#educoachOC Chat 10: Data in Coaching

Here’s the preview blog for the next #educoachOC chat on data in coaching on tonight!


Our next #educoachOC chat will explore the role of data in coaching conversations. The word ‘data’ has many meanings and connotations for teachers and school leaders. This chat aims to tease out some of the factors to consider when selecting, gathering and using data in the context of a coaching conversation.

At an international level, there is much debate around the validity and use of data such as that generated by the OECD. At a national level we are all familiar with the statistical data generated by national testing and school leaving qualifications, and how schools grapple with this in an attempt to make it meaningful and useful to individual teachers. School leaders need to deal with all manner of data, from budgets and expenditure to attendance and compliance measures. All of this data may fit the conventional view of data as statistical information used to measure performance or efficiency in some aspect of the education system. A…

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#educoachOC Chat 9: Listening

Listening in a Coaching Context: next #educoachOC Twitter chat – Monday 6 June 8.30pm Australian EST



Our next #educoachOC chat will focus on listening in a coaching context. Alongside other key coaching skills such as questioning, clarifying and empathising, the way we listen and engage with the coachee – with our ears, gestures and eyes – is perhaps the most fundamentally important factor in building the trust required for coaching to be effective.

Listening in everyday conversation can be very different from listening in coaching. We all know people who are poor listeners and we recognise the signs when we do not have someones full attention. There may be a clicking of a keyboard at the other end of the phone, or a TV program playing in the background, or a lack of response or nonsensical answer when you’ve asked a question. When the conversation is face to face we can see this lack of attention to what we are saying in the lack of eye contact, body language and expression. We can also…

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#educoachOC Chat 8: Coaching Contexts


Chat 8 Promo slide

Our next #educoachOC monthly chat is about contexts for coaching in schools. In particular, we’d like to explore the antecedent conditions for coaching: the precursors to the introduction of coaching in each of our educational contexts.

To set the scene for this chat you might want to read some of our team’s individual blog posts from last year. In If coaching is the answer, what is the question? Chris explores the starting points for coaching in his school context and in Developing a Coaching Model: Choices & Considerations he discusses some of the factors to be considered in moving from initial catalyst to developing a context-specific approach. In Implementing a coaching model: One school’s approach Deb explains her school’s approach to developing a coaching model.

Taking this notion of contexts for coaching further, and considering where our initial starting points might ultimately lead, the Global Framework for Coaching in Education

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The Know-how Continuum

Whitmore Quote

The recent #educoachOC chat on Twitter explored the key differences and similarities between coaching and mentoring as strategies to support teacher learning. I might tease out a few of the issues covered in the chat in future posts but for now I’ll concentrate on the issue of advice giving in a coaching or mentoring context.

There was a lot of discussion around the giving of advice versus not giving advice, and the expectations of both parties when entering into a coaching or mentoring relationship.

I liked Mary Jones‘ use of internal v external expertise and Kerron Worsdell‘s “revelation/epiphany” response. A mentoring relationship (not necessarily with the coach) could be an appropriate form of “external” learning that emerges in response to a need identified within a coaching cycle.



Sam Boswell shared the image below. It’s clear that the ownership and responsibility of the coachee increase as we move to the right.


This brought to mind something that was introduced to me during my coaching accreditation training and that I’ve referred to many times since when trying to explain the coaching process.

The Know-how Continuum

The know-how continuum can be a helpful way of thinking about how we frame our coaching questions in order for the coachee to generate options for moving forward. Ideally we want to stay, as long as possible, with the coachee’s own context, experiences and successes. Having fully explored this line of enquiry, or if it turns out not to be fruitful territory, we might move along to another – someone else who they know is good at this or has faced similar challenges or is in a similar context to the coachee. Finally, the last stop on the know-how continuum is the coach. The coach will almost certainly have ideas of their own to help the teacher move towards their goal. However, that’s just what they are – the coach’s ideas – and who’s to say that they are the best ideas? At this point, seeing the coachee struggling to find enough options, the coach might ask “would you like some suggestions?“. Caution and restraint are required on the part of the coach at this stage. A “yes please” response is not a license to immediately flip into full directive mode!

Whitmore advice & blame

The aim is to keep responsibility and ownership with the coachee. Introducing a suggestion with something like “What I’ve seen work in the past is….“, to some degree, puts the idea out there in neutral territory without the coach claiming ownership of it. This is very different from “Well, what I think you should do is…“. For (teacher) coaches (or perhaps just humans in general!) this can be a difficult thing to do. As Whitmore puts it:

It may be harder to give up instructing than it is to learn to coach

In my own experience as a teacher-coach, maintaining faith in the capacity of the coachee, and resisting telling, have at times been the most challenging aspects of the role. The faith is in their ability (supported by the coaching process) to reflect, think deeply, commit and act. It is not necessarily about surfacing specific knowledge or skill (although it may be there). Effective coaching helps the coachee to realise that they have the capacity to find a way to solve the problem or address their need. It is not always about knowing the answer there and then – “know-how” in this context can be knowing how to find their own answers.

So how does this sit with you? What’s your experience as a coach or coachee? What questions would you ask at different points on the know-how continuum? How do designated Instructional Coaches (more common in the US) manage to keep responsibility and ownership with the coachee when operating in a more directive way around specific instructional strategies?

Further Reading:

Mark McKergow discusses the “know-how continuum” as a Solutions Focussed approach in these two great articles:

Manager as coach – gathering know-how for improved performance 

Manager as coach – introducing the coach’s know-how Part 2

Thanks to Jason Pascoe (@jpgci) for sharing these.


Whitmore, J. (2009). Coaching for performance: GROWing human potential and purpose, the principles and practice of coaching and leadership (4th ed.). London, England: Nicholas Brealey Publishing.

#educoachOC Chat 2 – Coaching and Mentoring: What’s the difference?


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Following the successful launch of the #educoachOC twitter chat last month, we’re back for our next chat on Monday 5 October at 9pm AEDT (Sydney/Melbourne time).

This month we have decided to get back to basics and attempt to clarify the key differences between coaching and mentoring. Regardless of your current level of understanding or experience of either of these, we’d very much welcome your contribution.

It would be fair to say that definitions are contested and there is a lack of clarity in some places around the differences between coaching and mentoring. A quick online search will throw up some helpful and lots of less than helpful advice from both business and educational contexts. These descriptions are sometimes contradictory or superficial and can ignore the relational and situational factors that could impact on the success of both of these strategies.

A common issue for those trying to discern between coaching and mentoring as forms of professional learning is…

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Introducing #educoachOC

New Twitter chat about Coaching in Education – #educoachOC – coming very soon!


launching soon launching soon

#educoachOC is a Twitter chat, at an Oceania-friendly time, for those in education interested in coaching in school and education contexts. It’s a sister chat to the northern-hemisphere-friendly #educoach and cousin to #satchatOC.

Our first chat ‘State of Play’ will explore where our coaching community is at. What are our coaching dreams and our coaching realities?

This is a chat for a professional community to learn from and with each other. Anyone with an interest in coaching in education, from any coaching sphere, is welcome. While there are many models of coaching, including peer coaching, instructional coaching, GROWTH coaching and cognitive coaching, we are interested in gaining shared understandings of the definitions, uses and impacts of coaching in education contexts.

In order to model coaching practice through the chat, we will use the GROWTH coaching model to frame the questions. We’ve chosen that model for its accessibility, clear…

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