#5 Coaching and mentoring: do you need more or less of me?

#5 Coaching and mentoring: do you need more or less of me?

Coaching and mentoring: do you need more or less of me?

According to Jim Knight, coaching is for professionals who think for a living.  Growth Coaching International Executive Director, Chris Munro, explains how coaching is about relationships and conversations, fuelled by understanding the nuances within the different layers.  Coaching and mentoring sit on a continuum, and by asking the ever-important question 'how do I need to be for this person right now' determines the coaching stance and how much of me is needed at this time.

#5 Chris Munro

You're listening to Loretta Piazza, experienced school, principal, mentor, and coach, and together we're 'talking out of school'. You will hear from leaders who have lived and breathed so many experiences, agonized over decisions and have tossed and turned through countless sleepless nights. These are the people who will help you stay ahead of the game.

You're listening to Loretta Piazza, experienced school principal, mentor, and coach, and together we're talking out of school. You will hear from leaders who have lived and breathed so many experiences, agonized over decisions and have tossed and turned through countless sleepless nights. These are the people who will help you stay ahead of the game.


When I first started this series on coaching and mentoring in schools, I was absolutely certain that they are two totally different things, but my thinking has evolved and it's morphed into doing away with labels and seeing coaching and mentoring more as a practice, where it's about giving more of me or less of me, depending on what is needed. The person who has helped me come to terms with this realisation is Chris Munro, Executive Director at Growth Coaching International.

Interview with Chris Munro

Loretta Piazza: Hello, Chris, welcome to talking out of school.

Chris Munro: Hi Loretta. Thanks. Thanks for having me.

L: Uh, could you start off by telling us a little bit about yourself and your background?

C: Okay, I'll give you the short, the short hand version. So the accent tells a story in itself. So I'm Scottish. I'm from Glasgow originally. I trained in Glasgow as a secondary teacher and qualified 1992. Um, so nearly 30 years ago now, uh, and a secondary design technique teacher. It was my subject passion that drew me into teaching, uh, and then ended up teaching and, and living up in the far northeast of Scotland, in Aberdeen and becoming a design technology teacher up there, head of the department, various other kind of leadership roles up there and involvement with the Scottish Qualifications Authority. And through that time developed a real interest in leadership and then, uh, the professional development of my colleagues, that was a lot of student teachers and things. And then I got a chance to go to Aberdeen university and be a teaching fellow there, which meant I was doing my subject thing again, but training teachers. But at that point started to get a much, much broader, conversational experience, if you want to call it that. I had a broader range of conversational contexts and I look back now and I think I wish I had known then what I know now. Coaching wasn't in the education landscape, but the better conversations were more coach-like, and the ones that didn't go so well, what probably, but too much for me, but too much status, all the things that you know happened there. So when I came to Australia nearly 11 years ago now, and I should say I'm an Australian citizen, got my passport. Not been allowed to go anywhere with it yet, but I've got it. What's in, in schools here and government and independent schools, and that's when coaching came on the horizon. So then was responsible for developing coaching models in schools. Leading professional learning, that was my leadership position for professional learning in those schools. And then got the chance, I think it's four or five years ago now, to come and work for GCI. And I'm the executive director with GCI, which means I look after the operations of the company. Well, internationally and now globally.

L: Wow. Well, to me that makes you sound like quite an expert and just the right person to be asking all these questions. Sort of interested in coaching and mentoring because that comes up a fair bit. Can you define coaching what it is and what it isn’t?

C: That's a good way of putting it. What is it? And what isn't it? Um, I mean, I could give you a textbook definition, but I won't read the definition out here. I suppose for me the essence of, of coaching in schools and I think we need to see that, uh, and, and in an education context, we think it is slightly different from life coaching or, you know, pick your own adventure, in terms of school and system priorities. But within that, um, I position coaching as a professional learning service. I think the word service is important. Our form of professional learning in itself and the catalyst for other forms of professional learning. I think it's fundamentally about bringing out the best in people. And when, when the work that teachers do is probably some of the most complex work in any profession every day. Uh, how do you help teachers be the best teachers they can be? Every lesson every day, you know, and that's a challenge. That's maybe a never-ending journey, but coaching has a way of helping people get better at doing what they do and in schools it's about helping educators get better at doing and leaders get better at doing what they do and it's that that provides that support of supportive accountability for any individual who's pursuing what they want to pursue. And it provides a helpful, critical, reflective lens. So we know reflective practice is really hard to do on your own. Sounds grand but a coach provides a really valuable service there and helping shine a light on your work can help present lenses for your work. So I see it as in one sentence a thinking service for professionals who, and I'm going to paraphrase from Jim Knight here, professionals who think for a living. I think educators fundamentally think for living. Um, and this is helping us think with more clarity and more proper.

L: A person doesn't just go up to you, Chris and say, I want to be coached or I want to be mentored. I imagine they, they go to you because they've got a dilemma or they seek a solution or they want advice. How do you know then what approach to take with this person?

C: Okay. So, yeah, you're right. They don't often come up and say, can you coach? Or they sometimes do, can you coach me? Can you mentor me? And I think one of the things there is that it’s a sign they have a notion of what coaching and mentoring may be. So sometimes people will solicit a particular service from you. So they may come to you knowing that you are a super experienced principal and say, look, I'm new in the job. Can you mentor me? Because they understand that mentoring is a more knowledgeable experienced other apprentice, novice kind of thing, master apprentice, that kind of thing. Um, and they know you've been there, done it and got the t-shirt, you know. So they understand that's what so they'll come and say, I expect you to give me some of your advice, some of your wisdom. If they come and say, coach me, I think it's probably less well understood. I think they probably, I don't know what that, they think sports coaching that I think train me, train me in how to be like you, train me how to be a principal. Um, so it's less well understood. So I think for me, uh, if you came and said to me, I've got this dilemma, Chris, as a school leader, or as what I do now as a coach, I would be helping you to, first of all, make sense of what it is you want instead of this dilemma that you have just now. So that's a solution focused coaching approach. Spend more time on what you want rather than what you don't want, but then I need to discern how do I need to be for this person right now? So you come and ask me to coach you or mentor you or say, can you help me, Chris? I understand you help people think about things so can you help me? And you might know a thing or two as well. I've got to discern what you need. I've also got to discern what you've already got, and that might mean I'm taking more of a mentoring stance or a mentoring….you may call it mentoring. You may recognize that the mentoring, and sometimes when you need some of me, but actually a lot of the time I'll be taking a more coaching or coach like stance, uh, what I'm really creating a space for you to think and make sense and reach greater clarity. And so in that sense, sometimes the terms or the labels and the badge I wear don’t matter.  I'm delving really deep in some stuff here, but I think that question raises it for me. You come and say help me Chris. And I'm a middle leader. Let's see. I was my head of department when I was a design technology teacher. Somebody comes, often with a complaint or a whinge and says, oh, that class was terrible. In that moment I've got to discern how I need to be. And that's whether I say, you know, should we have some coaching sessions and do it formally, or in the moment, do I take a coaching stance and ask a few more clarifying questions before I jump in with my powers of wisdom, because I understand that that's going to be more empowering for them. So I think there's two things I'm giving you a big, long rambling answer to your question Loretta. Um, I think that one is about understanding of the terms. So do you and I both understand what those terms mean? And the second one is, uh, first of all, do you know what you need and what's good for you? Or do you just happen to know that label? And actually, am I the person who has that expertise in helping? And expertise in helping means I understand what those terms mean and that you might need?

L: Okay. It’s not necessary…it's not necessarily a label and it's recognizing what help I need. So how does that play out in a school environment? What does it look like?

C: What does that look like? Um, so first thing there is role clarity, but sometimes when we talk about role clarity, we think, well, my role as you probably had people in your school, who part of the role was to be, to mentor others. So they had mentoring as one of the points in the role description. It may be new grads, new graduate teachers, uh, and, or in a secondary or the head of department. So you get the new grad in your department. You're expected to mentor them. I was expected to mentor people before I ever had any mentoring training, because it's just the label, you know? And the same happens with coaching. Sometimes you may have instructional coaches. You may, in Victoria, you may have learning specialists who are effectively instructional coaches and various other roles. Yeah. So, um, the way it plays out is actually, first of all, understanding those, those terms helps because then someone who says, do you want to be coached? Do you want to be mentored? What do you need from me here? You've got a common language. I think that's one of the things. And when that's not there, one of the first things people need to grapple with is that I'm hesitant to use role clarity again, because I think it's actually a more terminology clarity and your, whatever you decide to call it in you school, you all understand what it means. And you know what to expect from me when you come at me for help. And I'm, I'm almost contracting that with you the way we would in one-on-one coaching. So I think that's important in schools. When that's absent that sometimes causes confusion, um, that all these different forms of coaching going on all these different terms flying around or the principal makes it worse by saying we're all coaches now, we’re all going to coach each other, you know, and now you're not, uh, but you've all got more conversational intelligence. So you've all got more of a conversational framework that's consistent. So I think that's one of the things. There's in the difference, the last part of that sounds that I suppose, is there's then a difference between formal mentoring and formal coaching, where you're designated as my coach or my mentor. And we go through quite a time-bound formalized series of conversations. So, if you enlist me to do a coaching cycle with you on leadership coaching, like one of the ones we do with the Victorian department, for example, you'll get me for between six and eight sessions, an hour each, and in that time, we will have some goals that you want to address and you know, that I'm partnering with you to work through that. And do you know that I'm partnering with you to work through that? Whether I'm called a coach or a mentor doesn't really matter because you might need some of me sometimes and not a lot of me at other times. But in a school, there’s obviously timetables, there's parameters around that, there’s resourcing around that. So there's some kind of, it's not a compromise, but we need to think about that as a, as a resourced thing when it's formal. But then the other side of it is what we call a coaching approach or a coaching stance. And that means when somebody comes, as I'm sure you had many times, knocks on your door or didn't even knock, they just barge in, on your door and your office. And as they're saying, have you got a minute, uh, they are starting to tell you what the problem is before you've even said yes or no. And I've only got seven minutes because I'm going to another meeting then, just let it go. In that moment again how do you show up in that conversation? So what's your mode of operation? What you're listening for? What questions have you got in your repertoire? What's your intent in the conversation? Do they need you just to listen and watch cause you're not doing either coaching or mentoring. Do they need help thinking that needs some of your advice? You're doing all of that in that moment when you're taking a coaching stance as a leader. So I think that's the less formal way. You're not going to say, hang on a minute, stop talking. Let me get my notepad. Let's sit at the desk and let's do the coaching, you know? So I think there's probably more of that in schools than there's formal coaching and it's helpful too, to have that conversation in the school, I think, with your staff in terms of what do we want to see around here in terms of the kinds of conversations we have. For me, this is essentially how we talk around here and what we talk about that that's the essence of it. And there's different modes of that, if that makes sense.

L: I don’t know if just anybody could do that role. What do you think? Well, you know, in that split second, you need to make a decision. Am I just listening or do I need to be asking some questions? I've only got seven minutes.

C: That's a great, that's a great provocation, a really good one. Um, I, if you push me for an answer, I'd say it’s not, and not everybody can do that. Um, I think there's a higher level of emotional intelligence required and that means that it's an, and we've got to remember the emotional intelligence fluctuates minute by minute, day by day. So it doesn't mean you're an emotionally intelligent person or not. It means your levels will change. And I think there's a self-awareness and self-management required in that moment. Because we are all serial advice givers. Yep. We’re all fixers. So are your, your gut reaction is telling you to tell them what the, what you think or to rescue them, and understanding, and that's something everybody can learn to get better at to manage that Advice Monster, Michael Bungay Stanier would call it. You've got this advice monster on your shoulder saying, I know what they need to do. Just tell him. And he has a mantra where he says, you know, your advice, isn't as good as you think it is. So have that up above your door as they come into your office. My advice is not as good as I think it is. Hold that, park it until it's absolutely needed. So I think it’s a big part of that emotional intelligence and self-awareness and awareness of others that is a harder thing to teach people. Whereas the conversational frameworks, that repertoire of more helpful questions than the ones we might normally ask, uh, the way we listen, and tuning in to listening. I think everybody can get better at that and learn that. You can coach people on their emotional intelligence. You can coach people on that awareness, but it's harder. You know, but I think there are certain things that you can get everybody or put anything at a stronger level. They often underpin us, as a leader is your beliefs about the teachers you work with. You are your beliefs and values about how we should treat and teachers and, and professionalism and what that means. And if you really don't believe that your colleagues have the capacity to get better at doing what they do, and that that's just that moaning person coming to complain about me again, the bad news is that's going to show up in your conversation at some stage, isn't it? And it's going to influence the dynamic.

L: And if you're coaching people or working with people in your own environment, there's that strong possibility that you have these preconceived ideas about these people and, and, and your ability and their ability. I'm really interested in an earlier comment you made about a coaching approach. So does that sit on some sort of a continuum?

C: It does. It does. And I've written a little bit about that. Um, and, and there's, there's an article that I can send to you actually, that you can share if you like. Um, it, it's a concept that we've been talking about for quite a long time. When we started doing this kind of training and built on, on Christian van Nuremburg’s work our global director, Professor Christian van Nuremburg I should say, giving him his full title. He wrote a book in 2012 called coaching in education. And that he had a kind of a continuum that talked about, uh, directive conversations and non-directive conversations. Now that's evolved in a managed way over quite a number of years, and he's actually working on that some more just now. Um, but I've grappled with that for quite a while, uh, and developed to end to this concept of, it's not, when we say directive or non-directive, those are quite finite pejorative terms. It's like one or the other. It creates a dichotomy between mentoring and coaching. That isn't actually there in reality, based on what I've said already. So the concept of a continuum, this is a podcast, so you won't see me swing from side to side here, but as I talk about it, I'm all, I cannot stop myself from moving from side to side, because for me in my head, I'm shifting stance along that continuum, do I need to be more directive and more directive doesn't mean giving directions and doing the leadership director. If there would have been things as a principal that were mandated, you know, mandatory reporting, policies, you have to turn up in time for your first class. You can't choose to come in at 10 o'clock because you're not a morning person. You know, all those things that you've got to say, no, I need to tell you that's not on and it needs to change. When we're talking about professional learning conversations, growth-orientated conversations, there is a continuum there, where you, either need more of me that's the more directive and more of my voice, more of my experience, expertise, wisdom, or they need much less and often they need less than we think. They don't really need as much as you think they do. So stay in at that less directive end means you're adopting what we may call a more facilitative stance. You're there to hold a space for them to think you're there to service their thinking and hold them to action. When you go to the more directive end, so that more directive and less directive is more helpful, is less finite. Then I'm just very tactically and tactfully, tactically and tactfully, injecting a bit of my knowledge about my expertise, because I detect that they might need it. But even when I do that, I'm not saying, well, here's what I think you should do. Here's what I think you should do as advice giving. And it's very direct. What could say as well, would you like some suggestions from me? And you're not going to say no, thanks. You're going to say, yes, please, I thought you'd never ask ask and I'll say, well, what I've seen, what follows in the past as this and, uh, and my experience working with other teachers, here's what I've seen from other leaders, here's what I've seen. How does that sound to you? How would that look in your context? And when they start going, oh yeah, well, yeah, maybe that would work then maybe I could, all of a sudden I'm backing away to the facilitative end again. And it's actually now one of the options bobbing around that they’re shaping that's, that's offering suggestions, that's sharing options. And to me, the subtlety of that language is important because that's different from giving advice. That's not as definite. So I think the key skill for me, that's become clear and an effective….let me call it someone who's effective at holding a helpful professional learning conversations. So I'm not using coaching and mentoring. That continuum goes from less of me to more of me, less directive to more directive, of more facilitative, more advocacy at the other end, the support was, and in the middle somewhere, that's kind of that balance of inquiry and advocacy. I know some stuff that might be useful, but when I raise it with you, I'm doing it very provisionally and tentatively. So you're always in the driving seat. As soon as I take you out of the driving seat well, it's me, that's got responsibility then I want to keep it with you. So I think that the nuance of that and the subtlety of that shift is tricky for beginners to wrap their heads around. And you've been a coach and trainer and things and you know that that's something you grapple with right in the first half an hour, this mentoring coaching thing that's always joined. What, what, what does that mean? What's the difference? And you get people say, oh, that's all helpful, but the way you've just described it, um, I thought I was a mentor, but I'm doing what you just call coaching. And you've got an equal number who say I was called a mentor, but I'm actually doing more of what looks like coaching and the answer to that is, well, are you seeing the signs that you're actually been helpful to the people that you're working with and what is it you're seeing? Well, actually, just squirt out the name on your badge and call it wherever you like, you know, professional helper. I think that's a very good term, but yeah, like that's kind of where I’m at with that thinking. And I think that the key point that is the skills of an effective mentor and I'm doing mentor training there as well with different groups, the skills that you need to be an effective mentor, the way of being, you need to be an effective mentor aren’t very different. I'd say probably the only difference has been able to explain things clearly because there's an expectation of a mentor or an instructional coach that you can share your knowledge in a respectful way, in a clear way. I think that's the only, I'm still grappling with it, but I think that's the only additional scale I would add. That would be different from a full on executive coach or a leadership coach at the other non facilitative end. The skills and way of being are I think the same in our schools.

L: We've got a lot of principals who are accredited coaches, or they think they are, and they're doing coaching. I can, look I’m thinking to my own experiences, um, where I have coached some of my own staff and I just keep getting this feeling that they're doing it because they might be a little bit afraid to say to me, oh no, we're not going to, you know, we don't want to be involved in this. How does the principal get around that?

C: These are big questions. Um, so what you're talking about that as leader as coach, or, or actually it's not just any leader or a middle leader, it's the leader, it's the boss. Um, and no matter how flat you want your hierarchy to be, no how, no matter how distributed you want your leadership to be, ultimately, the buck stops with you as the principal. Uh, ultimately, and I said this in a workshop recently, you know, you can hire or fire, and a principal came straight back to me in the workshop with, I darn well wish I could hire and fire. I don't have that power. But you know what, you know what I mean? You've got a status, a perceived or actual status difference between you and anyone below you in the organisation if you like. What that means is you almost need to work extra hard to mitigate for that. It's on you, you can't, and actually, you know, you've been there and done it to say, trust me, I'm your coach for the next half an hour. Not your, not your boss. Doesn't really make people go okay, then I'll tell you my deepest, darkest secrets.  Hmm. And the thinking or wait and see with us feels like, you know, it's, it, there's a whole lot of trust and relational trust that underpins that. And I actually think you might never get that complete trust and transparency because you're the boss. There's a point you can get to and you could certainly have much, much more productive, empowering conversations with your colleagues and with your teams. And a great example is performance development conversations. Yeah, performance development review each year. A number of principals who I have  spoken to said, yeah, I said, what do you want it to look like? I want to see teachers bounce through the door and say, look Loretta, look what I've done. I've done this. And I've worked with a coach and this is what the students did. And here's the evidence. And I said, well, what does it look like now? And they say, well, they just come in and tell me what I think they think I want to hear. It’s just kind of passive compliance. They go through it and we tick the box we sign them off, and that's set for another year. Phew! What you really want is a post of productive dialogue about the practice. And I think the main barrier here, there's a few barriers. There's one about how it's positioned in the system and the people work and all of that. But I think another barrier, it is actually that perceived status and psychological safety might sound too heavy and it's kind of misused sometimes, but do they feel that they can genuinely open up to you and be vulnerable about the practice and you might feel as a, why not? I really won’t judge them, but they've still always gone. They're always going to have that guardiness. So being someone's line manager and trying to be their coach is actually quite a challenge in terms of the boundaries. You can do it if your name it up upfront. And that's one of the pieces of advice is actually to name that tension right at the get-go so, you know, you know, in executive coaching we'll talk about contracting and what to expect from me. What, what, why wouldn't you do that when you're trying to adopt that stance with your colleagues and name it, especially if it's in that kind of performance development conversations? Um, and the other option as well, they may be doing your coaching, but maybe you're not the right person to do it because that is getting in the way. And you mentioned the connect, background and the context as well. A coachee said to me once, I'm really struggling with corporate memory, that was the phrase she used. And I said, told her, I hadn't heard that term before. Tell me more about corporate memory. And she said, it's like everybody in the school remembers all my past mistakes because they used to be farther down the food chain. She said that she used to be a classroom teacher, a year level head or whatever. And now, I'm an AP. Ah, I'm trying to counter that. I've changed. I've moved on in my, all my colleagues who saw my mistakes before. And so that I thought that almost you're almost too close to it then. So there's some people she couldn't coach because that would get in the way. So I think that it's a case by case thing, but what we'll see is that whole leader as coach stance or coaching as a way of leading, we need to be careful we don't say I'm going to coach you, but actually acknowledging that that informal coaching approach is a really powerful way of empowering people, giving them voice and actually helping them have agency. And I think if we name that up with our staff as well, they realize you're not just playing mind games with them and trying to get them to do more work. You've actually got their best, best interests at heart and the interest of the students. So I think there's a lot in that, that the, what I've just said is probably what I would like principals to be saying to their staff, about what we're trying to do it right here.

L: You know, a principal wanting to implement coaching or a coaching approach in their school. What are the do's and don'ts?

C: Uh, you’re pushing a coach to give you a finite answer here, which is always a challenge. Do's and don'ts rules. Um, I think that are some things we've learned that coaching cultures and that whole coaching implementation thing has been a passion of mine for a while. I think one of the do’s is actually you have to walk the talk. Uh, so, uh, you know, if this is coming from a leadership level, which is often where it starts; it's very rare for the classroom teacher to start a coaching project and the school, um, I think there needs to be public endorsement. Uh, I think there definitely needs to be possibly a champion or team of champions who aren't necessarily the boss or the senior leadership team, because you know how busy you get and with all the best will in the world, you see the good intentions you don't get the time or do it justice. So, when we see it work really well it's where there's someone else who is mandated to champion this as a way of working. That's one thing. Um, and I think that's a really important one. It doesn't have to be there at the start, but at some point to make it run, it has to stay there. In one of my schools I worked in, it took quite a number of years to get that to happen, but we were still beavering away in the meantime, in the middle. So we influenced in the middle out in a big secondary school. It's a lot easier to have it come straight from the top first. And there's two other, there's two other do’s, I think definitely. Um, is there, I suppose the don'ts sit the flip side of all of these aren't they? Um, one is around that clarity that we've talked about here. Clarity of intent. So what is this really about? But you can stand up in front of staff and make a sales pitch and say, and people like you who've done training, there’s a danger you go back to school and become an evangelist for coaching. So you go running back to your staff and say, I've seen the light, I've been in this coaching conversation, this coaching course. Trust me, this is what you need, guys, it’s good for you. Take your medicine. And you've got all your staff sitting there with their arms folded, going, now, here we go again, Loretta’s off on one of those again, what she picked up this time? Don't let her go on any more courses. She keeps coming back with these bright ideas. So I think one of the key things… I learned the hard way. That’s what I did in my school. And I got a deafening silence, not resistance. They didn't stand up towards me, funnily enough. So the key thing that is first of all, start with who does volunteer. So start with that coalition of the willing. You have to start there and get some champions. If you can get a couple of cynics in there, that really helps because they become the evangelists. But the other thing is let them experience it. I didn't do that soon enough when I started doing lesson school. I talked about it, but talking about it, it's not the same as experiencing it. And once they saw a demonstration, once they saw you being coached, so the boss steps up and does a demo or films their class, or does whatever, they go, ah, that's a different kind of conversation from what we usually have. That looks, that stuff, I’d like some of that, thanks. And then when demand outstrips supply, you know, you're doing something right. You know, but that coalition of the willing, that clarity and letting them see what it looks like. And then the other side, and this is not just me as a trainer, you do actually need training, for what we've shown already in the last half an hour, it's nuanced. There's a lot of layers. It's more than just taking a little framework, a process and a cycle. I mean, the department policies that are awash with cycles, you know, the school improvement cycle doesn't look that different to an instructional coaching cycle we talk about, but the nuance is what happens in all those nice little bubbles and diagrams. The conversations are the things that fuel them and those are based on relationships. So that's the one thing. I suppose the other caution, number one I would leave you with is as you need to start thinking about what are the, what I like to call the antecedent conditions. So what's, what has this been transplanted into? You don't, even if you've got a brand new school, you're going to get staff from different places. So you may think that's the dream ticket. You get a brand new school, fertile ground, then you plant coaching and it, well, that's very rare, first. So, you know, one of my former colleagues, former GCI colleague as well, Sophie Hunter, she talks about the professional learning architecture in your school. So how does coaching fit or mentoring or both? How does this kind of way of operating conversations, sit alongside them around your other forms of professional learning? If it's a plugin or an add on, they will fall flat on its face because you don't have time to add anything else to it, do you? Um, so one of the decisions for leaders is how do I need to work with my finite resource that I've always got? And one of those is time to privilege this over something else. What am I going to stop doing if I really value this and want staff to be doing more of this? And that may mean you're smarter with your meetings. You change the time to all sorts of things I've seen people do, but you actually need to confront that. And if you don't, you're just waiting for it. And there's lots of things in schools you wished for that never quite come to fruition.

L: Uh, yeah, schools are very busy places and there are always priorities popping up. And if this is something that you really feel that you need to implement well, you're right. You've got to do it properly.

C: Yeah, absolutely. And I think, I've I've now started to talk about a coaching culture, being some form of organizational way of being, you know, we talk about coaching way of being as an individual, how you experienced me and how I show up. What was your organizational way of being look like? How do you talk around here? What do you talk about?  Again, for me, that's what a coaching culture would be like, but then when it says, or what does that look like at my school? You know, and the context serving this.

L: Yeah. What really stood out in, uh, today's conversation, and I guess this has been a real aha aha moment for me to think about, does this person need more of me or does this person need less of me and, and having that balance and really understanding what that need is. Yeah. I mean, that's just, I think that’s just so powerful. I want to thank you.

C: I think that's honestly the heart of it. That really is the heart of it. And for that, for you to do that well, you need to be quite humble. And you need to be willing to set aside your well-earned expertise and hard-fought qualifications and so on. You need to be willing to set them aside and say, let me just meet this person, where they’re at and see what they've got and know why you're doing that. You're not doing it just because it's nice. You're doing it because it actually brings out more in that person. Then they're going to be more motivated as a result. And you find me a principal who doesn't say they want a more motivated staff.

L: I think that's a fabulous note to finish on. Chris, thank you very much for your time. You know, your knowledge, your expertise, your understanding, it's all there, and that's come through today. So thank you very, very much, and I wish you all the best.

C: Thanks Loretta.

L: And lots more coaching for a lot of people in the future.

C: It's been an absolute joy and yeah, I never pass up an opportunity to talk about coaching in education, as you can tell. So, yeah, that's been a pleasure. Thank you.

Thanks for listening to this latest episode of talking out of school where we cover topics and dilemmas associated with the ups and downs, and even the downright curious of the school leader's job. Want to know more? Then visit me at shapingleaders.com.au

But for now, here’s to staying ahead of the game.


Resource Chris referred to during the interview.

Munro, C (2020), A Continuum of Professional Learning Conversations: Coaching, Mentoring and Everything in Between, CollectivED [11], pages 37-42, Carnegie School of Education, Leeds Beckett University.