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Defining coaching terms

March 14, 2015

Change – Complex, multifaceted and unpredictable:

The change process is often non-linear and discontinuous, appearing or being experienced as a set of discoveries or epiphanies (Boyatzis, 2006, p. 608).


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Coaching – Many models exist. For example, GROW models of coaching recommend the attainment of performance goals or specific, measurable targets as a means of sustaining effective improvements. These strategies harness behavioural psychology and emotional intelligence theories (Hay Group, 2013; Whitmore, 2009).

Coaching is also deemed a resonant leadership style which assists employees to improve their performance, leads to highly positive outcomes, and “connects what a person wants with the organization’s goals” (Goleman, Boyatzis & McKee, 2002, p. 70).

Since leaders in any workplace are expected to be effective at motivating staff and enhancing performance, developing coaching skills is also valued as a means of facilitating individual growth and, by association, achieving organisational change (Fullan, 2009; Grant, 2010).

Cognitive coaching

a nonjudgmental process of mediation applied to those human life encounters, events, and circumstances that can be seized as opportunities to enhance one’s own and another’s resourcefulness (Costa & Garmston, 2002, p. 29).

Double-loop learning – Seeking change within an uncertain system demands attendance to context variables in order to learn how adjustments cause “ripples of change to fan out” (Argyris & Schon, 1974, p.19). Double-loop learning occurs when errors are detected and corrected through

modification of an organization’s underlying norms, policies and objectives (Smith, 2013, para 18).


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Espoused theory – theory of action applying to a situation which would usually be communicated verbally as a sign of allegiance; often marked by contrast to theory in use (Argyris & Schon, 1974).

Feedback – A crucial element in the learning process, quality feedback for teachers improves effectiveness and enhances professional growth (Feeney 2007); feedback is also “an important correlate of student achievement” (Hattie, 2009. p. 4). The feedback process is an example of double-loop learning where the most important feature of effective teaching is established as creating

situations in classrooms for the teachers to receive more feedback about their teaching – and then the ripple effect back to the student was high (Hattie & Timperley cited in Hattie, 2009, p. 12).

GERM – the Global Education Reform Movement has evolved through shared assumptions, and an increased emphasis on sharing policies and practices driven by international interests “through their interventions in national education reforms and policy-making processes” (Sahlberg, 2011, p. 99).

Performance and development – Endorsed national framework designed to create “a culture of teacher quality, feedback and growth for all teachers within all schools” (AITSL, 2014, para 1).

Performativity – A new mode of state regulation in which management of performance is enacted as both a divisive means and end in a reform process which re-centralises power in a culture of performativity (Ball, 2003).

Performativity is a technology, a culture and a mode of regulation that employs judgements, comparisons and displays as means of incentive, control, attrition and change based on rewards and sanctions (both material and symbolic) (Ball, 2003, p. 216).

Professional development – practices which are deemed worthy of seeking out for learning purposes, but which are also criticised for their failure to produce “little impact on improved student learning” (Cole, 2004, p. 2).

Professional learning community – Emerged as a term to describe collaborative processes in the 1990s yet, when superficial, criticised for failure to build or develop “deep change in the cultures of their schools or their district” (Hargreaves & Fullan, 2012, p. 129).

Through realignment with passions and visionary purpose, change agendas as distinct from mandates will generate a more inspiring sense of pull (Hargreaves & Fullan, 2012).


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Quality teaching – Rather than a prescribed list of professional attributes, quality teaching is conceived as problematic, and definitions of professional identity – what counts as outcomes, and how to measure them – is patently a site for struggle (Ozga, 2000; Sachs, 2001).

Reflective practice – Cyclic process of review where

personal reflection on one’s own experience is a relevant and important method for improving subsequent action and building a repertoire of professional knowledge (Lipton, 1993, p. 4).

According to Schon, the reflective practitioner operates spontaneously in everyday life, thus attending both to actions and feedback loops which is termed knowing-in-action (Schon, 1983, p.49).

Theory of action – “a set of rules that individuals use to design and implement their own behavior as well as to understand the behavior of others” (Argyris, 1991, p. 103).

Theory in use – Beliefs which “govern actual behaviour and tend to be tacit structures” (Smith, 2001, 2013, para 9).

Trust –Fundamental necessity for authentic social relationships; essential to the development of collaborative processes required to sustain professional learning communities. Paradoxically, trust is eroded within rigid system structures which undermine professionalism by privileging flexibility (Bottery, 2003).


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Selected references

AITSL. (2014). Australian teacher performance and development framework. Retrieved March 14, 2015

Argyris, C. (1991). Teaching smart people how to learn. Harvard Business Review, 69(3), p.99-109. Retrieved March 14, 2015.

Argyris, C. & Schon, D. (1974). Theory in practice: Increasing professional effectiveness. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass Publishers.

Ball, S.J. (2003). The teacher’s soul and the terrors of performativity. Journal of Education Policy, 18(2), pp. 215-228. Retrieved March 14, 2015

Bottery, M. (2003). The management and mismanagement of trust. Educational Management Administration & Leadership 31(3), pp. 245-261. Retrieved July 21, 2014

Boyatzis, R.E. (2006). An overview of intentional change from a complexity perspective. The Journal of Management Development, 25(7), pp. 607-623.

Cole, P. (2004). Professional development: A great way to avoid change. Melbourne: IARTV Seminar Series No. 140. Retrieved July 27, 2014

Costa, A.L. & Garmston, R.J. (2002). Cognitive coaching: A foundation for renaissance schools. Victoria, Australia: Hawker, Brownlow Education.

Feeney, E. (2007). Quality feedback: The essential ingredient for teacher success. The Clearing House: A Journal of Educational Strategies, Issues and Ideas, 80(4), pp. 191-198.

Fullan, M. (2009). The challenge of change: Start school improvement now! Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin.

Goleman, D., Boyatis, R. & McKee, A. (2002). Primal leadership: Realizing the power of emotional intelligence. Boston: Harvard Business School Press.

Grant, A.M. (2010). It takes time: A stages of change perspective on the adoption of workplace coaching skills. Journal of Change Management, 10(1), pp.61-77.

Hargreaves. A. & Fullan, M. (2012). Professional capital: Transforming teaching in every school. New York: Teachers College Press.

Hattie, J. (2009). Visible learning: A synthesis of over 800 meta-analyses relating to achievement. London and New York: Routledge.

Hay Group. (2013). Coaching environmental scan: summary of selected literature, models and current practices Retrieved January 22, 2015—coaching-summary-of-selected-literature-models-and-current-practices

Lipton, L. (1993). Transforming information into knowledge: Structured reflection in administrative practice. Paper presented at the annual meeting of the American Educational Research association, Atlanta, GA. Retrieved February 20, 2015

Ozga, J. (2000). Policy research in educational settings: Contested terrain. Buckingham: Open University Press.

Sachs, J. (2001). Teacher professional identity: Competing discourses, competing outcomes, Journal of Educational Policy, 16(2), pp. 149-161. Retrieved August 16, 2014

Sahlberg, P. (2011). Finnish lessons: What can the world learn from educational change in Finland? New York: Teachers College Press.

Schon, D.A. (1983). The reflective practitioner: How professionals think in action. New York:  Basic Books.

Smith, M. K. (2013). Chris Argyris: theories of action, double-loop learning and organizational learning. The Encyclopedia of Informal Education. Retrieved March 14, 2015

Whitmore, J. (2009). Coaching for performance: GROWing human potential and purpose (4th Ed.). London, Boston: Nicholas Brealey Publishing.

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