Why Coaching? - Steve Barkley

Why Coaching?

I found a blog post on twitter for #EducoachOC , Australian educators interested in coaching who have a monthly chat. I have interacted with some of the chat regulars from time to time. This post, by Andrea Stringer, titled, “What’s in it for me?” , was preliminary to an upcoming chat and presented insights and questions to engage the chat participants. I found my thinking engaged as I read the post and decide to share ponderings here.

Stringer stated, “Leaders and educators are all at different points in their careers and the coaching spectrum illustrates that coaching is complex, contextual yet personalised”  and she shared this spectrum which aligns with my continuum of evaluation, supervision, mentoring and peer coaching.

Hill, P. Concepts of coaching: a guide for managers. London: Institute of Leadership and Management, 2004


I describe that administrators are responsible for the entire continuum of evaluation, supervision, mentoring, and peer coaching. Instructional coaches are usually responsible for half of the continuum. They peer coach when a teacher comes to them with a request, they engage in a more mentoring role whenever they are providing a teacher feedback or information that the teacher didn’t request, and they get very close to a supervisory role whenever an administrator “strongly suggests” to a teacher that he/she should work with the coach.

The actions listed on the coaching spectrum match my thinking of those appropriate as an instructional coach changes roles in supervision, mentoring and coaching. Trust is important in all the roles, so it’s important that teachers know “what activity” they are engaged in and the coach’s actions and responses “match that role.”

This #EduCoachOC chat planned to address the causality dilemma-similar to which came first: the chicken or the egg?

Do you need to be self-aware to recognize the significance of coaching?  


Do you need coaching to recognize your level of self-awareness?

Wow!  Great question! I think my answer of course is both. Its why I use the statement “everyone deserves coaching” rather than  “everyone needs coaching”.  My guess is that we all fluctuate between awareness and unawareness of our actions. So, my coaching goes back and forth between working on a change I know I want to make and discovering a new change I want to make.

Here are additional questions the #EducoachOC chat addressed:

Why are some teachers and leaders more hesitant to seek coaching while others are more receptive or even excited about the idea?

I think there are two things that motivate interest and engagement in seeking coaching. The first is driven by the teachers’ desire for things to be different. This could be the teacher is struggling and seeking survival or the teacher’s passion for her student success is causing her to “find a way.” The second comes from the teacher’s experience with coaching unlocking a new awareness. This teacher seeks coaching knowing/expecting a discovery is around the corner.

Coaching is often seen as an intervention focused on improving teaching and learning. What other areas could benefit as a result of coaching?

The bottom line result from time invested in coaching should be student learning. But as you think about all the elements of classrooms and schools that impact student learning many additional returns on coaching arise. One specific for me is the building of teacher efficacy as a teacher and coach discover/create new options for student success. Teacher morale is boosted as coaching communicates that “the work I do is important.” Coaching among peers strengthens relationships and the elements of team with payoffs for teachers and students.

How can coaching develop a person’s ability to identify their own blind-spots?

I compare certain elements of coaching to counselling. If you’ve attended counselling for a while you discover one day that you don’t need to go. Not because a problem is solved, but because you know what questions the counselor is going to ask. If you are willing to sit with coffee for an hour and answer those questions, you can save yourself the counselor’s fee. Similarly, coaching questions come back to me and guide me to be “on the look out” for those blind spots.

How can coaching be utilized to develop self, relationships and teams or organizations?

It’s conscious purposeful actions that I take to develop self and relationships that build teams and organizations. Coaching identifies and supports those conscious changes just the way it supports changes in my teaching.

Should coaching be made compulsory or should it only be provided as an option? Why?

Back to the start of this blog. Some kinds of coaching are compulsory when organizational goals require team member changes. Our goal should be to make coaching expectational. A professional response. When a teacher has, several students failing a course, a principal should be asking, ”What have you found through coaching?” A teacher responding that he hasn’t sought coaching would find a shocked look on an administrator’s face. We need a Culture of Coaching.

Thanks Andrea and #EducoachOC for sparking my thinking.

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One Response to “ Why Coaching? ”

  1. Jan VanGilder Says:

    This aligns to my belief system! Will share it with teachers and mentors.

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