Investing in ‘Me’ Time as a Headteacher

Coaching is a tool that has been used in the education sector for many years, but its impact never ceases to amaze me.  I have been coached and have coached others throughout my career; the benefits are manifold.  Amongst many other advantageous outcomes, coaching can include empowering the coachee to:

Become self-reliant

Communicate more effectively

Develop new ways of thinking

Take greater responsibility for their actions

Contribute more to their team

Establish goals and take action towards achieving them

Improve job and life satisfaction

Work more productively with others

Personally, coaching has helped me to clarify my thinking, empowered my decision making and enabled me to make changes to my leadership that have had an immediate and long-term impact for me personally and for my school.  As a coach, I have supported colleagues to make small and significant changes as well as large life-altering decisions that have long-lasting impact and benefits.

In a small school like mine (and indeed, in most schools) it is always tricky to practise coaching within the staff team.  In order for coaching to be at its most effective, the relationship between coach and coachee needs to be built on trust; this can be hard to establish if your coach is also your line manager who may also be in control of the appraisal process.  It is best therefore to engage a coach from another setting and, in the past, I have successfully set up a joint coaching scheme with another school where Head coached Head, Deputy coached Deputy and so on through each role and responsibility.  This was a cost-effective way to provide coaching to a wide range of staff. It also had benefits for both schools in terms of networking, establishing strong relationships and creating support mechanisms that went beyond the coaching sessions.

Time is such an important factor in coaching as there needs to be a firm agreement that sessions will be ring-fenced and cancelling is non-negotiable.  Commitment to the sessions is paramount for all concerned if it is to be successful.  The most effective coaching takes place with participants who are willing.  It sounds perfectly obvious but if the coachee is open to discussion, to being challenged, to thinking for themselves and to taking action, then the sessions should be hugely beneficial to the coachee and, by default, the school they work in. 

Coaching in its purest form, involves the coach supporting the coachee to identify and then find solutions to the challenges in their life.  It may be that what is needed in some circumstances is a coach /mentor; someone who has experience of the role being performed and who can switch, with your agreement, out of the coaching role and into a more advisory role.  The important part is to ensure the initial pre-coaching agreement is transparent so that expectations on both sides are clear.

What Coaching is available to you?

Kent Association of Headteachers believe coaching should be offered to all new Headteachers.  As a result, colleagues who are new to headship in Kent, will be offered the opportunity to attend a Benefits of Coaching session which will serve to introduce new Headteachers to the potential value and impact of professional coaching. Those who wish to proceed will be offered three small group coaching sessions to establish regular coaching in the early period of their new role. 

The Education People also offer development and coaching for serving Headteachers which can be accessed via the School Improvement Team.

Investing in ‘me’ time as a leader is hugely important; it can provide the strength and distance from school that enables them to keep going with ever-increasing resilience.

For further ideas on personal development and investing in yourself please visit our Career and Development page. You will find ideas and tips on how to adopt a whole self approach to personal development via our Developing You resource.

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