Reflections on coaching

April 25, 2017

Amie Clift-Matthews

Learning Leader for Science at Seven Kings High School

Coaching, for me, was perhaps the most valuable part of the Teaching Leaders programme. My coach was incredibly good at what she did and had an aura of experience around her; I knew I was going to be in safe hands throughout the programme.

This blog is part of our coaching series

The coaching sessions were both invigorating and mentally exhausting, as my coach was particularly good at asking questions that pushed me out of my comfort zone. That’s not to say the sessions weren’t enjoyable; they were. Just not in a ‘sit down and have a good gossip over a hot beverage’ way, more in a way that challenged my perceptions.

My coach made me feel that she had confidence in me, even when I didn’t have confidence in myself and felt like an abject failure during some very stressful times. She always knew what to say and which questions to ask to help me pick myself up again and carry on. At times, it was more like her pulling me through those tough times by my hair, but she always knew which tactic to use. 


A light bulb moment for me was realising I was allowing myself to be blocked by others who were not receptive to the ideas I had. I saw that, to some extent, I was using this as an excuse for why my impact strategy didn’t go to plan.

Speaking with my coach is what made me realise I had to be honest with myself about why I was feeling discouraged. In some cases it was because I was, in fact, the one responsible and I had to be accountable for my own actions, or lack thereof.  That was hard to hear or think about at times but, without this revelation, I would not have been able to turn things around.

We used a lot of tools used on the Teaching Leaders programme, an example being the Myers-Briggs type indicators. The results proved to be a very interesting discussion point. I felt that my coach helped me unlock a lot of information about why I react the way I do in certain situations and how this could be a barrier to my success.

"She made me want to be a better leader, not just for myself, but for the pupils that deserve the best of me."

My coach was also great at helping me put on the ‘headteacher’ or ‘head of department’ hat and making me see things from other peoples’ perspectives to help me understand why things were not going to plan, or how my ideas might be perceived.  My coach never told me how to fix an issue or to get around it, but empowered me to think of the solution myself.

I have taken a lot from my coaching and I have done a lot of reflecting on my own practice as a leader from our discussions.  As a result, the projects that I ran after the Teaching Leaders programme were a resounding success with 100% of Year 10 students entered early for GCSE core science achieving A*-C and 100% of A2 chemistry students achieving A-C grades.

I couldn’t have played my part in these achievements without the support of my coach. It made me face up to some hard truths and ultimately led me to success. She made me want to be a better leader, not just for myself, but for the pupils that deserve the best of me.

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.

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

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