• Theme: Coaching educational professionals
  • Media:Answers to typical questions

According to research, to achieve effective professional development, it is crucial that someone facilitates the learning process in the group or team (Merchie et al., 2015). In doing so, it is important that the facilitator finds a balance between providing substantive input on the one hand, and facilitating the learning process through feedback and other coaching skills on the other. That role as facilitator or coach might sound difficult for some. However, coaching is essentially about eliciting and guiding learning.

What is coaching?

When we talk about coaching, we mean evoking and supporting learning (Clement, 2015):

  1. Evoking: stimulating people to set a step in uncertainty. People don't always feel eager to learn, do not always want to change or improve something...
  2. Supporting: supporting people in finding out what they can do in order to succeed.
  3. Learning: a broad concept, as learning can take place in different domains, e.g., learning insights, skills, relational and emotional learning,…

Who can you coach?

Coaching evokes and supports learning in others. These others can be anyone, from teachers, support teachers and other educational professionals at school, to learners and parents, or partners in the local community, like therapists, social workers, psychologists or pedagogues,... In the context of a professional learning community, coaching creates opportunities for reflection and decision-making in and across your team.

What can you coach?

Coaching is primarily about the future. As a coach you are therefore just as curious about

  • problems that people experience in dealing with diversity or in the cooperation with learners, parents, colleagues or other partners,
  • situations where dealing with diversity, inclusion, or interprofessional collaboration is already successful and runs well, and 
  • challenges where people want to try something new, develop a new approach or undertake something.

What belief do you need to develop as a coach?

Coaching starts from a strong belief in the other person's learning potential and capacity to solve situations. The starting point is that everyone can learn. Coaching thus starts even before you begin, by reflecting on how you look at the other person. It is not just an unconditional belief that every person can learn. It is also the belief that every teacher or other partner can learn to appreciate diversity and work with others to figure out what works to make the classroom and the school more inclusive. If everyone can continue to learn and develop his or her competencies, you don't have to be perfect as a coach either. If you succeed in getting colleagues to try things out and to sharpen their competences, it often becomes less difficult to find out how you can fill in any missing expertise in the team together.