Performance Coaching at the Alice Smith School

At the Alice Smith School, Secondary Principal, Dr. Sarah Howling, has spearheaded the introduction of a coaching culture grounded in systems of collaboration and self-directed professional growth.

Photo: The Alice Smith School

Coaching is not just a set of skills: it is an attitude and mindset that forges and strengthens relationships, decision making, strategic planning and performance. In the field of education, it can be the foundation of powerful learning and teaching – empowering students to be independent minded and resilient thinkers, and fostering a goal-centred and collaborative approach to professional learning for teachers.

Dr. Howling has been Secondary Principal of the Alice Smith School for four years and has established a reputation as forward-thinking, innovative and people-centred in her approach to leadership. Her many years of teaching and leadership experience have taken her to schools as far apart as Argentina and Hong Kong. With an MBA and a Doctorate from Leicester University, Dr. Howling is a firm believer in performance coaching as a necessary tool to enhance both job and personal performance, which is why the leadership team at Alice Smith is committed to building coaching ideologically and systemically into their professional learning and growth structures.

Coaching at the Alice Smith School

We send our children to school to be inspired and to aspire to be enthusiastic and lifelong learners. The difference between a good and an outstanding education is really down to the teachers. At Alice Smith, where teaching was and is excellent, the teaching community continually seeks out opportunities to grow and learn professionally, with the aim to lead in education both within and beyond the classroom. Coaching provides teachers and students alike with a language and mindset of growth and a belief in the ability of self and others to work through challenges, thereby building resilience.

Beginning by investing in coach training through Culture At Work, and accredited by the Institute of Leadership and Management (ILM), an initial 24 primary and secondary teachers were trained during the 2015/16 academic year and Dr. Howling became a certified trainer. By the end of the following year there were 60 accredited coaches in school. With such enthusiasm and expertise on staff, what resulted at this point was a philosophical shift towards peer support, collaboration and professional growth, enhanced pro-social values and an ethic of care, all of which began to impact upon classroom practice and the quality of relationships across the school community.

What does this all mean for parents?

Teachers are applying their coaching skills and ethos within the classroom, augmenting the teaching process. Student reflection, assessment, feedback and learning as a whole has been enhanced. Parents and students have been introduced to coaching through workshops, which have proven popular and highly effective. The next step for Alice Smith will be in April and May of this year, when they will launch coaching to their local and regional community with a series of coaching events and external coaching training.

For more information on the Alice Smith School and faculty, head here.

Tags: Interviews, Features, KLASS
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