How coaching changed my teaching

March 31, 2017
Hannah Biddulph

Hannah Biddulph

Secondment: Assistant English Co-ordinator, Rosebrook Primary School

The concept of coaching has always been, to my mind, something that occurs on a sports field and it certainly wasn’t something that could be done over the phone.

In reality, the skills of remote coaching over the phone are not so different from the skills of face to face coaching but active listening is key to make change happen. Remote coaching within Ambition School Leadership’s Teaching Leaders programmes, ensures middle leaders are not restricted to the wider network of coaches because of their geographic proximity to a school.

Defining coaching

The definition of coaching promoted by Growth Coaching International describes coaching as:

“A one-to-one conversation focused on the enhancement of learning and development through increasing self-awareness and a sense of personal responsibility, where the coach facilitates the self-directed learning of the coachee through questioning, active listening and appropriate challenge in a supportive and encouraging climate.”

My first direct experience of professional coaching was a couple of years ago and I found the whole experience enlightening. Being taught by industry leading experts has allowed me to draw upon my inner strengths to solve problems, move forward with my career and see things from a different perspective, hence a stronger sense of self-awareness. It was then when I realised the power of coaching.

The next encounter with coaching was through Ambition School Leadership’s Teaching Leaders programme. This programme has greatly improved my confidence and has allowed me to be to draw upon my core strengths to be a stronger minded leader. Having my own coach has enabled me to explore how I can use different coaching styles in school more widely, in order to develop my leadership skills in my role.

Peer Support

Four ways coaching has influenced my teaching:

1) Interaction with Children

When a child is struggling to answer a question, it is extremely tempting to simply ‘guide’ the child to a quick solution in order to save time. Having a quick coaching discussion can empower children - providing them with the tools to solve the problem, rather than tell them the answer. It also links perfectly with mastery skills by developing their thinking further, formulating answers through exploration and higher level thinking – allowing me to embody successful leadership to enhance their learning.

"Coaching can also empower adults to reach their potential, having an even greater impact in the classroom. It gives people the confidence to stand on their own two feet, thinking more deeply and reflectively about their practice to be successful leaders."

2) Developing My Own CPD

Coaching has enabled me to develop a growth mindset - an area which I feel passionate about both personally and professionally. The inspiration I gained from coaching lead to applying to study for a Masters, something I have always wanted to achieve since graduating in 2011, but felt I was out of reach. I needed to find the determination within to believe in my potential and it was coaching that gave me the confidence to take the plunge.

I love learning and believe it is important to continue developing, not only as a teacher, but also as an aspiring leader. In order to grow as a person as well as a professional, striving to achieve your ambitions will open your eyes to endless possibilities. If you stop learning, so do the children. Simple.

3) Staff Interaction

Teaching is not a job, it is a lifestyle. When another member of staff approaches you with an issue, it is very easy to give them a quick answer. Coaching has helped me to interact more efficiently with my colleagues by asking them coaching-style questions that invite them to find their own solutions, rather than simply rely on me. Interactions are more efficient, meaning that more time can be spent in the classroom, doing what we all do best: raising standards in education and empowering children to realise and reach their potential.

Coaching can also empower adults to reach their potential, having an even greater impact in the classroom. It gives people the confidence to stand on their own two feet, thinking more deeply and reflectively about their practice to be successful leaders.

4) Promoting Reflective Practice

As teachers, we have always been taught to be reflective in our work. Initially, I thought that meant thinking ‘this part of lesson went well, but that part didn’t, so what could I have done differently?’

However, after having a few sessions of coaching, it made me reflect on areas such as the classroom environment, giving and receiving feedback, questioning and implementing leadership styles. These factors have a direct impact on the children, and to be honest, that is exactly why reflection is key: to benefit the children. This epiphany sparked an interest to do further reading around this subject, including books on ‘grit’ and developing a coaching ethos within schools.

Learning through Ambition School Leadership’s various coaching models has developed my leadership skills and has encouraged me to implement key strategies to be successful in my role. I would strongly recommend anyone who has coaching available to them to grab it with both hands and an open mind to explore where it could take you next.

This blog is part of our coaching series.


If you would like to know more about our Teaching Leaders programme, fill in this quick form for primary or secondary and a member of our School Partnerships team will be in touch.

The Future Leaders programme is for high-potential leaders who could reach headship within three years.


This article originally appeared on the website of Ambition School Leadership. In March 2019, the Institute for Teaching merged with Ambition School Leadership to form Ambition Institute.


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