Pilgrims offer a brand new course: Coaching Skills for Teachers 2nd July – 15th August 2009
From Teaching to Coaching
Bonnie Tsai, France
Bonnie Tsai is a teacher and teacher trainer who has worked around the world running teacher training courses for teachers of all ages, levels, and needs. She has been trained in such humanistic approaches such as Suggestopedia, N.L.P. and Psychodramaturgie Lingusitque. She has studied the theory and practice of Multiple Intelligence with Dr. Howard Gardner at Harvard University. Long time Pilgrims trainer.
E-mail : firstname.lastname@example.org
Out beyond the field of right doing and wrong doing, I am willing to meet you there
The world today is demanding that we make gigantic leaps in flexibility and adaptability. We need qualities and inner resources we never imagined would be necessary. As teachers, it is no longer enough just to facilitate, we need qualities of teaching so that our students can make the kind of complex changes that will be necessary. We need to influence people so that they are able to meet unexpected situations like challenge, change and crisis. We need skills that allow our students to learn quickly and to know where to go and find what they need, and then, how to use it once they have found it so that they can embrace what is happening in their lives. Perhaps most of all-we need self-knowledge. And how all our learning and teaching is connected to our own deep human values. We need to be-even as teachers-perpetual learners. The question should always be, what am I learning while my students are learning? “How can I be less of a teacher and more of a coach?”
Coaching is based on two important premises; the first one is that learning a class of behavior as opposed to a particular behavior and the second is creating a new kind of relationship so that new capacities can be created which will offer the possibility of becoming something different and greater than anything we had before.
In coaching, a system of trust is created in which people are free to create the relationship they need. Controlling the system, a tactic often used by teachers, is not the aim. Rather we should increase intuition about how the system works in order to harmonize and work with it instead of against it.
What qualities are needed by a coach?
The intension has to be to connect. It is not what you want for yourself, but finding out what the student wants. So, the first quality is empathic listening. It is about enabling students to speak their truth. The second quality is honesty. Enabling the student to speak honestly and allowing you the coach to give honest feedback that helps the student move forward and not destroy or just “sugar coat”. Finally, the coach needs infinite kindness and consideration which comes from the heart. The coach needs to be there to celebrate the successes and dissolve the difficulties. There is a feeling from the beginning that the coach and the student are in it together to achieve a desired outcome...
There seems to be four steps in the coaching process:
- Observation: Words are important, but what you really need are your eyes and you ears. The real information you need when coaching comes from what you see and feel.
- Feel: So much of teaching as we know it now is based on logic and rational thinking. Coaching is about being in touch with your intuition and your feelings. It is your feelings and intuition which will guide you through a coaching session. Often the student is saying, “No” when he means “yes”. The coach needs to “guess” what the other person is actually feeling or thinking. This is where intuition comes into play.
- To acquire change there has to be a consideration for the emotional side of the person being coached. Often the student is finding out things about himself that he didn’t know before. This is of course enlightening but also sometimes really painful. The coach has be prepared for consequences of these discoveries.
- Need: In many ways this is the key to coaching. What are the student’s needs? Are these needs appropriate and are they within the capabilities of the student?
- Do the students believe on a deep sub-conscious level that they deserve what they want?
- Leadership: What could the student do to achieve this outcome? How can I lead him/her/them towards this outcome?
The group you will be coaching will need some skills-very often new ones that will lead them to where they want to go.
- The first skill is pre-contemplation. The student has to think about what he wants. He has to make preparations for the change that will happen if he makes the change. He will have to be able to weight out the pros and the cons of what he wants. The coach will need leadership qualities in guiding the student through these deliberations.
- There is always some type of personal evolution involved for the student. It has been said that by the age of seven we have written our life’s story. We have decided what is going to happen because of what we have experienced. There is something holding us back from moving towards what we want. It could be leaving a safe, comfort zone, it could be fear, it could be a lack of belief in self, or perhaps anxiety that we are on the wrong path and might make a mistake. Since beliefs are established early in life, we become passive to our own potentials. Here the student will be asked to explore these potentials and overcome the beliefs which limit them. Out of the awareness of these limiting beliefs we can change “our life’s script”.Of course, courage and integrity will be needed to overcome these beliefs which freeze us. There are too many “shoulds” and “shouldn’t’s” to overcome and the coach is there to supply a support system during this journey.
- The end result is to become a new kind of person, who has learnt how to take responsibility. There is an awareness of “Who I am” as opposed to “Who I know I can be”. The coach isn’t there to give advice during this phase. Coaches know when and how to step back and let people grow.
One tool the coach will use to communicate is the metaphor. Metaphor is a way we structure the interconnections of our mind. This is a symbolic way of expressing how we do different things or have different internal experiences. By definition a metaphor is a way of understanding and explaining experiences in terms of something else. It allows us the privilege of taking complex and complicated experiences and tying them up into neat, compact packages.
An example of how a metaphor might be used is to ask the student to think about learning in terms of an apple. So the question would be: “When you are learning at your best, it is like what kind of an apple?”. This kind of question opens the student up to think about learning in a new way. It can help the student to gain insight into his own learning style and at the same time give the coach understanding about how the student is processing his own beliefs about learning. The coach will be listening for the kind of metaphoric language the student might be using. Examples of this might be the student who uses language like, “Push myself”, “push back the boundaries”, “be close to a solution”, “make time”, “make someone else happy” , and so on. The choice of spatial words should be taken literally by the coach. They give her clues as to how to act accordingly because they are the reality of the student’s mind.
Another way we could work with a student is to ask the question: “What’s it like when you are learning at your best?”. The student gestures non-verbally to the place where learning successfully is. In other words the student is using symbols as to the space “learning best” is located.
Coaches might also ask the student to draw a picture as an answer to the same question.
Very often the student will put something in his picture that he didn’t know himself and so didn’t mention when he was talking about learning.The picture allows the sub-conscious mind to speak.
A word that often comes up in conversation between the coach and the students is “OBSTACLE”. Any kind of change or movement towards something new involves challenges and obstacles. Life is one of the best schools and if we believe we have a mission on this journey called life, we need to stop resisting and embrace the obstacle in order to overcome it. The questions the coach will ask are: “What does overcoming this obstacle give you?” and “What do you need to overcome this obstacle?”. Once the student has answered these two questions, he can find alternative means of action in order to obtain his goal.
Please check the Coaching Skills for Teachers course at Pilgrims website.
Please check the NLP for Teachers course at Pilgrims website.