EDDi Extra: All Ways Coaching

Book Chapter

Dear subscribers

This week’s EDDi Extra is an extract from an exciting new book - All Ways Coaching.

Written by Nick McKie, whose highly popular podcasts we’ve featured previously in EDDi, the book offers tips, strategies and advice for embedding coaching in educational leadership.

Just one of the many plaudits the book is already getting:

"This is a comprehensive and optimistic review of what makes great coaching in schools. A must-read”. Dame Alison Peacock, CEO - Chartered College of Teaching

For those who want to listen to Nick in action, his podcasts are here.

Next week, we return to a ‘traditional’ EDDi digest. Keep an eye on your Inbox.

Happy reading.

EDDi


All Ways Coaching (Extract)


The embryonic stages of my coaching practice were focussed on what I was engaged with.

Had I incorporated all the coaching skills? Had I followed the coaching model correctly? Did my client have a life-changing epiphany?

As I progressed and grew more experienced and comfortable with coaching, the spotlight shifted away from me as coach and onto my coachee’s agenda. It was all about the person I was working with in a more nuanced non-directive way.

The more I coached the more I realised the importance of the context both myself and my clients were working in.

Even within a one-to-one coaching conversation a variety of working and personal contexts can come into play. Throughout my coaching assignments I began to engage with the people around my client a lot more, seeing them as key players in the coaching partnership. For example, when working with a senior leader it was important to glean feedback from a range of stakeholders across the school or group they were working in as well as factoring in their personal landscape. When coaching teachers, the relevance of contact with parents as well as students and staff had to be taken into consideration.

My previous experience has taught me that, in schools, we see change emerging through multiple microsystems and teams. As my coaching experience, training and practice grew so my assumptions were challenged further. I found my coaching skills were not the only area where I was developing; the coaching process itself began to take a back seat as deeper themes began to emerge.

It is through all these experiences I have formulated a blueprint for a coaching evolution culminating in a coaching culture.

All Ways Coaching offers a route map for coaching evolution through three domains. The domains each have subdomains as illustrated on the diagram below:

Fundamental

The Fundamental domain is the first step on the coaching ladder and I have found it the most widely used and well known approach across the education sector. It is concerned with the basic skills, processes and models of coaching in a one-to-one coaching relationship. A typical coaching interaction in this domain will take place in a work environment, whether office or classroom at school.  In this domain you will learn to progress from ‘inheritor’ of skills to ‘enactor’ of coaching, or to put it another way; move from focussing on yourself to focussing on the coachee. By adopting the Fundamental coaching approach you will:

be able to support the coachee by defining goals

come up with solutions and hold the coachee accountable

help people think through things and come up with the answers themselves

Systemic

Recent discussion around systemic approaches to coaching have more emphasis on the context people operate in. The Systemic domain acknowledges that educational contexts are dynamic and unpredictable, stuff is always happening, and people are forever attempting to make sense of change through conversations with each other.

This is about having a broader perspective, looking beyond the individual to the patterns and dynamics at play in your environment.

Each person’s system is made up of different parts, such as family, profession, community, and social context.  When coaching in the Systemic domain, you need to look at people not in a vacuum but rather acknowledging the backdrop to their lives, in order to inform work. That is not to say you should get caught up in their storyline but merely have an appreciation and awareness of their context.

With this in mind, it is wise to acknowledge your own personal experiences outside of your professional life when coaching – these are always integrated in some way shape or form in wider systemic work. In the same way, as a teacher we need to be mindful of the attitude and approach we bring to lessons and as a coach we must reflect on what values we are bringing to the coaching table and not to let these influence our coaching work.

The Systemic domain also requires you to be more reflective and self-aware than in Fundamental ways of coaching.

Transformative

In the Transformative domain, we recognise the limitations of models-based coaching and educational systems as a whole. We collapse hierarchy to focus on the functioning of social networks. This is about developing a coaching presence and ‘being’ rather than a methodology. As previously discussed, in terms of the coaching spectrum and approach, the first two domains place the focus on two things: the belief that the coachee has all the answers (coaching), and the belief that the coach has the answers (mentoring). The diagram above shows the three core domains and their subdomains. The spectrum of the first two domains can, however, be limiting.

You will not reach the Transformative domain without the knowledge and expertise found in the previous domains. The Fundamental and Systemic domains are therefore an apprenticeship into the mastery of the Transformative domain.

In this domain we can begin to move beyond transactional models, goals and solutions to a deeper transformative dialogic agenda. Transformative coaching takes into consideration the multifaceted context of educational settings rather than a linear outlook focussed on the individual or system. It is about being fluid and agile not solid and rigid in approach.

Agility allows for space and creativity to happen.

As a coach in this domain you can provide direction for the conversation and ensure progress is made by entering their own experiences into the dialogue. Coaching in the Transformative domain then challenges the orthodoxy, and indeed the fiction, of impartiality in a coaching partnership.

Your challenge is how to act with principle: drawing out internal values from the coachee, in the context of our own self-knowledge, rather than risk unconsciously imposing your own when unwanted.

All Ways Coaching is available for purchase in paperback and ebook form on Amazon.

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Nicholas McKie

Nicholas McKie is an Associate Professor and Certified Professional Coach. The Director of Persyou, Nicholas specialises in executive coaching and development with leaders across the international education sector.

Website here.