Our MTPT Project blogger, Lucy Braidley (@Lucy_Braidley) has taken advantage of the DfE’s free coaching offer during her third maternity leave. I first heard about the DfE’s Women Leading in Education coaching scheme at a local WomenEd event. It sounded interesting and best of all it was free, so I registered my interest online that day. After all, what did I have to lose? From the gov.uk website you can access a huge spreadsheet of all of the coaches in the country. A quick filter by phase and location gave me a much more focussed set of people to look through and I found what looked like a good match for me – an active Headteacher, relatively local but not on the doorstep, who was leading a school that, from the website, looked like an exciting hub with links to lots of other schools and an energetic vibe – I felt the Head of a school like this would understand what made me tick. I emailed my prospective coach directly just before the summer holidays so there was a bit of email ping-pong and a phone call or two before we settled on a date, and I met her at her school. Heads are busy people so my advice if you find arranging a meeting difficult is to stick with it, whilst it may be tricky to arrange, it will be worth it in the end! I really didn’t have a clue what to expect but the process was fascinating. Over our hour together my coach talked very little but just enough, prompting me to consider my goals, how I would reach them and also what the motivations behind my goals were in the first place. At times I found myself doubting the validity of goals that I had been previously unwaveringly sure of, but through that process of reflection I came back to them with a new sense of determination and, more importantly, a solid plan of how I could achieve them. If you are looking to take the next step in your career but aren’t quite sure how you are going to get there then I would thoroughly recommend reaching out to a coach in your area and having a fruitful conversation of your own. Things to think about:
- Do your research, look into your potential coach before you contact them. Are you sure they are the right match for you? Whilst you don’t need to be peas-in-the-pod, I think it helps to share some of the same values.
- Consider what your goal for the session is before you arrive. Whilst it might evolve through the conversation this will help guide you initially.
- My coach was clear to highlight the differences between coaching and mentoring. Rather than to dish out sage advice, her role as coach was to guide me to come to my own conclusions about what was best for me.