Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Student -v- Teacher -v- Relationship Centred Coaching

On Monday I did a half day workshop with a visiting consultant Diane Sweeney.  While I've been reading a lot about coaching recently, and have been doing a MOOC on coaching through Coursera, I've never really focused on the different types of coaching.  On Monday, however, it became crystal clear to me why the MOOC and the books I've read seem to be saying completely the opposite things:  it's because the emphasis is on something different.  Diane consults around student-centred coaching, the MOOC deals with teacher-centred coaching and some of the books I've read deal with relationship-driven coaching.

Let me try to give some examples of what the differences are between these 3 approaches:

  • In student-centred coaching the coach works with the teacher to design learning based on a specific objective or standard for student learning.  In teacher-centred coaching the focus is on the teacher implementing a programme, or a way of instructing.
  • In student-centred coaching the focus is on looking at student work to make decisions that are differentiated and needs-based.  In teacher-centred coaching the focus is on what the teacher is or isn't doing.
  • Relationships are of course the basis of all coaching, but in relationship-driven coaching the coach is seen as a provider of support and resources in a way that doesn't threaten them.
Back again to a chapter that I've just read in The Art of Coaching by Elena Aguilar which states "a coach helps build the capacity of others by facilitating their learning."  Aguilar also discusses different sorts of coaching, describing one form as a way of changing behaviours and another of changing beliefs and ways of being.
  • Directive (or instructive) coaching is all about changing behaviours.  Here the coach is the expert and provides resources, suggestions, models lessons and so on.  It's common to have this coach working in a particular subject or instructional framework where the coach is the expert responsible for teaching a set of skills or sharing a body of knowledge.  This type of coaching often results in short-term changes, but since the teacher is not reflecting or making decisions the change is for a limited time.
  • Facilitative coaching can build on changing behaviours in order to support someone in developing ways of being, or it can explore a person's beliefs in order to change their behaviours. This type of coaching promotes new ways of thinking as a result of reflection, analysis, observation and experimentation.  The coach does not share knowledge, but instead builds the teacher's existing skills.  Cognitive coaching (which I'm going to learning more about in the summer) is a facilitative coaching because it focuses on exploring the way we think.
  • Aguilar points out that transformative coaching offers the most potential for changing our education system.  It is aimed not just at the individual teacher but also at the institution and the broader educational and social systems in which s/he works.  The idea behind this is that the impact of coaching is not simply on an individual but on the other levels too.
To be honest I have been rather confused over the past few weeks when considering all the different types and viewpoints about what makes an effective coach.  Thinking about the main purpose of coaching is certainly able to help me sort these out.

Original artwork by an ASB student

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