“I always get to where I’m going – by walking away from where I’ve been.”
Winnie The Pooh
This time I’m sharing a guest post I wrote recently addressing questions asked by instructional coaches about whether to take notes in coaching sessions. Instructional coaches work with teachers in schools, coaching 1:1 or in groups as well as in the classroom. Whether to take notes or not therefore needs careful thought, with decisions varying according to circumstance.
Most coaches aren’t active in this particular context, but the issues raised need to be considered by any coach in any coaching situation. Therefore I hope what follows is useful for you too!
The guest post first appeared on 27 March 2018 under the title ‘Should Coaches Take Notes During Visits?’ on The LaunchPad – the official blog of TeachBoost (a US organisation providing a customisable instructional leadership platform).* You can see the original publication here.
Coaching is an intriguing occupation. There’s usually not a straightforward answer to any question, however simple it may seem. For example, taking notes in coaching sessions—some people say you should; some people say you shouldn’t; while others say maybe you should, maybe you shouldn’t, depending on the context.
How often in conversation with another coach do you find the subject moving to coachees who don’t do what they know they ought to do? It’s happened to me quite often. In a previous post I considered the proposition “What if… coachees were coaches?” and in some ways what I’m going to say today continues on that theme. We all know we’re supposed to believe that coachees have within themselves the answers to their problems, but somehow our keeping hold of that insight gets swamped by ‘interference’…
What do I mean?
Coaching is in many ways more about how a coach deals with his or her own baggage than it is about the coachee. One function of a coach is to hold up that mirror to coachees which helps them perceive themselves in perspective. But what if the coach isn’t really holding up a mirror at all? What if the coach has unwittingly substituted his or her own image?
I’ve written before about how coaching is at bottom based on the fundamental insight that coachees are experts vis-à-vis their own issues – even though they may not yet be fully aware of the fact or able independently to access their ‘wisdom’.
The other day I found myself musing on what this might mean as far as the coaching relationship is concerned. We know that part of the coaching role is to facilitate coachees in accessing their ‘wisdom’. But what riches might coachees themselves be bringing to the table, that we coaches may not yet have acknowledged?
We’ve looked in a previous post at some aspects of what coaching isn’t. Let’s start to look at what it is.
As I see it, John Whitmore had it about right when he said in an interview that coaching is: “a way of seeing people.” * It’s the implications of this short but deceptively simple phrase that I want to consider today.
The core of coaching At the heart of coaching is the belief on the part of the coach, that individuals have within themselves the resources necessary for developing their expertise beyond their current level of competency. Read that sentence again slowly and really think about what it means in practical as well as philosophical terms.
We’re describing a “way of seeing” and a way of interacting between the individuals in coaching relationships, which have at their core infinite respect for the integrity, wisdom and ability of coachees, at least in relation to their own issues and affairs. Without this crucial attitude being in place, no genuine coaching can take place.