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Coaching but not as we know it

When the word coaching is mentioned, especially in a school setting, you may have memories of a person in tracksuit shouting instructions across a field as you run to catch a ball or jump over impossibly high hurdles. Fortunately the PE coaches at St Andrews International School Bangkok are a million miles away from that experience!

GROW Model

There is a different type of coach emerging at St Andrews though. For the past year or so St Andrews has been introducing a coaching model into the school. This coach however is not one that is coaching our students but one that is coaching our staff.

Over the past few months the teachers have been introduced to coaching techniques that can be used to help each other with different problems and difficulties that arise from teaching and being educators. The benefit of the model is that an art teacher from high school can be coached by a primary house leader, or a head of phase can be coached by a teaching assistant.

Coaching is unlike the more traditional mentoring system where all staff have goals set by line managers. Through the use of questioning and active listening techniques, coaches can listen to a teacher and help them arrive at a practical action plan that helps them solve the issue in hand. No expertise on the issue is necessary as the skill comes in helping the coachee discover their real feelings on the matter in hand which in turn helps guide them to a solution.

A Different Approach

Last academic year, the school middle leaders were introduced to a coaching model by John Nicholls, a member of the Nord Anglia University team and an expert on the subject of coaching. Using and adapting the “GROW’ coaching model, first introduced by John Whitmore, he showed us how we could guide each other through a coaching process to get to the bottom of a problem and create a realistic action plan for the future.

The teachers that took on this coaching technique and practised with colleagues have now become ‘coaching champions’ and have had practical experience in the coaching techniques introduced.

The teachers were placed in threes with colleagues across the school. So a primary year leader may have been placed with a high school maths teacher and a head of humanities. Taught questioning skills were used to support and guide rather than tell and instruct. It was found that sometimes all a problem needed for a solution, was time to talk it through and someone to ask the right questions.

Moving Forward and Why it Matters

This year coaching has been experienced by even more teaching staff and new coaching trios will be set up over the next few weeks. One major advantage of doing this is that it creates links between the two campuses as High School teachers will be working collaboratively with Primary School teachers.

For teachers to have the opportunity to think and talk through parts of their practice with colleagues can also has positive outcomes for the students. The skills that are used by the coaches are skills that can be used by teachers in the classroom to improve student learning outcomes.

If teachers are able to help students solve their own educational problems in similar ways to the coaching techniques they have been using on each other, students feel more in charge of their own learning.

If you would like to find out more about Peer Coaching then watch the TED Talk or follow the links to the below-listed scholarly articles.