Coaching training at Markham College

Change comes to us all. Obviously, we hope change comes to students as they grow and develop through their schooldays. Change comes to teachers too. We have been modernising our curriculum and the way we do things throughout the school for a few years now. We now have to re-examine our assessment procedures to reflect this curriculum change but also to fit in with the new demands of the Ministry of Education that require a radically different approach from the past. Change can be more subtle as well, such as the increase in the use and challenges of technology in the classroom.


In order to help with these changes, Markham College has embarked on a process of training coaches among our staff members. We have launched two parallel but different paths: Growth Coaching and Instructional Coaching. Growth Coaching is more and more common in the corporate world these days. Many industry leaders will have a coach to help them sort out the issues they face into manageable timed chinks and focus on achieving their goals. So it is in education, in fact perhaps more so. Growth Coaching is, at its heart, good teaching. It is a series of techniques to enable the coach to lead the coachee to think, reflect, plan and manage the issues that confront them. Research shows that schools that have trained coaches see a measurable improvement in student learning, in teacher planning and in the quality of conversations that we have about education. 


As it is basically good teaching, we become better teachers, as coaches, as well as being able to coach each other to better performance. Indeed, we aim to teach some of our students the basic techniques of coaching so that when they have leadership opportunities, they are more effective and get more out of the students they work with.


Instructional Coaching is a slightly different process that focuses only on the teacher's professional practice in the classroom. Where a Growth Coach will be brought the issues identified by the coachee, the Instructional Coach will use videos of lessons and other evidence to identify, together, areas where the teacher can improve. Where Growth Coaching is non-directive, an Instructional Coach can propose ways the teacher may work as well as the ones the teacher may propose. There is then a follow-up gathering of evidence to see if the changes have worked. It is more time consuming and intensive, but very effective in certain cases.


This year we have trained 48 Growth Coaches across the three sections with the services of Growth Coaching International. We also have five Instructional Coaches led by Dan Rodriguez-Clarke who was himself trained in the USA last year. It has been an inspiring process to be involved in and we hope it will have a positive effect on the school, the staff and the students.