Coaching for Success 2019/02/28 Updated

On the weekend of 23-24 February, we were fortunate to welcome Mr Jason Pascoe to AISHK to work with 27 of our Executive staff, Heads of Year and Heads of Department across Reception to Year 12. Jason is a director at Growth Coaching International, an Australian-based organisation which aims to share impactful, research-informed and practical coaching skills for personal, professional and organisational improvement. Jason is a former teacher and Head of PDHPE, which makes him well-qualified to deliver programs around effective coaching in educational contexts.

Coaching and mentoring in schools is now recognised as a key component in building teaching and leadership capacity and, crucially, improving student learning outcomes and wellbeing. The broad aim of the two-day program was therefore to examine the ways in which we can continue to develop a coaching culture in our context which moves beyond management and the teaching staff to include the wider AISHK community.

Initially, Jason facilitated discussion around the different dimensions of coaching which included an exploration of the distinction between coaching and mentoring. While mentoring is more directive with an emphasis on the leader informing, instructing or providing guidance, coaching positions the leader as a facilitator of self-directed learning and development for the ‘coachee’. Historically in education circles, it can be argued that the default position for school leaders has been as a mentor in an expert-novice relationship. In recent years, however, the application of coaching initiatives in schools, including those in Australia, the United States and the United Kingdom, has enhanced the quality of teaching and learning and improved the wellbeing and performance of staff and students. Effective coaching programs are grounded in best practice and are solutions-focused. They align trust and relationship building with an organisation’s vision, strategy and management processes and create an environment where people ‘get where they need to be’.

In his work with the staff, Jason highlighted the importance of key coaching skills including empathising, being succinct, listening actively, asking the best questions and giving feedback. Effective coaches are non-judgemental, put their own agendas aside, ‘are present’ for the coachee and grasp that person’s perspective. They have the mindset that ‘positive beats negative’ and they have the will to move the coachee to action.

Over the course of the weekend, we were able to identify the steps required to facilitate agency for our teachers and take coaching forward in our individual contexts. We were able to reflect on the times when we have observed effective coaching and role-play conversations around realistic and achievable goals using a coaching framework. Jason spoke of the importance of ‘the way you show up as a coach’ including being open-minded and respectful, acknowledging that others are experts in their world and looking for what’s already working well and building upon this. He referred to this as a ‘way of being’ in the context of emotional wellbeing within the coaching framework.

Without exception, we ended the two days feeling that we had gained incredibly valuable insights into the ways in which a coaching approach can have a profound impact in our AISHK context. For Jason, his experience in working with our staff and optimism for the opportunities that lay ahead are perhaps best summed up in his tweet at the end of the workshop:

Wonderful finish with the Australian International School, Hong Kong. What a committed team of talented people. Saturday and Sunday Introduction to Leadership Coaching

— Jason Pascoe (@jpgci) February 24, 2019

Chris McCorkell | Dean of Studies, Secondary Cameron Reed | Dean of Studies, Primary