It’s really difficult to deliver a successful teaching and learning project that produces improvements in quality and performance. There are just so many ways to fail:
- the plan looks exciting but not enough activity follows it
- the working group who run the project are not embedded at all levels of the organisation so can’t deliver the change
- the project plan is big on ambition and low on time and resource allocated
At the outset, many project teams make the simple mistake of not working out the answer to these fundamental questions:
1. How is our project going to be driven forward at team level?
2. Who is going to do this, when and how?
So why do we need Solution Focused Coaches?
Solution Focused Coaches can help your teaching and learning project get off the ground, maintain momentum and achieve its outcomes. They can play a key role in engaging staff with the work and keep them focused throughout the project lifecycle. They can become the main force at staff level for driving the project forward as they help the staff to translate the big vision of the project into a personal action plan in their own area. The coaches bring the project to life with the staff.
So what do Solution Focused Coaches do?
1. Develop the reflective skills of the staff through coaching conversations
2. Keep people focused on finding solutions to issues as opposed to bemoaning problems and barriers
3. Encourage peer coaching and collaboration so that people identify useful next steps for themselves
4. Build confidence by helping people identify their own skills, resources and achievements, enabling them to build on them
5. Stay on the coaching end of the coaching/mentoring spectrum – avoiding the temptation to direct people or impart advice and instead helping the teacher think through to their own solutions
6. Maintain the momentum of the project by keeping people on track with their action plans
7. Develop communities of professional dialogue in which good practice is shared
8. Act as a point of contact for the project leader for communications and administration such as evaluation
Where can I get Solution Focused Coaches?
The great thing is that you can develop a team of Solution Focused Coaches inside your organisation quite rapidly and for little cost. The core principles, activities and questioning skills can be passed on over a few days of training and the coaches can deploy these immediately in coaching conversations with individuals and groups.
I deliver a range of Solution Focused Coaching sessions involving a mixture of practical exercises and reflective debrief slots so that people experience coaching both as coachee and as coach at different points. Attendees see the value and applications of this immediately:
I really benefited from the chance to practise and be coached on my coaching. Very useful techniques were explored
Role playing specific issues being encountered in my own experiences was useful. Focused my attention on what I need to do (and haven’t been doing)
It was very useful to talk to someone out of my direct organisation and to be open and honest about the experimentation and facilitation process. Enabled me to take the time to be reflective which doesn’t always happen during the working day
When you train up a group of SF coaches, you are enhancing coaching capacity in your organisation as these people will be well placed later to coach people in different capacities, e.g. developmental coaching, performance coaching or as part of a support package for new staff. This training also enhances the knowledge and skill set of those who have participated in other coaching initiatives such as the Subject Learning Coach or Advanced Learning Coach programme. In some cases, their deployment into coaching on a project is the first time they will have been used in a structured, productive way, as many colleges have failed to utilise these staff effectively in the past.
To sum up, with Solution Focused Coaching in place, you can deliver effective projects and develop a coaching framework that supports a wide range of quality improvement processes.
I’m currently working with over 20 UK colleges to increase their coaching capacity. If you want to discuss any of the points raised here or talk about support or training for your organisation, please leave a comment and/or contact me:
Mobile: 07811 378 398