Definition of coaching and mentoring

The terms coaching and mentoring describe a continuous two-way process through which the person in the role of coach/mentor, uses questions, discussion and guided activity to help the person being coached/mentored, to:

  • solve problems;
  • address issues and/or;
  • complete tasks to a higher standard than would otherwise be the case.

The aim is to improve performance and make a direct contribution to the person’s learning and development.

Coaching and mentoring are different activities but the key principles are similar. Common elements, in an educational context, include:

  • a learning conversation;
  • reflection and sharing;
  • agreed outcomes;
  • focus on learning and teaching;
  • mutual benefit;
  • support and challenge;  
  • confidentiality.

A mentor should:

  • have relevant and similar experience to the person being mentored;
  • be able to act as a model; and
  • be able to offer advice.

A coach need not share the knowledge base of the person being coached and will use questions to challenge thinking and promote reflection.

Coaching and mentoring, and Professional Review and Development

During Professional Review and Development (PRD) conversations, effective coaching approaches ensure the reviewee is appropriately supported and challenged.

Reviewers should receive training in coaching approaches to be able to provide appropriate challenge and support.

Reviewees should be familiar with the principles of coaching to understand that they will be challenged and supported through coaching questions to encourage deeper thinking and reflection, to avoid the sense of unease and threat.

Further development of the relevant skills and dispositions would enhance the quality of PRD for all teachers and would support the cultural shift that will encourage and empower teachers to take responsibility for their professional learning.

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