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IF ONLY I COULD TALK WITH SOMEBODY AT SCHOOL! – Creating a Coaching Culture in your school.

Just somebody who I could meet with regularly and talk about my aspirations, my challenges and how I am going. This would make so much of a difference in my personal and professional life.” 

How many times have you heard this or thought it yourself? With the often complicated, multitasking and always busy life of a teacher or administrator in a school we all need a mentor or a coach; just somebody to talk to who perhaps isn’t necessarily our supervisor or manager. Moreover, somebody who we trust and have a great rapport with that will listen to us openly, not try to solve our problems, but to share a ‘coffee conversation’ with, offer different perspectives – to coach us. Working in teaching, education, education leadership and coaching for several years in schools with teachers, education leaders and aspiring education leaders; creating a coaching culture in your school is becoming more popular.

WHY? – because it is providing a forum for teachers to share and talk about all sorts of things to do with their own personal and professional journey. Not necessarily aligned to their department goals, their school goals, the next curriculum review, for example, but essentially just an opportunity to talk about themselves; welcoming the opportunity to be coached and mentored in their career, in their life? Having a coaching culture in your school can be priceless, encouraging personal dialogue resulting in many experiencing great success and fulfillment in their teaching or leadership role.

So how does a school start – 5 basic steps to open the coaching conversation in your school.


Firstly leaders need to know and understand what coaching is – how it can make a difference to the effectiveness of the organization and then be clear about what their culture will look like as they consider establishing a coaching culture. The process of coaching is about having clarity of goals. It starts with the Why? Talk to the staff, describe how the process might work in your school – transparency in explanation, transparency in the why = trust around the process.

The concept of starting with the why has been in conversations around personal and professional development conversations since the 1980’s. More recently it was re-visited by Simon Sinek in his Ted Talk ‘How Great Leaders Inspire Action (Start with Why)’ encourages us with the idea that ‘People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it’ – You need to start by asking yourself – what’s the purpose behind having coaching in your school? A starting point to understand coaching might be the experience of coaching – encourage your school leaders to have a coach, so they can experience it’s benefits first hand.

Being able to describe a clear vision is key and helps bring others on board. There may be naysayers and skeptics in your school. As leaders you need to be crystal clear on the direction coaching will take the school and the benefits it will bring.


There needs to be a school community culture of openness and professionalism if coaching is to make a real difference. This is not a quick fix. If honesty, integrity, openness, professional conversations and the ‘confidence’ to make mistakes are the mainstay of the school philosophy then coaching will bear much fruit by adding to the good practice already in place. 

Timothy Gallwey in the introduction to the book Leadership Coaching states that “Creating an environment that minimises judgement is one of the central attributes of successful coaching. Because coaching takes place in the domain of the inner, the unique human gifts of compassion, kindness and clarity are required in greater degrees than are normally expected…”

If the conditions are right, people will want to coach and to be coached; it adds to shared accountability and shared successes. Simply you trust the process and you trust each other. Yes, there needs to be ‘buy in’.


There does need to be interest, if not from everyone initially, then by ‘key players’. Leadership teams need to be coaching each other both formally and by having those informal coaching conversations. These conversations will be challenging, and also create clarity and direction. 


Developing a coaching culture needs to be like any other idea being introduced into your school – it needs a plan. Do you have any coaches currently in your school? Do you want to make it a priority and choose to train staff as coaches? This is an expensive undertaking. A way to start maybe by identifying some coaches in your community or in your school already first that you could ask if they could provide this service. Maybe they are certified coach-trainers as well and could help you initiate a coaching culture initially by offering some training, coaching or mentoring? You never know unless you ask the questions. Always have the core vision and the outcomes clearly in view, why you want the outcomes you want and how to achieve them.


Try coaching and mentoring with some staff who are already searching for a coach. Ask and you will likely find interested colleagues. Throughout the process, note what goes well. Celebrate achievement of goals, noting how the journey that the person being coached has been on and the learning that has taken place. Celebrate successes as they become points of personal and professional reflection and review.

To empower teachers and student leaders across the education sector, helping people to discover their motivational drivers, needs and values and build the skills to motivate, inspire and energise others is my mission. I am committed to engaging people to maximise their leadership abilities and impact the lives of others to create real and positive change. As a Global Thought Leader, Education Leadership Coach and International Keynote Speaker, I have elevated teachers, administrators and students to embrace change, unleash their potential and achieve their ultimate breakthrough performance. Ask Craig

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