Coaching for learning…

Do you set the bar high and constantly seek to improve your practice?

Men pole vault French Athletics Championships 2013 t154951

It’s a privilege to work in a school with a strong learning culture, where teachers’ professional learning is valued and new opportunities for further learning and growth are constantly being sought.

The latest initiative is a one-on-one coaching model, providing opportunities for teachers to engage in reflective conversations about teaching and learning, set goals, analyse evidence and take action to enhance their practice.

It’s an approach that meshes well with our beliefs about how learning takes place, our determination to abandon ‘one size fits no-one’ PD and our commitment to teachers having choice in their professional learning.

We’re just beginning the journey, reading a great deal, thinking, talking and making connections to whole school goals as well as our learning principles.

We’ve had some engaging conversations with inspiring, passionate educators already implementing different models in their schools. Thanks Cameron Paterson for your initial insights and for introducing us to Chris Munro, who we now feel is part of our team!

Interestingly, our conversations with Chris (and Helen!) and with Maggie Hos McGrane, who are approaching coaching in different ways, for different purposes, using different models, highlighted the same big ideas. They even used similar language, gave similar examples and quoted similar success stories!

These are some of the common threads pulled from conversations with those generous educators…

A constructive approach to improving practice.

Coaching is non judgemental, not tied to evaluation or appraisal. It’s about teachers choosing to improve their practice, through goal setting, observation and one-on-one reflective conversation.

Listening is a key element

Coaching is about LISTENING, not about TELLING. It’s like inquiry teaching… Listen to where the learner (teacher) is at and ask questions that help them figure out where to go next. The coach needs to get rid of their ‘internal dialogue’ – It’s not about you!

Protected Time

Coaching provides a legitimate opportunity for ‘me time’, in which the coachee can talk about themselves and their practice as much they like. What a luxury in terms of professional learning.

Evidence based

Coaching is grounded in evidence. From the first conversation, it’s about noticing and naming what the coachee is feeling, followed by gathering of agreed data through planned observation, to seeking evidence that change has taken place. How will the teacher know she has been successful? How is student learning impacted?


If there’s no action, there is no point in coaching. What happens as a result of the reflective conversations? What do teachers do? How does practice change? How is learning affected?

Have you implemented coaching at your school? How have you approached it? Has it been successful? Do you have ideas to add to those above?

One thought on “Coaching for learning…

  1. Hi Edna
    Have just been reading Jim Knight – Instructional coaching (IMPACT). seems very much in-line with your approach. Talks about the Big 4 and also 7 steps to Partnership coaching and support.


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