One common misconception of coaching in education is that coaches are needed for teachers and students who are struggling. This is in fact, wrong. Coaching does not necessarily mean that a teacher or a student is weak, coaching is simply recognising that there is a need to learn, to grow and to understand. Everyone needs coaching in some way, and we of course want our teachers to be the very best they can be for all our students.
There are various types of coaching methods that instructional coaches use to help teachers and learners alike. A coach must be able to ask the right questions, actively listen, encourage self-reflection, promote personal resourcefulness, empathise and analyse. By being equipped with these skills, the coach would be able to make a sound judgment on what appropriate method should be used in specific situations.
Strategies like teacher-centred coaching and student-centred coaching are just some of the methods that coaches have in their arsenal. Both coaching strategies are effective and valuable in coaching. Whether the coach chooses to use a teacher-centred or student-centred approach, the instructional coaching cycle remains the same. The steps included are observation, reflection, setting goals and then learning. In this article, we would focus more on teacher-centred coaching.
What is teacher-centred coaching?
To fully understand how this coaching works, let us first determine what teacher-centred learning is. Teacher-centred learning is the traditional or conventional approach wherein the teacher functions as the classroom lecturer. The teacher presents information to the students and the students passively receive the information which the teacher has given them. Teachers have full control over the classroom activities and students always know where to focus their attention. The order in the classroom space is always maintained which results in students being able to focus on the essential key points of the lecture. This also works well for students who prefer to work alone instead of collaborating. However, there would always be a tendency for students to get bored in the middle of a lecture, which is why this method of learning works well when the teacher is skilled in making the lessons as interesting as possible. Here is where a coach could come in handy.
Teacher-centred coaching is a type of coaching strategy which focuses on the actions of teachers in the classroom rather than student-centred coaching which focuses on observing student-level data. In teacher-centred coaching, coaches mainly focus on what the teacher is or isn’t doing. After questioning, careful data collecting and observation, the coach would then be able to suggest more effective ways on how the teacher can maximise student learning. The coach can do this by pointing out strengths and weaknesses. The use of various materials is taken into consideration as well. The coach has to provide specific and appropriate feedback. The teacher still has to take the lead. The teacher has to decide which path to take and which goals have to be met. Do not forget that coaches can only do so much. For the process of coaching to be effective, the teacher has to learn how to find solutions by himself/herself.
Coaches are there to provide assistance, they are not meant to do your job for you.
Among the numerous benefits that a coach can provide to a teacher, the most important would be the emotional support. Teaching is the noblest profession that any individual could have but we cannot deny the fact that sometimes teaching proves to be quite difficult. Coaches are trained to teach educators how to develop emotional resilience. In doing so, even if the teacher experiences the worst day of his/her teaching career, the teacher would always find the motivation to overcome obstacles and continue forward.