Leading teaching in action: Structuring a coaching session
Managing structured sessions
Having a good process is essential to the eventual success or outcome of coaching. You will need to take into account:
- the desirable length of sessions
- the intervals between sessions
- how to keep appropriate notes and other documents.
It is likely that the first session will be very different from the final session; not least, you will move from seeking to understand the coachee and their situation towards consolidating and further developing their learning.
In order to establish trust in this new relationship you will want to demonstrate your professionalism by talking through and establishing the protocols for your work.
- Does the coachee have the information they need about coaching? Do they understand the basic principles and practices of coaching? Have you established how often sessions will be and how long each will take?
- How will you demonstrate your commitment to their learning and development? Do they trust that you are going to work hard for them and focus hard on their progress?
- How will you tailor your approach for this individual? How frequently will you ask for them to tell you what is working and what isn't?
- What will you do to display your professionalism and integrity as a coach? (Keep all appointments, be on time, maintain confidentiality and deliver what you say you'll deliver.)
Four stages of a coaching session: Structuring a session
This model shows how the four stages of coaching link to the National Strategies model for effective school improvement work and offers a way of looking at the role and activities of the leading teacher. It should help you find a way of negotiating your coaching activity within the more formal organisational and leadership functions of the school.
There are four stages of a coaching session:
- establishing the context for coaching – see point 3 below
- creating understanding and direction – see points 4 and 5 below
- reviewing and confirming learning – see point 6 below
- completion – see points 1, 2 and 7 below.
- Gaining entry – Securing entry and negotiating with school leaders; building a relationship; assurance of knowledge of the school context; resisting the expert trap
- Contracting – Securing ownership by the coachee; clarifying roles and responsibilities; clarifying boundaries; agree only to what is appropriate for a coach
- Collecting data – Clarify joint understanding of the issues/problems; agree sources of data; collect relevant data
- Making sense of the data – Reflect, question and discuss data; consider collecting more (different) data; agree what is relevant and important; what data helps to build new practice?
- Moving towards action – Enable coachee to make decisions for action; generate and question options; think through implications; draft a written plan to commit to implementation
- Implementing action – Encourage, support, confront, challenge, review; reduce barriers to successful action
- Disengaging – Review success; evaluate jointly; confirm new capacity; implement an exit strategy