In my last blog “Outside the walls” back in November, I mentioned that I was about to embark on a role as a coach on the Level 4 School Business Professional Apprenticeship Programme (https://isbl.org.uk/Training/Apprenticeship.aspx, https://www.sbmpartnership.org.uk/level-4-sbp-apprenticeship/). Since then, I’ve had two sessions with one coachee, one session with another, and I’m looking forward to meeting my third coachee later this week. Through a separate arrangement, I am also mentoring a colleague in a nearby school.
Finding time to prepare for, carry out, and follow up on these sessions can be a challenge on top of the “day job”, but I am finding these roles really beneficial. Anyone who knows me knows that I am a talker(!), so the opportunity to get out and about to meet with colleagues in a range of school settings, discussing the similarities and differences in the challenges facing us is always going to go down well with me.
Obviously, the primary reason for holding these sessions is so that the coachee/mentee benefits from my input – whether that be using questioning to enable them to find their own solutions to an issue, sharing my knowledge based on an experience I have had, or simply offering an understanding ear to listen to them and empathise with any difficulties they are working through.
However, whilst it is true that supporting people to develop in this way is a huge driver for me, this is not simply an altruistic move on my part (nor is it solely an opportunity to generate income for my school, though that helps too!). A key reason for me to commit the time to this activity is the benefit that I obtain through learning from my coachees/mentee. Even though the focus is on their learning rather than mine, spending time with somebody in a similar role but a totally different context, with a different set of strengths, skills and experiences, inevitably leads to lots of “aha!” moments for me. I invariably come away from each session with a new perspective or idea to try out when back at base.
I have benefitted from being coached in the past (and hopefully will do so again in the future) and so was already a strong advocate of the advantages of receiving coaching as part of your personal development. Time set aside to think, with the support of someone who is removed from the situation, can be such a luxury in the busy environments in which we find ourselves. I am finding that doing the coaching can be just as valuable a learning experience.
If this sounds interesting to you, either to receive some assistance to support your own professional development, or to offer your support to others through coaching, get in touch with firstname.lastname@example.org. ISBL are working on launching a coaching and mentoring programme and they would like to hear from you! I can guarantee that both you and the other half of the coaching relationship – whichever side you find yourself on – will benefit enormously from the experience.