Mary-Jo Hill

09 Aug 2017
Setting the right environment is crucial for a successful coaching session. It is so important, that even Ed Sheeran seems to know that.

I dreamt about Ed Sheeran last night… And even he knew that environment is crucial for coaching.

First of all, let’s enjoy one of Mr. Sheeran creations.

Ed and I had arranged to meet at what seemed like a secondary school campus. The bell had just gone and the students filed back to their classrooms and to other parts of the school. It was at this point that Ed and I started trying to locate a small room or space so that we could begin our first coaching session (Yes! Ed Sheeran was going to be my first celebrity client!?).

We then, in turn, roamed the school environment for a suitable place. Empty classrooms (not any), parents’ room (booked), PE office (cramped and windowless), Head’s office (already used by another visitor). So after a fruitless search, we decided to leave the school gates and wander down the hill to find a sunny spot on the grass or a park bench to start our coaching session. Our search continued: a cafe, too much food distraction; the park bench, young man playing guitar in earshot; a circle of grass, some giggly girls that were bound to recognise him.

This search continued for in fact the whole duration of what was to be our coaching session. There were many points within that hour when I yearned to make a compromise, a “this will do” attitude otherwise I would never start. And yet, I resisted.

Finding the right environment

The importance of setting the right environment for a successful coaching session is crucial. Finding a space that has air, chairs, natural light and is private is paramount. The important aspect of our shared search for a space conducive to coaching was that throughout that time, Ed and I chatted enthusiastically, shared a couple of laughs and by doing so had started to build a strong foundation of trust.

It was this very premise, and discussion around the process of building rapport and trust in your coachee, with a group of talented teachers that had perhaps prompted this dream.  Most teachers are working in a very fast-paced, action-orientated, outcome-driven environment. As in-house coaches, they had mutually agreed after much debate that it is okay to take the time necessary to create a personal presence and professional space that will support contact, safety and trust. Snatching half an hour at lunchtime in the very classroom itself may not give the best start to a considered and professional learning dialogue. Best and worst places to be coached? Would love to hear your thoughts? Or even some recommendations of Positive Ginger Role Models.