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The Teaching Space Podcast

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Feb 2, 2018

Episode 8 of The Teaching Space Podcast asks and (hopefully) answers the question "what's the difference between coaching and teaching?"

Podcast Episode 8 Transcript

Welcome to episode 8 of The Teaching Space Podcast.

Today's episode asks the question "what is the difference between coaching and teaching?" This question arose out of a discussion in The Teaching Space Staff Room Facebook group. One of the members suggested this would be a good topic to cover in a podcast, so I am responding to that.

Incidentally, if you aren't a member of the Facebook group, it would be great to have you in there because, as you can see, you can influence the topics I cover on the show.


The terms teaching or training and coaching are often used interchangeably but actually, there is a distinct difference between the two, and that's what we're about to explore. 

What is Teaching?

Teaching is concerned with the acquisition of new knowledge. A teacher uses their own knowledge and experience, as they are a subject expert, to help learners learn and ultimately become more knowledgeable in their subjects.

Teaching is focused on learning, and the ownership of change lies predominately with the teacher.

Let's compare that to coaching.

What is Coaching?

The role of the coach is to help you refine and develop the skill that you have learned.

Coaches help people to help themselves.

It's assumed that if you're being coached, you have the knowledge you need already. The way a coach helps you is by asking questions and working with you to tease out that knowledge. Coaching is focused on development. 

There is a bit of a misconception that coaching is very fluffy and all about emotions and things like that. But it's not that at all. It's highly structured and it gives the ownership of change to the individual.

And that's very different teaching where the ownership of change rests with the teacher. 

The Coaching Continuum

An interesting way to think about teaching and coaching is called the coaching continuum.  There is a diagram at the end of this post. 

Just imagine a line one end has an arrow pointing to the left and one to one end has an arrow pointing to the right. So the two arrows are pointing away from each other.

One end is directive or push. And this is where the teacher is directing the conversation, knows the answer and pushes the coachee/learner towards the knowledge they need. So this is push.

The other end is non-directive or known as pull, where the coach assumes the coachee has the answer already. They might not know it yet. They just need help pulling those solutions out or bringing that knowledge out of them. 

So teaching is more push, and coaching is more pull. 

Teaching is directive. Coaching is non-directive


Let's put this into context by giving you an example that you can relate to. Let's use a technology for learning staff development situation.

A teacher might deliver a staff development session showing fellow colleagues how to use Google Drive. The teacher has the prior experience of Google Drive and they are going to impart their knowledge and experience to their colleagues, who are the learners in this situation.

In a coaching situation, you might have a technology for learning coach working with a colleague who would like to transform their teaching practice. They want to explore differentiation by using technology.

So what the coach would do is help that colleague analyze how they're using tech at the moment, look at what their aims are, and gradually, through a process of effective questioning, extract the way forward from their coachee and enable that colleague to develop their use of technology for learning.

I hope those examples have explained the difference between coaching and teaching clearly. 

Teacher or Coach?

So what are you, a teacher or a coach, or are you a combination of the two?

I genuinely believe that good teaching is a combination of teaching and coaching.

Gone are the days when the teacher was a content delivery mechanism. If your learners want to know how to do something they don't need you to tell them, they need you to create an environment in which they can learn.

If you are going to just tell them they may as well Google it. They may as well go to YouTube and find a video to show them how to do stuff.

The role of the teacher is to facilitate learning and by becoming a facilitator, surely you are taking on the mantle of the coach on many occasions?


I think this could be a really interesting conversation for us to have in our Facebook group, so if you aren't a member please join us.

Let's talk about the fact that I don't see many teachers being trained to be better coaches. Surely coaching should form a really big part of our teacher training qualifications? This is definitely a good conversation to be had.  

Wrap Up

Please consider leaving a positive iTunes review for the podcast. By doing this you will ensure that the podcast is presented to people who search for teaching podcasts. And that means that we can get more teachers and trainers listening to the show. Thank you so much for doing that.

Thank you for joining me. I hope you enjoyed episode 8 and that you'll tune in next time.