Coaching & Leadership Development
3 Coaching Skills you need as a School Leader

3 Coaching Skills you need as a School Leader

    Good coaches and indeed good school leaders are able to communicate a belief in people’s potential and an expectation that they can do their best. Their tacit message is…   I believe in you. I’m investing in you, and I expect your best efforts. As a result, people sense that a leader cares, so they feel motivated to uphold their own standards for performance, and they feel accountable for how well they do. (Daniel Goleman)   For those that line manage others, it is essential that they have the skills that will have a strong, direct, positive impact on staff levels of motivation, and improve standards for all. Many of the skills required for this type of impact stem from coaching.   Coaching is a broad term for a process that is concerned with bringing out the best in others. There are a wide spectrum of skills that coaches develop over time to assist both the personal and professional growth process.   For school leaders seeking to develop both their coaching competence and confidence there are three key coaching skills that are the foundations for success when working with others…   1. Asking High Level Questions   Questions have the power to change both the content and direction of a conversation. They can play a key role in shaping the structure of a meeting and the quality of both the discussion and related outcomes.   In a variety of school settings ‘high level’ questions (i.e. ones that enable an individual to think deeply about their intention and motivation to succeed) can be used to enable both the...
How Coaching Transforms Staff Performance in Schools

How Coaching Transforms Staff Performance in Schools

  The frustrations, pressures, and challenges teachers face test their self-esteem, energy and dedication every day. To preserve throughout their careers the vision with which the best of them started – to hold fast to the idea that the business they are in is that of setting minds on fire – is a heroic project. [Branden, 1994: 226] It is a project that all teachers and school leaders face, one that is about learning to bring out the best in themselves and others. It is a project that is as much about ensuring their pupils are emotionally intelligent, as it is about ensuring that they are numerate and literate.   It is about ensuring that they leave school with levels of emotional maturity and insight that will enable them to develop positive relationships with individuals from all walks of life. It is about a human quest where the prize should not just be a ranking on government league tables, but building generations of young people who possess a healthy sense of self- worth and belief in their own capabilities and potential, ready to stride forward and to make their own dreams reality.   Where do we begin?   For a school to realise its potential of being a place in which humanity is at its best, and by extension a place where all human beings flourish, a school has to be an emotionally healthy place where all adults within the community possess a positive sense of self and a robust emotional maturity. Yet sadly, we know this is very hard to achieve. Why? Because very few adults, leaders included,...
The 3 Signs of Toxic School Culture

The 3 Signs of Toxic School Culture

  Over the past few years, I’ve seen and heard the term “toxic school culture” or “toxic schools” being used to depict various situations in which there are qualities that negatively impact the performance, mental health or working environment in our schools.    It’s a term that is a source of great debate, as what qualifies as a “toxic school culture” to one teacher or school leader is so very much dependent on context and the personalities/people involved.   Having read some of the accounts from teachers and school leaders who have described their experiences of “toxic schools” and from my own experience in education, I would surmise that these experiences, are rarely caused by a wilful intent to toxify a school culture by any one party.   Rather they are a result of behaviours and habits (of staff and leaders alike) that left un-checked have become negative norms. Very often, initially, these behaviours and habits may not even be immediately obvious or even appear to be a huge problem.   However, in a delicate school ecosystem where emotions are contagious and behaviours can easily impact one another; these limiting behaviours, attitudes or habits can gradually become endemic and slowly hinder both staff performance and the culture of the school.   I am certain that in-spite of the stories that abound, the vast majority of teachers and school leaders do not want to either create or be a part of such cultures. So, what are the early warning signs and how can teachers and school leaders be better prepared to address them when they are in evidence?   There...