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The way of being that makes a difference


Coaching can have such a positive impact in schools. Many people can remember an educator who has had a lasting, positive impact on them. Usually, it is a favourite teacher, a supportive teaching assistant or the encouraging sports coach.

Coaching can have such a positive impact in schools. Many people can remember an educator who has had a lasting, positive impact on them. Usually, it is a favourite teacher, a supportive teaching assistant or the encouraging sports coach.

But what is it about this kind of person that leaves a long-term positive impression? Maybe this person “believed in me when I was going through a tough time”. Or perhaps that person “saw something in me that no one else could see”. 


Invariably, this person is rarely remembered for what they taught—more often they are remembered for the positive impact they had on others.

For me, that person was Donald Corsette, my sixth grade teacher. He was kind to me. And, crucially for me, he thought I could do well at school. I remember that. He was humorous too. And he seemed to care about whether I did well or not. What he said to me, the "information", is hazy.

Considering the lifelong impact such a person can have, they tend to be humble. They seem more interested in the success of others than in their own reputation or standing. They are curious about their students. They show genuine interest in students and treat them with respect. They believe that their students have enormous potential. These qualities, or ways of interacting with others, form the basis for what I have termed a "way of being". I describe this term, which I have borrowed from Carl Rogers, in my book An Introduction to Coaching Skills: A Practical Guide. For me, effective coaching requires knowledge of certain skills and familiarity with a conversational process—but those two things are not enough.

What seems to make the crucial difference in coaching effectiveness is the "way of being" of the coach. This may raise important challenges for those of us interested in encouraging more coaching interventions and the creation of coaching cultures in educational settings.

  • Can this "way of being" be taught?
  • What can each of us do to better understand how we are experienced by others?
  • How can we ensure that we are focusing on the potential of our coachees rather than on what we perceive as weaknesses?

Remember, that person we're thinking about can have a significant positive impact on the self-esteem and self-belief of others. That person can inspire motivation and self-confidence. Aren't these the kind of things that we want for our young people? Aren’t these the kinds of things you want for the people that you lead and coach?

If the answer is "yes", be that person.

References:

  • van Nieuwerburgh, C. (2014) An Introduction to Coaching Skills: A Practical Guide. London: Sage.
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