3 things we can do to stop feeling guilty when we can’t coach

We all know there are times when we really aren’t in the right place to give a coaching session. Perhaps we’re ill, or in the middle of a personal crisis. Or maybe we’re genuinely inundated with other things that we can’t put off or delegate to anyone else. But what if despite knowing this we’re the kind of individual that still feels guilty? What if we just can’t let go of that feeling we really ought to go ahead or we’ll be letting our coachees down?

Crying easter eggIt’s bread and butter for us to help our coachees recognise when it’s time to call a halt to something they’re fixated on needing to do. We use our coaching skills to call them out and to raise their awareness of the psychological blocks and filters which can lead to such fixations in the first place. But we may find it difficult to recognise when our own psychological blocks and filters are kicking in.

This time I’ll take a look at why we may feel guilty when we’re not in the right place to give our coaching sessions, and suggest three ways we can help ourselves to deal with this situation.

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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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Are we really communicating with our coachees?

Do you think you’re communicating during coaching conversations? The obvious answer would be yes. After all, coaching certainly involves a lot of talking, hopefully the greater proportion of it by the coachee. But does the mere fact that two people are talking to each other (one of whom is a coach) mean we’re actually communicating?

 2 Silhouettes with thought bubblesPut that way, the answer might not be so obvious after all. I’ve written elsewhere about the importance of listening and effective questioning in coaching. There’s no doubt that without high-level listening and questioning skills, a coach isn’t going to get very far. But is there more to communication than even that?

Here I’m going to take a closer look at the attitudes and assumptions that drive the use of those skills. What do we mean by communication? And how can we make our communication better?

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