Why the future of teaching will depend on coaching skills

Uncategorized May 16, 2022
We all know how important it is to help our students develop critical 21st century skills in order to be successful in an uncertain future, where many of today's jobs will no longer exist.
But what about the role of teaching? How will we need to go about future-proofing our teaching careers? What skills will we need?
First of all, let's look at what factors are likely to affect the role of teaching in the future. Technology is a big one here. Already we have seen the rise of the information age, where information is widely available and freely accessed through the internet. The development of smart phones means that people can access whatever information they want, whenever they want, where ever they are.
Before this era, students could learn from books, or they could learn from their teachers. Teachers were the keepers of knowledge and it was their role to impart their knowledge onto their students. This role has now decreased in importance however, due to the fact that teachers cannot in any way compete with the amount of information that the internet holds. Students don't hold teachers in the same regard as prior to this era as they know that they don't have to rely on the teacher's knowledge to the same extent anymore.
This role is set to decrease even further as technology continues to advance, with the development of artificial intelligence and bio-engineering. Artificial intelligence and smart algorithms will be able to adapt flawlessly to individual learning styles and preferences, and will be able to provide instant and insightful feedback on learning.
Wearable devices, with sensors stitched into hats that monitor brain activity, will be used to provide data to computer programs to further improve learning. Virtual reality technology will become widely available and can be used to provide students with immersive experiences (imagine learning about Ancient Rome by actually being transported there virtually and being able to interact with significant figures from that time). Bioengineering developments might eventually mean that people will be able to instantly download information directly into their long-term memories (which sounds like science fiction, I know, but it is something that is on the table).
So what will this mean for us as teachers? Will technology take over the role of teaching and force us to become redundant?
I believe that the role of teachers will become more important than ever - however, the nature of the role will have to change significantly to focus more on the 'human' element of teaching, that which artificial intelligence is not capable of replicating - that is, human connection. This includes the facilitation of skills development (especially ‘soft skills’ such as communication, collaboration, critical thinking, creativity and problem solving), goal-setting, the cultivation of a growth mindset, the provision of positive learning environments, and the cultivation of strong relationships.
Central to this is the concept of becoming coaches to our students. A coach is a facilitator learning, development and growth. It is a collaborative partnership between the coach and the coachee, whereby the learning is much more personalised, and there is an ongoing process of training, observation, feedback and follow up, in order to improve performance. Coaches are also excellent motivators. As John Whitmore states, "coaching is unlocking a person's potential to maximise their own performance'.
The benefits of this are multiple. With the teacher's role being enhanced by these technological developments, their role as a coach will mean that learning can become more personalised, and students can be more effectively guided and supported towards achieving their full potentials. Learning will be more meaningful and students will be more engaged, leading to less behavioural and mental health issues. Teachers will find more satisfaction and fulfilment in their profession, and more time will become available for professional development, collaboration with colleagues, and innovations. This will lead to increased teacher retention and quality.
Of course, there are many excellent teachers out there who are already implementing elements of coaching in their classroom when it is possible, however the demands of large class sizes, content delivery, and assessment often don't allow enough time for this. In addition, there are also many teachers who don't know how to coach effectively, as it is not something that we are specifically taught when we trained to become a teacher.
If you would like to know more about how to become an effective coach for your students, or for your colleagues for that matter, you might be interested in joining our online professional learning community, Transformational Teachers, where we delve into this topic in-depth. Here you can also access a wide range of PD sessions, coaching sessions, community, and bonus resources. 
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