Not sure what coaching is, why it’s so great or how it differs from mentoring? Our Accreditation Coach, Charlotte Andrews answers some frequently asked questions, and our EdTech Advocate, Nicole Ponsford, gives some top tips for eCoaching.
What is coaching?
Coaching is a tool which is used to help clients (that’s you!) to identify and achieve their goals. It is a structured conversation where the coach listens and asks questions to help clients understand more about who they want to be and where they want to be, as well as empowering them to achieve those things.
Coaching differs from mentoring as coaches do not give advice or pass on advice to their clients; coaches believe clients have the answers they need and that they can be ‘unlocked’ by asking the right questions. Coaching also differs from counselling as it does not deal with psychological issues (although it does provide an opportunity to address limiting beliefs and build confidence) and it is present and future focused rather than focused on dealing with past issues.
Unlike mentoring, coaching also has no agenda. We know that becoming a new parent can be accompanied with a whole range of welcome (and uninvited) tips, advice, instruction and duties, and we have found that a coaching relationship can provide you with a space for your thoughts to be articulated and heard. Whilst The MTPT Project is interested in teacher retention and gender equality in leadership, the coaching process focuses on you deciding what you want, without any influence from your coach.
How do I know that coaching is right for me?
If you can answer ‘yes’ to any of the following questions, coaching can support you:
- Is there a gap between where you are now and where you want to be?
- Are you at a ‘crossroads’ in your life and not sure what the way forward is?
- Do you feel that you aren’t currently reaching your potential or feeling fulfilled in some way?
- Is there something new you want to explore but aren’t sure how to?
- Do you feel you don’t have the confidence, skills or resources to do what you want to do?
- Do you feel stuck, or like you have too many or too few choices available to you in areas of your life?
- Do you feel torn by conflicting demands?
What happens during a coaching session?
Almost all of the talking done in a coaching session is done by you. Your coach will normally establish the session and then ask questions and listen. They will not give you answers or tell you what to do.
Coaching can be carried out over the telephone/SKYPE or face to face. Coaches use different models to structure their sessions. At The MTPT Project, we use the GROW model which is an acronym for the areas explored: Goals, Reality, Options and Way Forward. This keeps you moving forward towards your goal. Each session will loosely guide you through a 6-point process:
- Review the previous session and the actions you have completed
- Set the goal for that session
- Consider where you are currently in relation to this goal
- Consider your options in meeting this goal
- Agree on some actions
- Summarise the session
When you have completed your coaching sessions, you will also be asked to complete a short evaluation to help The MTPT Project quality assure their coaching provision. This evaluation will not ask you to divulge the content of your coaching conversation as this is confidential. Your coach will also complete a similar evaluation form.
What technology will I need for coaching?
Most MTPT Project coaching is telephone coaching so you just need to pick up when your coach calls, but there are other face-to-face options that you can discuss with your coach.
There are a range of ways that you can still interact with your coach “in person” without leaving the sofa: Microsoft Skype (or Skype Business if you are really serious and want to put a few pennies to it), Facebook and WhatsApp also offer live chat, as does Apple’s ‘Facetime’. All of these offer both desktop and smart phone apps depending on what set up is preferable to you. GoogleHangouts is another favourite, especially if your school contacts are already signed up to this and Zoom is becoming more popular in the UK.
It is probably a good idea to trial these technologies with your coach during your contracting conversation so that you don’t miss out on precious coaching time dealing with technical glitches.
For more information about the best options for 2017, check out this article.
Who else will know what has been said?
Coaching sessions are completely confidential, as outlined in the Coaching Code of Conduct. There are only extreme circumstances where this confidence needs to be breached such as where illegal activity is taking place, or where the coach understands that you or a child in your care may be at risk of harm.
The MTPT Project’s evaluation forms act as a quality assurance measure and do not ask that you divulge the content of your coaching conversations. However, if you would like to discuss your coaching with The MTPT Project, there is the opportunity to do so using these forms, or by contacting us. We ask that your coach also communicates with us in the unlikely circumstance that there are issues with the coaching partnership that they feel unable to resolve. The MTPT Project will handle any communication with empathy and sensitivity.
What is needed from me during a coaching session?
It can be helpful to prepare for a coaching session by beginning to think about an area of your life you would like to work on and a goal you would like to achieve. This will ensure that the time in the session is of maximum use to you. One practical tip to help achieve this amongst a busy family schedule is to set a reminder on your phone an hour before your coaching session to give you time to settle your children, grab a cup of tea, log in to any programmes and take a moment to breathe and collect your thoughts.
Don’t worry if you don’t have the headspace to do this, though: part of the coaching process is to organise some of these jumbled thoughts, fill in the blanks and find answers to nagging questions.
As a parent, it is sometimes hard to find a time and a space where you are relaxed and ideally won’t be disturbed for the duration of the session but our MTPT Project coaches are flexible and available during the day, evenings and weekends. If your child naps, or goes to bed according to a fairly regular routine, it might therefore be sensible to schedule your coaching session during this quiet time so that you can fully focus on yourself.
If there’s a chance that you will be disturbed (for example, by a baby waking up) it can be helpful to explain this at the beginning of the session and let your coach know how you would like to deal with this – either by carrying on, pausing, dealing with the baby, rescheduling the call or hanging up and calling back a little bit later. Remember that our coaches are parents themselves and knowing your preferences will help them to guide you through your session more effectively.
We all know the impact of sleep deprivation on our memories, so it can be helpful to have a pen and paper handy to note down or doodle some of your thoughts during your coaching conversations. However, if you would rather that your coach do this for you, discuss the possibility of a follow up email during your contracting conversation.
I am ready to be coached. What do I do now?
Explore the different ways to engage with coaching on our main coaching page.
Learn more about how coaching underpins our flexible Accreditation that certifies the CPD you are completing whilst on parental leave and sign up to benefit from this free programme.