A few weeks ago I asked this question on Twitter. Can one only understand the impact of coaching by being coached? My Twitter followers seem to think so. 85.7% of voters decided that yes, to understand the impacts of coaching, a person has to go through the process. It is an experiential process after all.
I agree with the majority of the voters. Coaching and its effects seemed to be better understood by those for whom the challenges and insights from the processes of deep listening and free conversation had actually happened. However, it is heartening to find those without experiencing it, could understand and find value in the coaching practices.
In a recent conversation with a member of the team, I realised how the international coaching profession can suffer from some poor impressions. Raquel is from Latin America, where coaching has been a growing trend for some years now. It is inevitable to hear from her that many of the coaches she found chose the self-help path, selling ready-to-go answers and platitudes such as ‘follow your dreams’ or ‘don’t give up, you can do it’: life coaches that are depicting an idealised life that others aspire to is not very authentic and definitely rarely achieved. I can guarantee that professional coaching within education will never deliver the holy grail.
The real impact of coaching is personalised and varied and a direct result of the openness, honesty and engagement that both parties can afford and the positions that we are in. There are, of course, a few pinch points. Finding the time for coaching is one of the hardest and fundamental challenges within education.. Suspension of the doing, and replacing with some thinking is very hard to achieve in itself in a bustling school. The results of a serious work or cultural commitment to engage with the time commitment required for coaching as a process. speaks for itself , showing that leadership needs tending to – leadership at all levels, the classroom, the year group, the subject, the school. Coaching can be a valuable tool to professionals within many fields.
“The coaching with Mary-Jo has been invaluable over the last 5 months, she has allowed me to find time and space to reflect on practice, reflect on the difficulties arising from Coronavirus and crisis management and is incredibly professional, caring and supportive as well as challenging, thought-provoking and developmental.”Headteacher, October 2020