Growth Coaching – Part 1. Mentoring vs Coaching

Do you believe in fate? If you do, you might consider it serendipitous the way my attendance at The Growth Coaching New Zealand’s Introduction to Leadership Coaching two-day workshop in Palmerston North this week. I only discovered the workshop last week as I was spending some time preparing my proposal for indirect support as part of the Resource Teacher of Literacy (RT:Lit) service in my cluster. Fortunately, I was able to enroll in the course and take the time from my working week to undertake it. I’m really pleased I did.

The word coaching had leapt out at me in my Professional Practice Manual (PPM, MOE, 2016). When outlining indirect supplementary support it says it “involves the RTLit supporting/coaching the classroom teacher to deliver appropriately designed learning opportunities within the classroom programme”.  As I am creating a proposal to maximise my indirect support with schools, teachers, and students, I suddenly thought I would try and find some professional development around coaching.

Growth coaching was recommended by a twitter friend, and also the website looked excellent. Also, a big plus was it was in Palmerston North, not too far from work. Anything I can do during the working week within my area gets a gold star in my book.

Enough with the preamble, let’s get down to it…

The first aspect we looked at was the difference between mentoring and coaching. I’ve had Mentoring in my job description before, so this was interesting for me. Basically, it would seem –

  • Mentoring is more directive – hierarchical – someone you want to emulate
  • Mentor has the knowledge and experience that they are going to impart. “This is how we do this…”


Whereas, for coaching –

  • Coaches allow people to discover
  • For a coach, it is not your story – it is not up to you to give the answers…
  • A coach does need to clarify what the person said. Don’t share opinions. Empathise, don’t sympathise.
  • Through coaching we want people to learn, not to be dependent.
  • Developing the culture where it is done for themselves. Teaching people to think,  Self-responsibility.
  • A coach does not know where they are going to end up.


Initially, I was not sure this was going to work very well for my job – RTLits need to give resources and ideas, and model or demonstrate how things can be done. Where did that fit into coaching model? I also have a place I want (even need) to end up – with accelerated progress towards the standards for referred students. I feel better now about its place though and where I can fit it in. I also feel that coaching would not be the only tool I would use as part of my indirect model, but for some teachers, it could be extremely valuable. 

This diagram was not one from the course, but I did like the addition of advising and also the questions in italics underneath – I think in my job I will need to slip up and down this scale for different situations and different teachers. teaserbox_35549046

I very much liked the idea that coaching was done “with” the person being coached, not done “to” or “at” them. It is about the coachee eExamining their own beliefs and assumptions. Letting them talk and verbalise helps them. I also like that coaching is individual – it is important to establish relationships and is about the pace of the person. However, this is another difficult factor to get into education with so many time pressures! It is about achieving the goals of the individual.

Where are you today? (Existing state)…

Where are you going? (Desired state – is it feasible)…

How will you get there? (Strengths, Motivation, Environment, What will help? Support? Access? Barriers?)  COACHING comes in here. 

Coaching had two outcomes that I thought were actually vital to my success with indirect support for teachers:

  • Awareness of the changes they need to make and move to acting on it rather than being acted upon.
  • Responsibility – a commitment to moving forward. Responsibility and ownership for the change.

An interesting longitudinal study was done by Joyce & Showers:


A fellow learner at the course summed it up when we discussed that an average idea from the person will trump a fantastic idea from someone else as they will take ownership and responsibility for the idea, and ultimately see it through to success (or change it if need be!). Looking through my notes, I think this came from Tony Stoltzfus:

  • Your own insight is more powerful than my advice.
  • A less optimal solution the coachee develops often produces better results than the ‘right answer’ coming from the coach.


So, it would seem coaching is great right? What is it though, and how do we do it? More in Part 2…coming soon…



Growth Coaching – Part 1. Mentoring vs Coaching

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