Developing a coaching culture in schools

Today is one of those days that I want to commit to memory. It was energising, refreshing and allowed for creative conversations about leadership and vision. Our executive team, under the guidance of Jan Robertson*, is engaging in a plan of establishing a culture of coaching in our school. Today three of our executive team attended a day with Jan Robertson and executive teams from other schools. To hear about their experiences, how far they have come along the journey, and to share our experience was a great opportunity. I was particularly interested to hear about how schools have altered the mentoring process, in order to bring out the best in their staff. I was really interested in how some schools gave their staff the opportunity to select their own mentors. The schools that attract the SSNP funding have really created some great alternate models to mentoring and to really engage the teachers in the change process. It’s about school improvement. Working in a system of Catholic schools is a fantastic opportunity to connect and network with other teachers. I gained so much from the experience and really look forward to the next session. 

Coaching culture sessions occur between two people. In the sessions you can talk about areas you want to improve, challenges or anything in your role. It’s like a process of deep reflection. The listener cannot offer advice or interrupt. They really ask you questions to deepen your reflection. It takes a bit of practice but it is so worth it. 

Coaching culture –  an overview:

  • Creating opportunities to build leadership capacity
  • Reflect on critical practice
  • It’s about creating energy and passion that we have and that we see in others
  • Teachers see and learn from professional practice – they don’t make mistakes over and over. Ask for professional learning in key areas
  • It’s about being learners together 
  • It’s about building the culture so that things can grow
  • Culture building
  • Medium to grow seeds of professionalism
  • Culture of reflective practice 

Why culture building?
To improve quality of learning experiences for students and to achieve the desired learning outcomes for students
Bottom line… Moral purpose is to change our practice and learn to grow to meet the changing and complex  needs of our students.
I really resonated quite strongly with these ideas when Jan said  “(We) need to educate why we are leading the change. People need to see you as someone who loves to learn. Be the entrepreneur.” This is so very, very true. In schools, you have to model the change you want to see. Being the entrepreneur means that you could find resources or opportunities to make things happen. You could connect people with each other etc. It’s about being resourceful. 
Given that for me, term two has very much been about the minutae of administration in my role, today was such a great opportunity to do what I love doing most – thinking about the big picture. Don’t get me wrong – I love my role and all that it entails, but today was a great, energising experience. I also loved the fact I could spend the day with two awesome colleagues, colleagues that I got to know so much better today. 
*Jan Robertson is a professional training and coaching professional. She is a senior researcher at the University of Waikato, NZ. She is also an adjunct professor at Griffith University. I am currently reading one of her books on coaching cultures and look forward to learning more about this area. 
My initial reflections about being in the coaching role (as active listener) is that I wanted to offer solutions or engage in problem solving. I can only assume that this comes from my role, which is to solve problems. I also don’t like seeing people struggle so I sometimes want to solve problems and provide solutions. Learning about being an active listener within this framework has taught me that getting to the answer in the quickest way, may not necessarily be the best way. It has been a great learning curve so far and I look forward to learning more and reflecting further in the journey.

About acoure

English Coordinator and English teacher in Sydney. Believes in the power of education. Passionate about pedagogy, how students learn, curriculum design and learning spaces. I am keenly interested in finding out more about how teachers have adapted their pedagogy in a 1:1 environment. I am also eternally grateful for the inspirational educators I worked with in my formative years of teaching. They opened my eyes to the power of what a deep understanding of pedagogy can do to enhance the learning opportunities for students.
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