Coaching as part of initial teacher training

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Coaching is definitely turning up in many areas of training for teachers. In all of the NPQ qualifications for middle leaders, senior leaders, head teachers and executive head teachers, there are elements of coaching within these programmes. Either coaching being offered to the leaders, or coach training being provided for them. 

Trainee teachers get lots of input – training, modelling and mentoring. 

One school I worked in was a school that took on student teachers. They arrived with us in October for their first round of teaching practice, having had a half a term at a university. The fear in their eyes was palpable! They had been given much information on what to do and how to do it, but their level of confidence was pretty low. 

No doubt they had been well informed as to what to do and how to do it well. And also, no doubt if they had been offered some “clear your worries” type of coaching, that could have helped settle the nerves somewhat. 

In addition to learning the technical information about teaching, having reflective time in coaching could help the early nerve settling. 

Coaching can unlock the personal relationship to teaching approaches 

Teaching is a rich combination of technical and interpersonal skills. Often traits which are useful in teachers are being confident, organised, extroverted, and quite courageous. Those who don’t have these traits strongly still need to demonstrate them, which may be a challenge. 

As an example, teachers may have to take quite a robust approach to behaviour management, to challenging underperformance or to being quite direct. Anyone can learn the techniques of doing this well. But the exploration of the worries and feelings behind having to do this may need exploring.  

One to one coaching will give trainee teachers the opportunity to explore this and move beyond the worries. 

A typical approach to helping someone in training who says “I can’t do it/don’t feel comfortable doing it” is to provide more information, resource or technique. That may work for some. But I would suggest that an inquiry through coaching will be more useful. Asking what the obstacles, barriers, or alternative approaches could be, give our trainee teacher the opportunity to talk this thing through and understand where they are at with it. 

Coaching can be the multiplier to get the training embedded 

In the UK the amount of time allocated for teacher training is less than in more advanced education systems such an in Scandinavia. And increasingly, we are seeing even shorter teacher training programmes. In some cases, it is a matter of weeks or a month before a teacher in training finds themselves in a classroom. 

Having a coaching approach available for the trainee teacher can help them embed their own learning from their teacher training. They will be able to have their own professional development plan, identify their strengths and weaknesses, and bring them to their coach. This may minimize any negative impact of having short teacher training programmes. 

Not all teachers will struggle with the same competencies 

Teacher training institutions will be very good at identifying which aspect of the training teachers commonly find easy or difficult. But not every teacher in training will be the same 

A friend of mine when they were in training found the technology way harder than all of their classmates. They shared with me “I didn’t feel that I could keep on asking for help as I was slowing things down for everyone else, but I did feel quite stuck.”  

This is a really good example of where some coaching would have supported this trainee teacher to be able to explore her fears, worries and lack of confidence. 

Final thoughts 

Teaching, as learning, are emotional activities. Feelings and worries get brought up. That’s why it makes for good telly – educating Essex/ Yorkshire/ Manchester have been programmes with record viewings.  

Experienced teachers are able to settle with their sense of confidence, self-belief and ability to do their job well. Trainee teachers will move towards that but have a challenging journey ahead of them. In addition to all the external pressures, they may be plagued with “I’m not good enough” types of thoughts. Coaching gives a safe outlet for exploring these. It may reduce dropout rates in teacher training. And it may ultimately help new teachers become confident and skilled that bit quicker. 

If you were stimulated by this article and want to know more about how to use coaching for your career, your organisation or your life generally, then get in contact. Email us at or book in a time for a 30-minute phone or Zoom call  

We look forward to hearing from you! 

Charlie Warshawski is a leadership coach and coach trainer. He runs an accredited coach training organisation, Love Your Coaching, offering coaching qualifications. In his coaching, he works 1:1 with leaders, business owners and entrepreneurs, supporting them on topics that are both professional and personal – according to their needs 

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