3 Ways To Be A Great Teacher Coach

Saturday, 22nd March, 2014

Education concept: Coaching on puzzle backgroundIn 3 Ways to be a Great Coach, I suggested some general ways that you can ensure you’re doing your best as a coach.

In this post I’m turning my attention to some of the areas that are key to successful coaching by teachers of their peers.

These are areas that can be particularly tricky in the context of a busy school, but need to be addressed and conquered to ensure a more successful coaching session.

My experience in training teachers to be coaches in schools has identified time and again that the following areas are key:

1. Do I have your attention?

When you go into a coaching session (as a coach), how much of your attention is on the coachee, and how much is on:

  • what you’ve just been teaching
  • a meeting you’ve just come out of
  • the list of things you still need to do today
  • something else?

The trick here is to find a way to clear your head of distracting thoughts and get into active listening mode. The sooner you can do this the better. Visualisation techniques are quite common with coaches to help clear the head ready to ‘receive’ your coachee. Some things coaches have done include:

  • creating an image of any distracting thoughts and imagine them shrinking and disappearing to nothing
  • as above but imagine putting them in a ‘bin’ and closing the lid
  • or if it’s more about quietening the mind, just imagine turning down the volume on those distracting thoughts!

What would work for you?

2. Is your “Do Not Disturb” sign up?

Do Not Disturb SignIt doesn’t happen that often, but I have been in the middle of coaching a Headteacher or class teacher in a room with the door shut, when someone has knocked on the door (or just walked in) and given the Head/teacher a message, or said there was a call for them.

One of the benefits of coaching is that it provides the coachee with valuable time to stop and reflect, as well as plan important next steps. From this process comes various learning opportunities , but this is only achievable through an uninterrupted environment. You know how frustrating it can be when you’re trying to work something out in your head and find a solution, only to have your train of thought halted by some sort of distraction.

So next time you do a coaching session, make sure you leave people in no doubt that you’re not to be disturbed!

 3. It’s not about sharing good practice

Many good conversations and meetings are going on in schools all over the country (and via social media!) which involve sharing good practice.

Coaching is one occasion where the process doesn’t involve sharing ideas, telling the coachee how you’d sort the behaviour of ‘x’, or giving them strategies to manage a particular parent (for example). The key words in that last sentence were – sharing, telling, giving … those are things for the domain of mentoring or training, not coaching.

It’s so tempting (as the teacher coach) to want to help your colleagues, as you’ve done many times before, by giving them solutions during coaching sessions. But if you do this you’re not coaching and you’d be restricting their opportunities for learning and growth.

So whenever you’re tempted to give … or tell … or share your ideas, just bite your tongue and trust the coaching process to deliver the best solution for your coachee!


debbie019 fThank you for taking time to read this blog.

I’m Debbie Inglis, a performance coach, mentor and trainer, working with Heads, Principals, School leaders and their teams to maximise leadership performance, create more effective, confident, and motivated teams … in a way that brings out the best in them.

If you’re interested in my services, please get in touch, and you can read more here.