In brief

14th October 2005 at 01:00
Leading Coaching in Schools; By Jane Creasy and Fred Patterson

National College for School Leadership pound;10. Order from

Coaching is very fashionable. There's going to be more coaching of teachers by teachers, not just because it's cheap, but because it fits in with what we know about how adults learn. They like to learn when they can determine their own focus; through being asked questions and being given time to reflect. There is, however, considerable confusion about terms and definitions around coaching and mentoring, that this book goes some way to clarifying. Barrie Joy, from the Institute of Education's London Centre for Leadership in Learning, uses the term "mentoring-coaching", saying, "Mentoring focuses on who and where I am; coaching on where I needwant to be and how to get there."

There is much in this book to help school leaders. It's up to date and draws on examples from schools. It uses the national framework for coaching and mentoring's 10 principles that emphasise things such as how much can be learned from conversations. The book is organised around seven "action implications", such as "to develop a system, first develop yourself" and "equip staff with coaching skills".

My only reservation is that the layout does not make for an easy read. The A4 pages are full of spaces and sketches that distract and irritate rather than enhance, while the text is printed in a font that is eye-strainingly small and in colours that do nothing to help a tired reader. Much of the material from the book is on the NCSL website and, ironically, is much easier to read online. So, NCSL, think of the trees and teachers'


The Coaching Bible: the essential handbook; By Ian McDermott and Wendy Jago; Piatkus Books pound;17.99

This is a book for people who want to take their coaching skills to a higher level. Written by two experts in the field, it's not aimed specifically at staff in schools but for people interested in coaching more generally. No matter what level you're at in your coaching skills, you'll find nuggets to think about. There are useful tips to help with general work-life balance, such as the importance of creating a buffer zone between work and home. I was attracted to the comparison of coaching with the bit in the What Not to Wear TV series where the person stands in a room full of mirrors to get a good look at themselves: uncomfortable but ultimately worthwhile. The appendix has 11 coaching core competencies and handy lists of ideas for things such as active listening and powerful questioning.

Do you know what multimodal coaching is? Despite being put off by this and other fancy terms (such as remedial-generative and interpersonal-intrapsychic continuums) everything makes sense when you read about it. Which brings me to the heart of this book's success: it is beautifully written in a lively, plain-speaking style with handy examples to illustrate the authors' often complex ideas. The layout makes it a pleasure to read.

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