If we encourage or inspire one more child or person then our effort is worthwhile

TimeMay 1, 2019 by ELT forum

Mike Shreeve is an English teacher, teacher trainer and a coach.  He has taught for the last few years in Pilgrims summer teacher training school the coaching with NLP and teaching difficult learners. He has also worked in a business and professional context.

Mike lives in Brighton and his greatest hobby is playing tennis. 

He believes that „Teachers are human beings, too“ (workshop at Eltforum on June 7, 2019) and his workshop on Saturday June 8 will be aimed at using coaching methods in English classrooms and for effective management and leadership.


When did you find your coaching voice?

It was probably back in the days of first learning NLP. I found that I really enjoyed relating to another person this way and also being coached. I took on a coach when I first set up my own business, it really helped me. I then tentatively experimented coaching friends and individual students until one day I thought “this is me!“

What has been your most fullfilling experience as a coach?

I know it sounds glib but to some extent every time I coach I feel priviledged to be working with someone who has trusted me to support them and who have given me their full attention.

Three  memories that strike me as I answer :

  • In the early days of coaching I  used a 360  feedback tool at the start of a coaching programme and I was giving feedback to my client from her colleagues who had rated her so highly that she started crying and said this had changed her opinion of herself as up to then her boss had only been giving her negative comments. She upped and left the job and became a very prominent member of her industry, a female role model achieving outstanding things.
  • A second example was when a young entrepreneur realised that he had been influenced by a negative role model that had stopped him becoming the person he wanted to be, as soon as he realised this he stepped away and created several businesses.
  • Often changes are not as spectacular as this but I enjoy watching someone, change learn and grow especially when they do something that they thought they couldn’t. One of the most satistifying in a language coaching context, was coaching someone from virtually no language to being able to present in English in a technical conference in front of 500 people. To witness the joy of learning was even more fulfilling than the result he achieved.

What does teaching have in common with coaching?

In my opinion, coaching is a particular approach to teaching. The prime concern of the coach  is to ensure that the coached person takes responsibility for their learning and gain insight into their learning process. Often teaching has wider aims such as passing on knowledge, directing behaviour, as well as these aims. For me coaching gives more emphasis to the psychological approach but both teaching and coaching are concerned with effective learning.

How can we achieve a positive long-term change in behaviour?

For change to happen we need to work out what is stopping us doing the desired behaviour in the context of our choice. Sometimes we can do the behaviour in a certain context but not another , for example I worked with someone who had no problem doing a best man’s speech but was terrified of speaking to an audience about a technical subject.This barrier is often pyschologically based, it can be skills based or dependent on a certain way of viewing the problem. The coach’s job is to help her client overcome these barriers and then install a different habit to develop a consistent change. The latter is helped by action planning, working with supportive peers until the behaviour has stuck.

Do you agree with the statement: Every classroom is a team and every teacher is a coach?

Not really. It would certainly be an aspiration. But frequently classes are isolating, divisive and uninclusive. Sometimes it is the relationships that are not formed. In another the subject does not seem relevant, or the style of leadership in the class does not connect to the home life or culture of the student.

Not all teachers have to be coaches, they can be great an inspiring role models, or have tremendous knowledge and passion for their subject, however, the reason why I  think teachers should be coaches is given by the quote below from Carl Rodgers.(please note I have changed the gender from the original quote and added the bold)

  • “I think my deepest criticism of the educational system . . . is that it’s all based upon a distrust of the student.
  • Don’t trust her to follow her own leads; guide her; tell her what to do; tell her what she should think; tell her what she should learn.
  • Consequently, at the very age when she should be developing adult characteristics of choice and decision making, when she should be trusted on some of those things, trusted to make mistakes and to learn from those mistakes, she is, instead, regimented and shoved into a curriculum… “

How can coaching impact teachers, principals and students?

Coaching can help teachers give back some responsibility to the students and avoid too much spoonfeeding , for principals it can be a more effective way to encourage and lead their teachers and gain valuable feedback as  for students it can be empowering by being supported to make their own decisions. An additional group I  would add would be parents. Parenting is effectively coaching our children to become adults and leave the nest and with hindsight I wish I had done even more coaching with my children.

The last point I will add is that coaching is not the answer to everything and a certain humility is required and openness that we do not have all the answers. We can only do our best, keep trying and changing our approach and learn from our efforts. If we encourage or inspire one more child or person from this effort then it is worthwhile. A big part of coaching is the belief  in the potential of the person being coached as revealed in the quote below:

“People are just as wonderful as sunsets if you let them be. When I look at a sunset, I don’t find myself saying, soften the orange a bit on the right hand corner. I don’t try to control a sunset. I watch with awe as it unfolds. “Carl Rodgers.

author: Andrea Záhumenská, DOS at the Bridge

Registration for ELTFORUM 2019


#Interviews 2019

Looking forward to seeing you
all in Bratislava

7th-8th June 2019