This is a guest post from Jean Ward of Kirkwall Grammar School
Two and a half years ago, on a wintry day in January, I attended the first cohort of training on non directive coaching and mentoring. Like many of my colleagues who have also completed the training, I have discovered I use it in nearly all aspects of my professional and personal life. We are all now looking at ways these skills can be developed in other staff and with our pupils.
This was originally a SEED funded project which has grown and been sustained in Orkney. The original target group was emergent leaders and probationer mentors, a number of whom have gone on to gain professional recognition from the GTCS in mentoring. Probationers were supported with the introduction of a course called “ The Reflective Practitioner” which took the personal awareness aspect of the coaching course and encouraged these new professionals to examine their interpersonal and intrapersonal skills. Probationers who have benefited from this training and the coaching skills of their mentors are now signing up for the full course.
The course covers the main skills involved in non-directive coaching; listening, questions, body language, silence, scaling and dialogue all to support Clutterbuck’s GROW model. Staff from all levels of the school service have now completed the initial training. Participants are encouraged to form coaching partnerships, a buddy system of support. The course also runs in Shetland and the Western Isles allowing practice and experiences to be shared. A member of Kirkwall Grammar School staff participated in delivering the course during INSET in Stornoway in October 2009.
In Kirkwall Grammar School we now have a number of staff trained and we wanted to see how we could develop these skills with our pupils.
We turned to Coaching and Reflective Practitioner course leader Kate Coutts (Shetland Islands Council) to develop and pilot a 2-day course for S6. We have now had 2 groups through the process and have used their feedback to mould the direction of the course. We also wanted to be able to self deliver. With the help of a colleague and coaching buddy from one of the associate primaries, we are now in the position to offer a ‘reflective practitioner’ type course to S6 pupils called “ S6 What’s Next?” We have included in this an introduction to the GROW model as a tool for self coaching on difficult issues. Combining it with some of the AiFL buddying and peer support techniques, pupils are beginning to tackle what the future may hold in a much more structured manner. Feedback from participants has been very positive. We would like to start looking at the impact it has on their learning overall and quality of their Personal statements and applications.
We now believe we can offer a similar course in S4. This course will be called “What Now ?” If we make an introduction to coaching and the GROW model at this stage, we can develop the S6 course in to the full coaching course, very similar to that on offer to staff. Who knows? Maybe we can even have staff and pupils training together.
Coaching has a significant role to play in the personal development and independent learning of staff and pupils. We have a lot to explore here in KGS and we may write further blog posts about how we are getting on.
Last year, S1 also had a significant coaching experience but it demands a separate report. A group of ten pupils participated in the powerful leadership development tool that is METASAGA. I leave you to find out more about that on your own.