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Coaching - What’s the score?

Introduction

Coaching in the Driver Triaining Industry isn’t new. In fact it has been around for at least 11 years that I know of.

I first came across it in 2005 from the book "Coaching for Performance" by Sir John Whitmore, published by Nicholas Brealey Publishing; 3rd Revised edition edition (12 Mar. 2002)

As far as I can tell, the first ADI organisation to take up the gauntlet on Coaching was the ADINJC, who in 2005 ran a series of seminars by Sir John Whitmore on Coaching and how it can be applied to Driving Instruction. You can download here the ADINJC newsletter of Dec 2005 summarising the seminars that were held that year with an article written by Lynne Barrie and many of the summary points made then resonate even now.

What surprises me today is, 11 years on, I feel we haven't really progressed that much. Coaching in Driver Training has not matured much beyond a shallow bag of tricks in Mind Mapping, Scaling, GROW and a next to useless Reflection technique. Many of the courses on offer to ADI’s only scratch the surface.

When I sit in the waiting room at my local test centre I still hear people moaning about coaching. I never hear anything positive said about it.

See my article on the Standards Check and read how Coaching influenced the new ADI Standards Check.

Does it Work?

That’s the big question. Even after 11 years there is no empirical evidence!

You will get anecdotal evidence from ADI's that are pro-coaching but that is probably more to do with cognitive dissonance than real evidence.

There is still some animosity towards coaching and many still avoid it. They will maybe do a few token techniques just to satisfy the examiner on a standards check. The most popular and easy to use techniques are Mind Mapping and Scaling.

There is a systemic problem in the Industry. The majority of people teaching coaching or the new standards check are those that have only attended the simple 1 or 2 day courses on the same. They are NOT experts! They are simply passing on the same shallow bag of tricks they learned. I see ADI's in my area, get an A at the standards check suddenly think they are experts in Client Centred teaching and now peddle standards check training! This is like learners passing the L-test and immediately think they can teach others how to pass a driving test!

This is why the new techniques are not maturing. In the land of the blind the one-eyed person is king - and there are lots of "one-eyed experts"! [Aside: It’s also why the general standard of ADI training is poor!]

So, does it work? I believe it contributes to better teaching but is not a "swiss army knife" in driving instruction. Used in conjunction with other techniques such as traditional instruction and something I found really useful - Embedded Formative Assessment, Dylan Wiliam. - then coaching can work well for some clients. Note however, it doesn't work for all clients!

How does it work?

Coaching is a technique to engage the learner in the learning process and take some responsibility for the learning.

Some want it to be used in a deluded ideal that it will somehow change learners’ attitudes and make them more responsible drivers! I don’t kid myself I can change people’s attitudes to driving - but that’s a different article - I use it simply to enhance the learning experience of my clients.

Coaching uses questioning techniques. Many Instructors struggle to see the difference between Coaching Questions and the more traditional Q&A techniques they were taught.

Traditional Q&A is used to discover what the client knows. Clients often regurgitate facts without any undersanding - and this is the problem - knowledge without understanding inhibits growth. The learning is shallow.

Coaching questions are aimed at enlightening the client! You want those "lightbulb moments". Understanding enables deeper learning and promotes growth.

A fundamental principle of coaching & CCL is the client is resourceful. This stems from the constructivist view of instruction. Your client is not a blank page, even in the first lesson! Coaching techniques capitalise on the client’s existing knowledge and resourcefulness to achieve those lightbulb moments.

This is the principle on which the book by Ian Edwards is based, Can Drivers Really Teach Themselves? and whilst I have not read the book - it would not be advanced enough for me - I have been on several of Ian’s courses since 2010 and I guarantee the book is worth buying if you’re starting out in Coaching!

More to follow ....