Tales from a Coaching School

By February 12, 2015Newsletters

Why you can’t ignore the benefits of coaching

Hundreds of schools have discovered the huge benefits of coaching to teaching and learning and school culture. The comments below, made by teachers from the Coachmark Silver Award-winning East Barnet School, give an insight into the enormous value that coaching can bring to any school.

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How has the Coachmark Award helped your school?

Chris Gillet (Lead teacher coach)

‘The Coachmark process has been very supportive. It has given us a direction and also the confirmation that we were doing something focussed and coherent – that we were on the right lines.’

‘The coaching agenda has done two things for us. Within the classroom we now take a coaching-style approach. We believe that students have the potential and we trust them that they can and will access the materials we provide. And outside the classroom it helps the school provide support for teachers to find out their strengths, to discover what aspects of their performance they would like to develop and what their ideal classroom would look like.’

How has coaching influenced the culture among teachers?

Jamila Wolf (Head of German)

‘Staff are more ready to step back and talk about an issue or class, rather than giving a quick or tokenistic answer. They are much more willing to ask questions about the situation and understand the context for it.’

‘Coaching has also encouraged different departments and faculties to talk about learning and teaching with each other. It has encouraged people to take more risks as they are working in a coaching culture where it’s okay to not know the answer, and it’s okay to ask questions to clarify things.’

How has coaching enhanced classroom practice?

Ellie Christie (Head of history)

‘It has encouraged me to let the students think, to not stop them after the first response and to encourage them to keep going to develop their ideas. I’ve also encouraged them to recognise that there are lots and lots of “right” answers, not just one.’

‘It has also helped to redress the balance of talk time in the classroom – hearing more from students and less from teachers, showing that the students have taken a more central role in the lesson and have been listened to.’

‘Finally, it has helped students think about success more and what they’re trying to achieve’.

How has coaching affected the performance management process?

Chris Gillet

‘Coaching has influenced the performance management agenda considerably, with more open questions being asked about the lesson, how the teacher felt it went and what the strengths were. This has led on to a clearer focus on how the teacher wants to develop aspects of their performance.’

‘Performance management has become less threatening as a process and this has resulted in a more confident staff who are able to be frank about things they are not happy about in their teaching.’

‘Teachers here will be able to take more risks in the classroom in future because there is an agenda of not being judged, but being supported.’

What have the other benefits of coaching been?

Chris Gillet

‘The individualised nature of coaching is key. It is a way of giving something back to staff, a way of empowering them. But it is also a way of listening to what teachers think needs to change about the school too so they can achieve what they want to achieve. It also gives teachers the chance to see how they fit in to the bigger picture of the school.’

‘It’s important that the school makes it clear that it’s okay to give things a go and that it wants teachers to experiment. And because you have somebody listening to you and not judging you it is easier to be inspired by the opportunities yourself as a teacher.’

‘The concept of coaching, that notion that “I believe in your potential and will create the environment where you fulfil your potential”, is vital and will help drive forward and inspire the learning agenda at our school.’

More interviews and case studies about the many benefits of coaching can be found on the Coachmark website here.