ACEL National Conference Workshop

Last week I had the privilege of presenting a workshop at the ACEL National Conference with my colleague Jason Pascoe. Here’s the workshop abstract and materials. Please leave a comment if you’d like to discuss our approach further.

Coaching cultures should motivate individuals and facilitate cooperation, collaboration and connection within the organization and with its external stakeholders (Gormley and van Nieuwerburgh, 2014). In schools, a coaching approach to conversations about learning should become part of an organisation’s “way of being”.

When speaking to school leaders about the initiators and drivers of coaching in their contexts, they invariably refer to the conditions that existed before coaching was introduced. These antecedent conditions are the norms, practices and prevalent discourse that may enable or inhibit the rate of development and adoption of coaching. (Munro, C., Barr, M. and van Nieuwerburgh, C. (forthcoming)). These will be different in every school and even in different contexts within a school.

This workshop used a series of short coaching conversations to explore the contextual enablers and inhibitors to establishing a new organisational way of being, or culture. These conversations enabled participants to ‘respect the past’, by identifying the antecedent conditions that will support progress; ‘lead the present’, by identifying opportunities for coaching approaches in their immediate context; and ‘secure the future’ by committing to next steps towards establishing a coaching culture for learning.

Our slides and handout worksheet can be downloaded here.


#educoachOC Chat 22: Metaphors for Coaching

Blog to accompany last months #educoachOC twitter chat. Contains some links to further reading.


In this month’s chat we’d like to try something a little different and explore our metaphors for coaching.

The use of metaphor within coaching conversations can be a powerful way of helping the coachee to gain insight into their challenge and clarity around what they would like to be different going forward. Often, a coachee will use a metaphor when discussing their situation and the astute coach will pick this up and run with it. Leaders in particular, will use metaphors such as “drowning in admin” or “the pot boiling over” to describe their workload. In talking about their roles, they will often use a metaphor such as “steering a ship” or having a “view from the bridge”, or taking a “balcony view” of what’s going on. These can be very fruitful territory for the coach to tease out with the coachee. Recently I had a conversation with a newly…

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My “new” role and my blogging/writing

You may have noticed (or not!) that I haven’t blogged here for quite some time. Well, today I finally got around to updating my “about me” page as follows:

In 2017, I took up a full-time position as Senior Consultant with Growth Coaching International (GCI). In this exciting new role I provide coaching, and facilitate coaching training programs, for educators across Victoria and beyond. 

Any specific reference to GCI programs on this blog prior to me joining the company were based on my own direct experience as a participant in their training programs. This is a personal blog and is not endorsed or sponsored by GCI. For this reason, most of my writing about coaching is now done slightly more formally here and in other education publications.

This means that I’m no longer a teacher (although I think I’ll probably always be a teacher) and I’m now an education consultant. I am acutely aware of the privileged position that I now get to occupy. My new role allows me to make a different kind of positive impact on teacher development, school communities and, ultimately, student learning. Coaching gives me an honoured insight into the professional worlds of so many educators, and facilitation allows me to pass on my knowledge and experience of something that has become my “thing” – coaching in education. The learning is always reciprocal.

I’ll continue to share my writing by posting links here for the time being and I may still do the occasional reflective piece but this is proving to be a luxury that I can’t find the time for at the moment. Maybe I need some coaching on that….

Thanks for your support and encouragement on the journey so far.

Best wishes,


#educoachOC Chat 17: Coaching as a Gift


During previous chats, we have asked for suggestions for topics that people would like to discuss. This month we’ll be discussing one of those topics – how to coach resistant teachers. Some may consider the answer to this question to be a very simple one: you can’t and shouldn’t! As with most questions in education the answer more likely starts with “well, it depends…”. The topic, phrased in this way, raises lots of questions about how coaching is envisioned, presented and enacted in any given school. It may also raise questions about intent – of both those designated to coach and those initiating it – and perception – of those on the ‘receiving end’ of it. The notion of coaching ‘resistant’ teachers undoubtedly also raises issues of power and trust. What, or who, are they resisting and why?

Some of these questions and issues may…

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#educoachOC Chat 13: Thinking Critically about Coaching


We initiated the #educoachOC chat in September 2015 in an attempt to convene a professional learning community for anyone with an interest in coaching in education and with the aim of seeking shared understandings of the definitions, uses and impacts of coaching in education contexts.

In this month’s chat we’d like to explore some issues and questions that have emerged as coaching and coaching approaches have gained momentum in schools.

When each of us talks about coaching in our own context we don’t often talk about what sits behind our own implementation story. Coaching is not the only strategy employed to support the growth of teachers and leaders, and not all conversations are coaching conversations! Equally, when our stories and opinions are shared with others, how they ‘land’ and are interpreted by others in different contexts might depend, to some degree, on that person’s associations, perceptions, beliefs and past experiences.

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#educoachOC Chat 12: A Coaching Way of Being


Our next #educoachOC chat will explore the notion of ‘a coaching way of being’.

The phrase “way of being” in the context of one-to-one relationships originates in the work of psychologist Carl Rogers (1980) whose ‘person-centred’ theories remain at the root of coaching today.

Christian van Nieuwerburgh (2014) presents three elements of effective coaching as shown in the diagram below. (This version was adapted for a previous blog post to distinguish between the components that come into play in formal coaching conversations and a coaching ‘style’ of conversation).


A coaching way of being could be thought of as the difference between doing coaching and being a coach. We can all develop a set of helpful coaching skills such as effective questioning, active listening, paraphrasing, etc., and we may choose to utilise a particular coaching process, model or framework to help manage the conversation, but how does the coach need to…

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#CoachMeet: Implementing Coaching – 4 Key Insights

I’ll be Skyping a short talk to the #CoachMeet event organised by Andrea Stringer in Sydney this evening. This looks like being a great event that will bring together people involved in coaching in education to talk about their experiences at a #TeachMeet style event.

I’ve decided to talk about some key insights that have emerged from my work on implementing coaching at my school over the past 3-4 years. This is the first time I’ve distilled my thinking in this way and they are still (as always) a work in progress.

Here’s my first go at doing a video presentation in preparation for my Skype call to the assembled #CoachMeet audience.

Here are my slides. Comments are very welcome.






#educoachOC Chat 11: Differentiating Coaching

Next #educoachOC chat – Mon 5 Sep – Differentiating Coaching – pre-blog and chat questions.



This Monday, on 5 September, our monthly #educoachOC chat will be exploring the topic of differentiating coaching.

If coaching is viewed as a catalyst and support for professional growth, then the process should be able to be applied to any individual’s contexts and priorities. Often we see coaching as a model differentiated by its open processes and intent to focus on the individual being coached. But does any coaching process, framework or approach fit most individuals and their growth needs?

In education, coaches are involved in coaching people at a variety of places in their careers and personal lives. People come into a coaching conversation with different priorities, different starting points and different needs. Early career teachers. Mid-career teachers. Veteran teachers. Highly reflective practitioners. Less reflective practitioners. Those struggling with change processes, work contexts or personal events. Aspiring leaders. New leaders. Middle leaders. Executive leaders.

As coaching is about helping…

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ACEL article: Introduction to Coaching

This article was published in the Australian Council for Educational Leaders (ACEL) eLeading newsletter on 26 August 2016:

Coaching in Education: An Introduction

It’s based on some frequently asked questions about coaching that my school addressed at the early stages of our coaching journey.

My recent (much less eloquent) interview for the TER podcast also addresses some of these issues.

I hope that it’s useful.