What is Coaching?

Over 2,400 years ago, at the height of the Athenian enlightenment, Socrates asserted that teachers should help students to uncover information for themselves. This was a radical departure from the traditional approach of the time, which thought of students as empty vessels and of teachers as dispensers of information. The Socratic philosophy of teaching set the stage for coaching, which aims to unlock and increase potential and learning.

Whether a coach is helping a teacher improve, or a teacher is using the same skills with students in the classroom, coaching allows for a constructionist theory of education. This allows for the individuals to create strategies for themselves.

The Goal of Coaching

Coaching is concerned with long-term skill development rather than with quick fixes or temporary understanding. We define coaches as those who offer inspiration, guidance, training, and modeling, and who enhance others’ abilities through motivation and support (Longenecker & Pinkel, 1997). The goal of a coach is to increase achievement by helping someone:

  • Find their inner strengths and passions in order to nurture self-worth and identity,
  • Have a voice in their own learning and negotiate collectively with the instructor to create the goals and objectives,
  • Passionately engage in talking content to increase memory retention and fuel motivation to learn, and,
  • Use their inner talents to bring their work to the highest level of scholarship attainable.

The coaching strategies, which have been used successfully in some of the most diverse classrooms in the United States, can help to:

  • Empower individuals by allowing them ownership of their work,
  • Improve organizational and note-taking skills,
  • Overcome emotional and environmental roadblocks,
  • Resolve conflicts, and
  • Ensure harmonious group or team work.

How does Coaching Differ From Counseling or Mentoring?

To better understand coaching, we can compare it to other professions. According to Coach People Training, coaching is multidisciplinary and helps individuals move toward effective action by focusing on the present. A coach asks questions that provoke awareness, creating an environment for self-discovery. By contrast, therapists often look at the past to help patients understand the present; guidance counselors address personal problems and may recommend academic or career placement; consultants, who are usually experts in a given field, provide techniques and answers to questions; and mentors help individuals replace or take on specific new positions. Teacher-coaches are a whole different world, with the determined objective of having students they work with find their own way, attaining the learning skills to move on to a higher level of achievement while realizing their educational potential.