In Conversation with Nicholas McKie: Coaching in Education

Ahead of the Teacher Retention and Professional Development Conference, on the 9th of June, we had a chat with Professional Certified Coach, Nicholas McKie, on the importance of coaching to support professional development. 

  • Tell us a little bit about yourself, how you got into coaching and what you are currently working on.

As the Founder and Director of Persyou, I specialise in executive leadership coaching and development with leaders across the education sector. I am a Professional Certified Coach with the International Coaching Federation (ICF) and I am also an Associate Professor having developed and led the inaugural PGCE international programme at the University of Warwick, UK as well as a former international school Principal and UK school inspector. I’ve been lucky enough to a have had a career path that has been rich and diverse, starting as a professional bassoon player, before entering teaching in the UK and then internationally. I’ve led schools in Japan, Egypt, China, the US as well as the UK. Coaching has weaved its way through all my experiences. I am currently working with a range of international school leaders, schools and teams all over the world as well as delivering coaching and leadership training. My popular podcast, ‘Inspiring Leadership’ brings engaging stories, insight and expertise from across the world of educational leadership, supported by the Federation Of British International Schools In Asia (FOBISIA).

  • Why do you think there is a growing recognition of coaching as a form of professional development in education?

Whilst there is still a place for one day training, sustainable and targeted support for individuals, groups or teams can be much more beneficial. This is about developing dialogic partnerships that encourages engagement, development and learning across the sector. Roles in education are now so much more complex and dynamic that to develop and support people we need to meet them where they are at which may not be in a one size fits all environment.

  • Why is it important to create a coaching culture in schools, and how can coaching transform educational leadership and promote healthy performance?

Typically in education I have experienced a majority of coaching to be framed around basic coaching models, usually in 1-1 silos. Creating a coaching culture necessitates engagement involving all stakeholders led by appropriately trained people. Coaching initiatives need support at all levels and a community of practice is key as well as focused strategic development planning. A coaching culture is one where coaching is the predominant style of managing and working together, and where commitment to grow the organisation is embedded in a parallel commitment to grow the people in the organisation (Clutterbuck, 2018). This commitment strengthens healthy relationships and communication across a school.

  • What advice would you give to a senior leader who is struggling with teacher burnout and staff retention, particularly as a result of the global pandemic?

The first step is to get clarity on the situation which involves creating self-awareness. This will require you to create the space to step back, see things for what they are and challenge your thinking on issues. As Coaches, through skilled dialogue we can invite and work with our leaders in this space, articulating and making meaning. It is from this space that change and informed decisions can emerge.

To hear more about coaching in education, its importance in supporting effective professional development, and how to create a successful school culture, join Nicholas and our other impressive speakers at the Teacher Retention and Professional Development Conference, on the 9th of June.