What do you believe? A reflection on coaching.

To be authentic you need to act in a way that is consistent with what you believe – Jim Knight

In June, I spent two days at a conference run by Corwin featuring Jim Knight sharing his better conversations and instructional coaching expertise .

Knight discusses six beliefs of better conversations that address authenticity in the way we behave and act towards others when in conversation with them.

Perhaps you’ve heard them before but here’s my take on them in relation to coaching:

I see others as equal partners

We are all human beings together. I could easily go into a monologue about how we are made in the image of God and that our humanity is what sets us aside from other living things and how we are placed on this earth to make a difference but I won’t…

In a coaching conversation both parties are equal partners and share a common aim, that is, to make a change in order to move forward. Both learn from each other during that interaction and both should leave feeling that something has been achieved.

I believe people should have autonomy

Free will sets us aside from other living creatures – yes it’s that monologue creeping in again… Choice is a great motivator but with that come consequences and if we make the choices then we must also be ready to face what will come because of it. Good and bad.

I want to hear what others have to say

In order to hear what others have to say we must remain silent and be fully present.

To 'listen' is to be 'silent'

To ‘listen’ is to be ‘silent’

I don’t judge

This is a hard one. It tends to have negative connotations but actually it is about forming an opinion or coming to a conclusion -so why does that have to be negative? Why then can we not judge for the positive? I may make a judgement on which teachers seem to be making the greatest positive impact on students and choose to collaborate with them into becoming a better educator myself. I choose to learn from them, interact with them and develop my own learning. Essentially I am forming an opinion – I am judging in the positive.

Conversations should be back and forth

Absolutely! Otherwise it’s called a monologue. This is a difficult belief to argue especially after I’ve just said that to listen is to be silent. What this says to me is that while there is a time to be fully present and to listen intently to your coachees, it is just as crucial to reiterate what they have said to let them know that yes you have heard them but also to ensure you heard them correctly. In coaching we do not give solutions, rather, we challenge and allow our coachees to ‘think’.

Coaching isn’t about the coach, it’s about the coachee.

Conversations should be life-giving

The other day I assisted in facilitating a workshop for newly arrived international post-grad students. The session was all about small-talk, polite conversations about all things uncontroversial. Were they life giving? Perhaps. Certainly, they were entertaining to do with little effort on our part, although, I suspect that having to think quickly and transfer the conversation from their own language to English out loud was difficult for our students. It was in the end revitalising and we went away quite pleased with ourselves. It gave them confidence to trial the idea with others during the week – so in a way I have answered my question. Was the small-talk life-giving? I think it may have been.

In terms of coaching the conversations should be such that they allow the coachee to direct their own path. The coaching conversation should allow them to think out loud about where they would like to be and to strategically question them into clarifying their goal. The conversation should then steer towards setting actions that will enable them to reach that goal.

Our Coaching Model

As I type this reflection the newly trained coaches and coachees are trialling our model in a pilot program. It is a program that was developed through collaboration and feedback from staff at the College. We worked hard to alleviate the fears and negative responses to prior experiences with coaching. We wanted to ‘own’ the model and then work together to continuously reflect, plan, act, observe, and evaluate our journey.

Our Coaching Model

Our Coaching Model

As I begin to receive feedback, I am happy to report that things are beginning to take shape, and that coachees are realising the value in coaching conversations. It is great to hear that while there is much work to be done to get everyone on board, the first of our coachees are reaping the benefits already.

Coachee's feedback on pilot program

(a) Coachee’s feedback on pilot program

Coachee's feedback on pilot program

(b) Coachee’s feedback on pilot program










Thanks for reading 🙂

Open the doors #foreverlearners: A made to order coaching model – work in progress

My new favourite term comes from my tweep mate @debsnet, #foreverlearners is just so cool and gives the old ‘life long learners’ term such a new feel and dimension that I’m almost frightened in case I over use it. I hope it doesn’t come to that.

#foreverlearners for the sake of this blog is about opening the doors. Let me give you some context…

life as teacher

Over the last term and a bit I have been working with a small group of colleagues looking at developing a coaching model to suit our needs. The school in question is in its second year of using another model but things aren’t working out as well as expected. Teachers have not quite gelled with it and so as a newby I am aware of the tension and suspicion some some staff feel. It is a confusing program with lots of what seem to be disconnected steps and milestones. Many staff have let it stray and so they no longer see nor understand its purpose, if indeed they did originally understand the WHY, HOW and WHAT.

I have been reading and consulting, tweeting and discussing coaching for a while and learned quite a lot from many research articles, great blogs, great educators and coaches. Here’s what I have so far…

  • Coaching is about change
  • Collaboration in coaching is vital to its success
  • Coaching models need clear objectives and SMART goals
  • Coach and coachee must be motivated to change
  • Coaching is about the teacher as learner first
  • Reflection should be at the centre of any coaching process
  • Coaching is cyclic
  • AITSL offers many great ideas and strategies for developing a coaching model to match the personal needs of any school


Above is my visual developed for what I think could be a successful cyclic model to enable teachers as learners. This is my vision for a coaching model.

Let me elaborate…

“We don’t learn from experience. We learn from reflecting on that experience” John Dewey



What does good teaching look like?

Who will make an appropriate coach for me?

What am I good at?

What things are holding me back or am I avoiding?

What don’t I do that I would really like to do?

What does my student data tell me?


Where am I?Plan

Where would I like to be?

How will I get there?

What do I need to get there?



The action component is a differentiated bricolage of options depending on the objectives and actgoals of coach and coachee. Here anything is possible from videotaping classes, peer observations, keeping a journal in any format – blogging, drawing, sketchnoting, diary, video diary, audio. This is where the action takes place, the hands on application, the action research, collection of data. This is where we begin to create, the time when actual paint hits the canvas and a picture begins to take shape.



And then? What then?


The paint begins to splatter and slowly we stand back one step at a time, have a look, watch our video, listen to our audios, and read our diary. Take another step back and suddenly a picture begins to take shape, observe others learning and teaching, perhaps step forward and add another colour, another shape here and there. Then step back -observe -think and then…



What worked?

What were my challenges?

What do I do now that I didn’t do before?

Where to next?

And so the process begins again…REFLECT…

Thanks for reading 🙂