Monday, 5 August 2013

Coaching and Mentoring in ELT

This was the title of the sixth in a series of monthly CPD webinars hosted by the British Council.  You can read more about the programme here.

This webinar was presented by Loraine Kennedy and what follows is a summary of what she had to say.

Loraine began by giving us some definitions:


'Coaching is a developmental process by which an individual gets support while learning to achieve a specific personal or professional result or goal.'


'Mentoring is a means of providing support, challenge and extension of the learning of one person through the guidance of another, who is more skilled, knowledgeable and experienced, particularly in relation to the context in which the learning is taking place.'
                                                          Andrew Pollard, Reflective Teaching

Distinction between coaching and mentoring

  • Coaches use questioning and listening techniques to bring out the full potential of the individual, whereas mentors act as advisors, suggesting new paths for the individual to take.
  • To mentor effectively, you must possess an in-depth appreciation and knowledge of the subject on which you are advising.
  • Often the relational positions of mentor and individual being mentored are equivalent to that of teacher and student.
  • In a coaching event, the positional relationship is on a par as the coach's role is to create an environment for the individual to learn for themselves.
  • A mentor is often an expert working with a novice.
  • A coach is more for experienced people - they explore ideas together, but the individual comes to a realisation themselves.
Spectrum of coaching styles
A mentor is more likely to be at the directive end of the coaching spectrum, but non-directive styles are much more powerful and the learning gained is much more likely to stick.
Questions to ask
  • Does your organisational culture support coaching?
  • Are you part of a learning organisation?
  • To what extent does your organisation support the growth of individuals?
  • Does your organisation believe in collaboration?
  • Does your organisation allow enough time for coaching to take place?
  • What needs to change to allow the process of coaching and mentoring to thrive?
If you have the right environment, then coaching and mentoring can happen.

Coaching and mentoring situations in ELT
  • Professional development plans
  • Giving feedback on an observation
  • Resolving work problems - fostering team spirit and maintaining individual morale
  • Managing change
  • Enhancing team effectiveness
  • Counselling students on their progress and learning objectives
Qualities of an effective coach
  • Patience
  • Enthusiasm
  • Honesty and integrity, including confidentiality and trust
  • Friendliness
  • Genuine concern for others
  • Self confidence
  • Fairness
  • Consistency
  • Flexibility
  • Resourcefulness
Skills and abilities
  • Communicating, especially listening
  • Questioning
  • Analysing
  • Summarising
  • Setting goals and objectives
  • Establishing appropriate priorities
  • Giving and receiving feedback
  • Relating to people at all levels
  • Planning and organising
Underlying principles of being a coach
  1. Ensure you fully understand what coaching is - What is coaching as opposed to mentoring?  What is coaching as opposed to managing?  Be clear about when and why you're coaching.
  2. Check your perspective on people - you always have to see the potential in people.  If you're dwelling on their past mistakes, or thinking that they're 'no-hopers', then you're not in the right frame of mind to be that person's coach.  You have to always be thinking about the coachee's strengths and how best to move him or her forward.
  3. Learn and practise an effective coaching model - start out with a coaching model, but don't feel restricted by it.
  4. Engage your boss - everyone in the organisation has to have bought in to the coaching idea.
  5. Understand and value personality differences - we know that everyone's different and has different motivations.  We know that everyone is at a different stage of their career development.  We must value this and take each coachee from their own starting point.
  6. Prioritise your time and stay focussed - time allocated for a coaching situation needs to be used for coaching!
  7. Stop putting out fires - don't do things for your coachee!  Create a consciousness about being responsible for yourself.  A coach helps, but doesn't do!
  8. Seek regular feedback - feedback should be given and received!
  9. Listen, listen, listen!
  10. Keep growing and developing - when you are a coach, you need a coach!! You'll be a better coach when you are being coached.  Things are constantly changing.  You never reach the finish line.
  11. Be fully prepared - you always need to know where you got to in the last coaching session and how you're going to move forward.
  12. Focus on progression, not punishment - what about the ones who don't want to progress?  What about the ones who've lost motivation?  If handled well, coaching can appeal to everyone.  It's about moving forward, not looking back.
  13. Use the right questions
  14. Remember that the coachee knows the answer already - if you keep quiet or explore the options with the coachee, it's amazing how many times they will come up with the answers themselves.
  15. Break down big goals into little steps
  16. There is no right and wrong - there are many rights!  My right may be different to yours, but both are equally valid.
  17. Maintain forward momentum - keep focussed on solving problems.
  18. Be a good coachee!
Ground rules for being a coach within a coaching relationship
  • Clarify the purpose of the coaching relationship from the start.
  • Set and agree the objectives for each 'coaching conversation'.
  • Be honest.
  • Build your understanding of the coachee's world - what stage of their career are they at?  How is their home situation?
  • Build your understanding of the coachee's relationships - how do they fit into the team?  Do they get support from their family/their friends/their colleagues?
  • Insist on action.
  • Insist on accountability.
Peer coaching
  • Identify a partner you trust and who trusts you.
  • Ensure that both of you want to learn.
  • Set a schedule for conversations.
  • Each identify their learning objectives.
  • Divide the time between coaching and being coached equally.
  • Strive for objectivity, not empathy - empathy is important, but you need to be frank and honest.
  • Avoid moaning and grumbling.
  • Focus on positive action.
  • Agree to hold each other accountable.
Tools and models
1. ADKAR change management model
It is important that the steps are carried out in the order shown.
2. GROW model of coaching
This is a good model to start with.
3.  Achieve coaching model
4. Reflective practice

5. High level listening skills
  • Intend to understand
  • Pay close attention
  • Defer judgement
  • Explore for deeper meaning and understanding
  • Concentrate
  • Don't interrupt inappropriately
  • Get inside the other person's frame of reference
  • Listen with your eyes and mind, not just your ears
  • Listen for meaning and feelings
  • Beware of your body language signals
Avoid being patronising
  • Find out what the other person knows and feels, don't presume.
  • Understand the person's character and style of working and respond appropriately.
  • Be careful with words and expressions that can be interpreted negatively and watch the tone of your voice.
  • Don't insult someone's intelligence even if they don't know something you know - don't make them feel small.
  • Avoid using suggestion questions - e.g. don't you think you should answer the phone?
  • Withhold unsolicited advice - wait to be asked or ask if you can make a suggestion.
  • 'Coaching Questions: a Coach's Guide to Powerful Asking Skills' by Tony Stoltzfus available here.
  • '101 Coaching Strategies and Techniques' edited by Gladeana McMahon and Anne Archer (Routledge)
  • 'The Manager's Coaching Toolkit' by David Allamby (Pearson Business)
  • 'Coaching for Performance: Growing Human Potential and Purpose' by John Whitmore (Nicholas Brealey Publishing)
  • 'Reflective Teaching' by Andrew Pollard

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