flexible and adapt to what's happening in the moment.
In both professions honest and direct communication produces the best results.
4) Learning and Results
The focus for both teaching and coaching is to arrive at a specific result, and learn from the process, the balance between the result and learning will be different from one time to another.
Teachers and coaches both aim to create awareness so that the next step becomes visible and desirable. For teachers it's more effective to guide the students to become aware of what more they can learn about the given subject before attempting to teach it. For coaches, guiding the client to become aware that there is something they can learn about themselves is the major part of the coaching process.
Both professionals know that internally-motivated students/clients are capable of achieving much more than externally-motivated students/clients.
Both professions design activities such as practice, research, trying something new, holding focus etc, aimed at reaching the desired goal. Teachers and coaches may have some favourite suggestions to make, but both know they do better when such activities are co-designed with students/clients.
Both professions use planning and goal-setting as part of their design structure. The difference is in the degree of influence the teacher/coach has over the planning and goal-setting.
In the school situation much of the overall planning, such as the number of lessons per week and what time of day they will be, are the result of logistical compromises based on physical limitations, the size of the school, the number of teachers, the number of students, and all the other lessons that the school shall provide.
Coaches have time-planners too. The number of coaching sessions, dates and times have to be in synchrony with the coach's and the coach's other clients' availability.
In the Education System goal-setting is currently based on an externally imposed curriculum. The coach's goal-setting comes from the client's expressed need for change and development.
The Education System was originally designed to make a positive difference to society by providing education free of charge, to all. An astounding and controversial investment in our shared future!
A generation or two ago students left school in their early teens, most moved on to jobs that their parents could only have dreamt of. The current system has provided opportunities for higher education and better employment. It has succeeded.
Now the Education System is expanding to include support for students well through their formative teenage years, and into their early twenties. To encourage and enable students to remain this long in the Education System, it has to offer more than just intellectual development. It has to offer personal development.
But that's OK. Because good teachers already coach!