The Coaching Agreement
As adults we have many agreements with other adults. We have agreements that describe the service we are using and explain the relationship between us. The agreements protect us, and ensure good service. Such agreements are especially important when it comes to private and intimate issues, and when working with young adults.
Teachers have agreements
Through their employment at a High School, teachers have agreements that describe their rights and expectations and responsibilities and authorities.
Dentist have agreements
That's why Dentists are allowed to dig around inside our mouths, we have an implicit agreement with them that it's OK to look in an otherwise private and intimate place.
Doctors have agreements.
That's why Doctors are allowed to look in places that we normally regard as private and intimate. They have given an Oath that promises their actions have good intentions.
Coaches have agreements
In the same way Coaches need to have a Coaching Agreement that allows them to dig around in intimate places and look at private things.
The Coaching Agreement, at 2 levels
The coaching agreement can be viewed from a macro and a micro level. By macro I mean a large overall partnership, covering at least the whole duration of the coaching partnership; and by micro I mean a partnership for the session, or part of a session.
At the Macro Level
Since the students mature during their time at the High School, it is useful to have a signed coaching agreement on paper, based on the one that your school provides. This agreement should be read and signed by the people concerned, such as administrators, teacher/coach, student and possibly parent(s) /guardian(s).
The agreement should include
The agreement should also include a description of
and relevant logistics should also be included, such as
There are a number of different situations where coaching can be carried out. Coaching can be carried out in public, in the classroom or the corridor; or in private. Coaching can be carried out at a predetermined time, or on the spur of the moment. Coaching can focus on one person, or a group. All of these situations require that a coaching agreement already be in place, otherwise it's not coaching.
At the Micro Level
At the start of each session there is an opportunity to define / refine / redefine the coaching agreement
Normally you remind each other of the existence of the coaching agreement that makes the relationship one of coach and coachee, rather than teacher and student. Often all that's required is a phrase like "Is it OK that I coach you for the next 5 minutes (pause)?"; or from the student "Would you coach me on my results?"
Coaching the Class
If you are speaking to a class, it is vital that you allow for the fact that some students might not be ready to be coached right now (even if you think they would benefit from coaching). Say "I am going to coach the whole class for the next 5 minutes about goals and results"... "if you are not ready for that please remain quiet so that the rest of the class can hear me.", or "You can answer in silence", or "Write down your answers for yourself"
Occasionally you might want to remind the class about confidentiality. Here's a way to do that. "Can we agree that everything we say in this room, stays in this room (pause)?.... does anyone disagree (pause)?". In the early day of a class's experience of coaching you might want to explain to them about the notion of confidentiality, and get them to discuss it; and the consequences of breaking it; and the benefits of keeping it.
So in summary
We need agreements to allow teachers, when working as coaches, to dig around in intimate places and look at private things. We make the agreement clear by putting it in writing and gaining credibility and support in the form of signatures. We make use of the agreement by bringing it up at the start of any coaching situation. A quick reminder of the agreement makes the coaching session stand out from ordinary conversations.
Keep the coaching sessions separate from other types of conversation. Take the time to make a break between session and conversation.
From my many visits to High Schools I have seen that increasing numbers of teachers are being asked to coach. Some clearer definitions of the similarities and differences between the roles of teacher and coach are asked for.
In this first blog, I shall look at the similarities between coaching and teaching.
The ICF description of coaching reads "Coaching is partnering with clients in a thought-provoking and creative process that inspires the client to maximize their personal and professional potential."
Moving the focus to teachers of teenaged students at High Schools, the definition of coaching might read "Coaching is partnering with students in a thought-provoking and creative process that inspires the student to maximize their personal and academic potential."
High School teachers are professionals. Can they also be expected to act as professional coaches? I think so. According to the ICF, a professional relationship exists when there is a contract that defines the responsibilities of each of the people involved. That seems to be enough to also describe a High School teacher as also professionals when they coach, although it does not define how to coach.
A description of what a coach does can be read in the document "ICF Professional Core Competencies". This description is used as the foundation for certifying professional coaches, as well as the foundation for designing and accrediting coach training courses.
The ICF description of coaches' conduct reads, "Professional coaches aspire to conduct themselves in a manner that reflects positively upon the coaching profession; they are respectful of different approaches to coaching; and recognize that they are also bound by applicable laws and regulations.".
Something similar could be said to describe teachers too. "Professional teachers aspire to conduct themselves in a manner that reflects positively upon the teaching profession; they are respectful of different approaches to teaching; and recognize that they are also bound by applicable laws and regulations."
As a member of the ICF, and as a certified coach, an ICF Professional Coach also agrees to practice the ICF Professional Core Competencies and pledges accountability to the ICF Code of Ethics. What might those docuements look like for High School teachers?
Here are two questions about the developing role of "teacher as coach".
1) Informing yourself
What's the benefit to you and your school of having clearly defined coaching Ethics and Standards?
What might the dangers be to you if you didn't have clear definitions?
2) Informing others
Who needs to know that you have a Code of Ethics and Standards regarding Coaching at your School?
How are you going to communicate this fact?
The ICF Pledge of Ethics
"As an ICF Professional Coach, I acknowledge and agree to honor my ethical and legal obligations to my coaching clients and sponsors, colleagues, and to the public at large. I pledge to comply with the ICF Code of Ethics, and to practice these standards with those whom I coach."
"If I breach this Pledge of Ethics or any part of the ICF Code of Ethics, I agree that the ICF in its sole discretion may hold me accountable for so doing. I further agree that my accountability to the ICF for any breach may include sanctions, such as loss of my ICF membership and/or my ICF Credentials."
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