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John Foreman (Head of Humanities), Cedars Academy

Educational Coaching Model Reduces Stress & Gets Better Work/Life Balance for HOD & Colleague (in 15 minutes!)

WARNING: Educational Coaching Systems are NOT all the same!

John shares how the Coachinginschools system helped him (and a colleague) to reduce stress and get better work/life balance.

When Head of Faulty John Foreman had 2 members of staff leave, he felt under enormous pressure. He was doing the work of 3 people, running 4 departments, AND dealing with all difficulties COVID threw at schools… until the Coachinginschools System helped him realise he could use Coaching to manage his workload, reduce stress & get better work/life balance. Not only that, but he was able to help a colleague he coached to do the same!

Interview Transcript

John:

My name’s John Foreman. I’m the Head of Humanities. The school I work at is a very mixed secondary modern school – or is an academy – And it’s part of a fairly large trust, but not huge, in Leicestershire.

Annie:

That’s brilliant. Thanks, John. So how did using the Coachinginschools system make your job and/or your life easier?

John:

So the model of it really helped to, kind of, set things up – and then work through, sort of, what we were doing, and what I was doing – and then solutions to it as well. I had a member of staff leave in March. I then had another one leave at Easter. And I was doing all the planning, and all the marking, for those two members of staff.

Annie:

Wow!

John:

Plus deal with, er, how can I put it? …A department that was in a state of flux, if I can call it that. And there was a lot going on. Obviously COVID, which didn’t make things, you know, easy either. And it was a case of, you know, all of that going on – and me having to do all of those things! Plus, you know, just run a normal department of, yeah, well, History, Geography, RE. And oversee Social Sciences. Plus it’s just me! There isn’t anyone else!

Annie:

Gosh!

John:

So, yeah, it was just the amount, and all of that, that goes with that. That I felt, you know, it got, you know, it can get quite stressful. So it gave some perspective on it and it made me feel less stressed certainly by the end of the coaching session.

Annie:

Oh, that’s great.

John:

I think in terms of the actual coachee that I coached, I think it was very good for him in terms of breaking down what he was trying to do in getting a better work/life balance.

Annie:

Brilliant.

John:

And I think, by him kind of breaking it down each week into small things that he had to get done, or he had to achieve. And that he had come up with, obviously. I think he, he found that useful to then help him get a better work/life balance. Yeah, definitely.

Annie:

Ah, that’s that is fantastic. So you’ve got the impact, like for you and for him. And it’s really nice to hear the professional benefits for you and also like the personal benefits for him as well, because yeah, yeah, I was, yeah. I always think, you know, something like work life balance, right. When, when you think about it, obviously if it’s out of balance, it doesn’t just affect your life. Sometimes people just think, oh yeah, that’s, that’s stressful for my life, but it actually affects you at work as well, doesn’t it?

John:

Yeah…the stress that you have – or the work/life balance – immediately affects what comes in. And that was part of what some of the issues in my faculty were. That some of the people weren’t able to deal with the work/life balance. And that then affected them at work quite a lot. Wow. And that was obviously kind of what I was having to deal with. Yeah.

Annie:

Yeah. So I’m curious, John, what kind of differences do you think it’s made on things like teaching, learning, and obviously your leadership – that kind of thing?

John:

I think it’s made me a bit more reflective. I’m trying to use some of the questions we’ve learned – like the WHIFs – with the pupils. I think it’s helped me with, I’ve got two NQTs. Well, what are ECTs now this year that I’m mentoring. And I’m trying to do a much more ‘coaching’ style with them than I think I would’ve done in the past. Because it isn’t coaching – as I’m sure you’re aware – it is mentoring. But I’m trying to do a much more coaching style of getting them to come up with the solutions – a lot more than me just going “This is what you need to do!” And, and that’s the end of it kind of thing.

Annie:

Can I just pick up on that quickly? What difference do you think that’s made, John?

John:

I think it’s made them a little bit more confident about what they’re doing.

Annie:

Brilliant.

John:

I think it’s made me feel, a little bit less under pressure to come up with stuff, you know, to be the point of focus. And hopefully it’s putting it back on them that they, they have to take responsibility for what they’re doing. Not just me sort of being the ‘stopgap’ and “Oh right. You do it!” sort of thing. Yeah, that’s been what I would say has been the impact of that. Definitely.

Annie:

Ah, that’s brilliant. So it’s helped you with questioning the children, it’s helped you with mentoring the ECTs – so turning that into coaching. Yeah. Yeah. Brilliant. Fantastic. And what would you say to someone who’s thinking of doing the coaching in schools, training John?

John:

I think it’s a really worthwhile thing to do. I really think we, you know, each teacher, it’s really good to keep reflecting. To keep, you know, that, you know, continuous learning. You know, ‘growth mindset’ thing. It’s, it really helps with that, I think as well, because you’re always picking up new things. And I think it’s useful because it enables you to talk over a problem that, and give you solutions that you perhaps wouldn’t have thought of on your own, in a sense. But also, in the heat of the moment, when you think of one thing and that’s it, I’m gonna do that. Whereas that you’re able to think of some other things that you could do, and, and sort of then debate which one is, is perhaps the best one to move forward with.

Annie:

Yeah. That’s, that’s a brilliant way of putting it because there’s always that thing, isn’t there, of that first idea isn’t always the best one?

John:

Yeah. Yeah. Agree completely. Yeah. Yeah.

Annie:

Oh, that is brilliant. Thank you. Is there anything at all that you’d like to add to that?

John:

Uh, no. I just think the model in terms of, you know, the way it goes round and that, is really structured, that enables you to have those one-on-one conversations – even if you’ve not got any experience of doing coaching or mentoring – really easily. And I think, you know, if you… Even now, I think I would still follow that because…

Annie:

Definitely!

John:

…it’s still there and very useful to use. I think it really structures your conversation of what you are having. So I did find that previous coaching could go on for some time. Whereas this, I think was quite, it was quite, you know, concise, you know, to the point. And it got there! And you were able to do it in yeah, I dunno, 15 minutes – and that was, that was really useful as well.

Annie:

Brilliant. And that’s so important cause everyone in school is so busy aren’t they?

John:

Yeah! I think in today’s climate as well, being able to have those conversations that have an effect, that are quite short, are far more efficient and effective than sitting down for an hour, and in the end, still coming up with, you know, one, one thing from it, which is not always the best thing!

Annie:

Yeah. It’s true. So you like the structure and you like the toolkit?

John:

Yeah. Yeah. Definitely!

Annie:

Music to my ears. Oh, well look, thank you so much, John. That is just really, really helpful. And I know you’re going to inspire a lot of people with what you’ve said.

John:

Okay. Thank you. That’s great. Yeah. Hopefully! 🙂

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