Looking at resilience – My ‘Backchat’ article for ARC Magazine

This time I’m sharing with you an interview article about me and my work round resilience, published following a workshop entitled ‘Building Resilience in a Complex World’ which I presented in July 2019 for the North West branch of the Archives & Records Association (ARA) here in the UK.

Cultivating resilience is a key skill for all of us in these increasingly complex times, particularly those who, like archives and records professionals, often work in relative isolation. My workshop focused on looking at what resilience is, how we can gain insight into our ‘inner self’ and how it influences the way we react to our world, and practical tools that can help us build resilience, supporting us towards reacting skilfully in the moment when we are feeling stressed.

Following the workshop, I was asked to contribute to the ARA’s ‘Backchat…’ article in order that aspects of my approach could be disseminated more widely amongst those who had been unable to attend. The article first appeared in the September 2019 issue of the ARC Magazine, published by the ARA. You can see the original publication here (see pp9-10), and the copyright is mine.


Dr Alison Newby – historian and coach – talks to ARC Editor Matti Watton about how she came to be involved professionally in ‘personal resilience’ and some tips on how to recognise and begin to manage stress in the workplace. (© Dr Alison Newby)

Hi Alison. Could you tell us a little about yourself and where you work?

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Extending our range of coaching gifts with the “Spectrum of Coaching Skills”

This time I’m sharing a guest post I wrote a little while ago concerning the variety of coaching ‘gifts’ coaches may bring to their work. Some coaching skills come more naturally to some individuals than others, and here I explore a way of structuring our approach to extending our range of ‘gifts’ beyond what we may naturally feel comfortable with.

The ‘Spectrum of Coaching Skills’ places our natural ‘gifts’ on a continuum ranging from more to less directive forms of interaction with our coachees. By thinking about where our strengths lie on this spectrum, we are enabled to gain awareness that leads to insight into areas we need to develop to improve the range of our abilities as coaches. We are then empowered to develop strategies to build those abilities in areas that we find difficult.

Spectrum of colours mosaicThe guest post first appeared in Coaching World in September 2018, published by the International Coach Federation (ICF). You can see the original publication here, and I’d like to point out that copyright is held by the ICF (meaning it should not be reproduced or reblogged without gaining permission from the ICF first).

Extending Our Range of Coaching Gifts with the “Spectrum of Coaching Skills”

Coaches have different personalities and styles, meaning they bring a variety of approaches and “gifts” to their coaching work. All of us find certain coaching skills come more naturally to us than others. That’s fine, except when we allow our “natural” range of gifts to limit the ways in which we can work with clients.

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Encouraging coach self-care through an “I’m OK, You’re OK” stance

This time I’m sharing a guest post I wrote not long ago concerning how coach self-care can be encouraged through a novel application of the “I’m OK, You’re OK” stance familiar from Transactional Analysis. We usually try to apply such a stance when dealing with our coachees, endeavouring to bring a non-judgemental compassion to our relationships. Yet many of us are rarely so non-judgemental or compassionate with ourselves.

Here I suggest that we can take care of ourselves better as coaches if we learn to approach ourselves as if we were someone we were coaching. By tapping into the best of what we bring to our coaching relationships, we begin to be able to non-judgmentally acknowledge and accept our own frailties, treating ourselves kindly for having tried our best.

Self care umbrella

The guest post first appeared in Coaching World in August 2018, published by the International Coach Federation (ICF). You can see the original publication here, and I’d like to point out that copyright is held by the ICF (meaning it should not be reproduced or reblogged without gaining permission from the ICF first).

Encouraging Coach Self-care through an “I’m OK, You’re OK” Stance

As coaches, our aim is to maintain a compassionate “I’m OK, You’re OK” stance with our clients. We respect their “wisdom” as well as their ability to dig deep (with our help) to find the appropriate solutions for their particular needs. We bring a non-judgmental attention to those with whom we’re working. Yet, do we bring the same compassionate stance and non-judgmental attention to ourselves?

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Should academics engage with coaching?

This time I’m sharing an opinion article I wrote recently for Times Higher Education looking at why academics tend not to engage with coaching, suggesting reasons why they should. Stress and mental health issues amongst staff and students are rife at the moment in higher education institutions (HEIs), with the situation only getting worse. It’s my belief that the confidential non-judgemental space provided by coaching could give hard-pressed individuals an outlet they can’t otherwise find, where they can explore their concerns and strategise ways forward before their mental state begins to deteriorate.

Artistic faceHere in the northern hemisphere we’re moving towards the short dark days of winter, when the first semester of the academic year can seem to drag on and on. For many this is exactly the time when everything seems to be at its gloomiest. My article first appeared in the THE Magazine on 22 November 2018 under the title ‘Let the coach take the strain’, and you can see the original publication here. I’m hoping it might prompt academic colleagues across the world to consider what good coaching has to offer. If it dispels some of the myths and misconceptions which prevent many from recognising the value of coaching, I’ll consider my work well done.

Should academics engage with coaching?

Report after report points to worsening mental health among academics across the world. In the UK, stress has got so bad that one individual tragically took his own life earlier this year after being asked to mark 418 exam papers within a 20-day period.

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Coaching advanced teachers

This time I’m sharing a guest post I wrote recently addressing questions asked by instructional coaches about how to approach coaching ‘advanced’ teachers. Instructional coaches are experienced teachers in their own right who have changed focus to facilitate the professional development of other teachers, coaching them 1:1 or in groups as well as in the classroom. Being faced with coaching very experienced teachers can be daunting, especially when an instructional coach is new to the coaching role.

Many readers may not be active coaches in this particular context, but the issues raised concerning confidence in our coaching role and skills are relevant to any coach in any coaching situation. Therefore I hope what follows is useful for you too!

The guest post first appeared on 9 October 2018 on The LaunchPad – the official blog of TeachBoost (a US organisation providing a customisable instructional leadership platform).* You can see the original publication here.

TeachBoost Coach's Toolbox image

Image courtesy Schoolbinder, Inc

Do your confidence levels plummet when you’re faced with coaching a truly awe-inspiring “advanced” teacher? Does it make you begin to question what added value you as an instructional coach can bring? Uncomfortable as it may feel, working with senior, expert, veteran, or more knowledgeable teachers is a great starting point for assessing and reassessing why we’re doing what we’re doing. When we’ve thought it through, we might be equipped to approach coaching advanced teachers in a more constructive, creative way.

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