Coaching very much seems to be a school improvement strategy that is in vogue at the moment.
Considering the amount of coverage it gets across social media and other platforms, many would be forgiven for believing that it was some kind of miracle cure for all that is wrong with our current ailing school system. As much as I am an advocate for coaching in schools, the first thing that I will quite openly and honestly say is, ‘it is not a cure-all!”
If, however, you are serious about creating a culture in which the professional ailments of some parts of our system can be constructively addressed, then along with other personalised approaches to staff development/school improvement, it’s a good place to start.
And … why is it a good place to start? It’s a good place to start because coaching is quite simply about building connections; building connections both with self and with others. And surely this is what school improvement is about. When adult to adult connections are weak a similar fragility is witnessed within school structures and systems. Conversely, when they are strong, school improvement feels that much less arduous.
Schools which are adept at using coaching to support school improvement through strengthening relationships and connections, are often those which are characterised by the three signs of a coaching culture.
They are schools which are characterised by a heightened ability to use coaching (formally and informally) to:
1. Deepen levels of communication and understanding
These schools understand that the first response to a question is not necessarily the best response. They understand that to achieve great heights (for all parties) then conversations of depth and understanding need to be had.
They understand that when individuals are properly listened to and discerning questions asked, more is revealed, more is understood and very often as a direct result, meaning is derived and purpose given to the daily aspects of school life.
2. Challenge individuals to achieve their best
It never ceases to amaze just how difficult it can be to enable adults working in our schools to be their best, in all situations! For such a long time, particularly as a Head, I assumed that if you were choosing to work in a school, you not only wanted the children to fulfil their potential, you also wanted the same for yourself.
Looking back, I now realise how naïve I was. For whatever reason (in fact, there are tons! Too many for me to go into now) helping adults to fulfil their potential and really believe in themselves, is a far more complex and circuitous route than it is for children!
Yet, there are schools through the application of certain coaching skills that have found ways to help adults navigate this path. Very often they will tell you the path is more spiral in its application; with places on the journey having to be-revisited more than once. However, they accept and understand this, knowing that coaching conversations help to steer the spiral journey upwards and they are necessary for the growth of the individual and their school.
3. Develop levels of self-awareness and emotional intelligence
When individuals become familiar with coaching type conversations that encourage them to look in-wards they became more self-aware. They understand that their performance has as much to do with their actions, as it does with their hidden world of thoughts, feelings and emotions. Schools that understand this, know how to use coaching as a way to help adults understand themselves better. Such schools are characterised by staff who have a high level of emotional intelligence.
They are aware of the degree to which their emotions (the good and the bad!) impact on others and they take full responsibility for this. There is no blaming or shaming when things go wrong. Full adult responsibility is accepted. Relationships are candid, transparent and non-judgemental. As a result, all flourish.
Taking the First Steps…
If you would like to begin to develop a coaching culture across your school, then ensure you don’t miss out on your chance to be a part of our next 4 Day Coaching Programme.
The Programme (which is approved by the Institute of Leadership and Management) will provide senior school leaders with all the know-how and confidence needed to effectively utilise coaching as a powerful part of their roles and help them to implement coaching across their school.
It will also equip you with a new set of coachig skills that can help you to…
– Manage difficult conversations successfully
– Understand how to get the best out of different members within your team
– Facilitate better teamwork and minimise team conflict
– Develop nurturing positive, effective and supportive school relationships
– Understand yourself better, so that you can fully utilise your strengths in your role
If you would like to find out more about the programme, the structure and content, please follow the link below…