Coaches of a feather...?
Updated: Apr 25
Are you part of a group of coaches? As I connect with more and more coaches, more and more versions of coaching groups, or teams, surface. And with the variety of coaching titles out there, does the word ‘coach’ mean the same thing for everyone? How do the identities of singular coaches impact the identity of a group?
Why might this matter?
In her book Student-Centered Coaching: The Moves, Diane Sweeney says, “Being clear about what coaches will and won’t do helps counter mistrust and fear,” (2018, p.59). There are many ways we can communicate what we will and won’t do - and we hope our actions speak louder than words. But when teachers share access to a variety of coaches, could our work alone unintentionally muddy the waters? What draws our practise together when we are part of a group of coaches, so that we are clear and consistent? If I am a Literacy Coach and you are a Tech Integration Coach, are we the same? Should we be the same? If we are to even begin to counter mistrust and fear, coaches should make sure we are clear about the core values that drive coaching in our context.
This doesn’t necessarily mean aligning our approaches while coaching. There are many great models out there, but what works in your context? How has coaching been set up and what are the parameters coaching needs to work within? If you are lucky enough, you might have the ability to define some of these yourself. If you don’t (or even if you do), it’s unlikely a single approach will be a perfect fit.
Me and two of my fellow coaching colleagues got to thinking on all this lately. What matters to us in coaching? What is our ‘promise’ to our coachees? For us as individuals, the answers seemed obvious. And as we sat down to talk, the conversations were revealing – about how we are the same, and how we are different. It was important work, despite its seemingly basic nature.
So what did we do?
We’ve just completed the first module of the Student-Centred Coaching Certificate, so revising its core values has been a common starting point – and we’ve brought in other models and ideas to complement our thinking. From this, we drafted a coaching philosophy with the aim of aligning the work we do with teachers; the philosophy names the core values that underpin our approaches to coaching.
It is a simple and powerful list of qualities, and honouring them as we coach from here on in also means honouring each other as coaches.
Do you work as part of a group of coaches? Do you have a coaching philosophy (or something similar) that underpins you work? Please feel free to share it – it would be great to know what this looks like for other coaches!