Principles of Coaching and Instructing Closely Related

Yesterday, I had the fortunate opportunity to attend the ASTD-NRC presentation by Carl Dierschow, a Business Coach with Small Fish. I was pleased to discover the close relationship of his presentation “If I’m leading why is nobody following?”and my recent post, “What makes a motivating instructor?”  

In his presentation, he outlined five principles:

  1. Trust the client
  2. Partnership
  3. Building from possibility
  4. Presence
  5. Accept, blend, create

I was struck by how close the principles related to the five pillars outlined by Wlodkowski in his book, Enhancing Adult Motivation to Learn.

Dierschow pointed out that clients bring experience to the coaching session and it must be respected. Wlodkowski also points out that you can not really begin a learning session until you understand the experience the learner brings to the learning session. Part of being the “expert” is knowing when to sit back and listen to the experience of others.

The idea of partnership is about being equals in the relationship, again, this is similar in a learning environment. While the experience of the instructor is often more in a learning environment, the learners also bring their experience to the session and help to expand the learning environment.

I enjoyed the idea of building from possibility. This really emphasized the idea of rather than presenting a formal sterile learning situation to instead stay open to ideas. A new approach may result in a more exciting learning opportunity for all involved.

For me, the idea of presence was more than just being a great listener, it also incorporates the ideas of empathy, enthusiasm, clarity, and cultural responsiveness. It means being respectful to everyone in a learning situation, reserving judgment, and allowing ideas to flow.

Finally, the idea of accept, blend, and create is a realization that learning is social.  The advancement of ideas typically comes through dialogue. Being accepting of ideas will help develop and build new ideas.

I see coaching and instructing to be closely related. In this instance, the principles of being a good coach and a good instructor overlap. Where do you see the difference between the two?

1 thought on “Principles of Coaching and Instructing Closely Related”

  1. Thanks for the kind words, Stan!

    In my mind, the primary difference is that an instructor has a specific objective agenda to teach, while a coach’s agenda is to adopt the client’s agenda. But many times that’s more of a theoretical distinction than practical when you realize that the agenda of the instructor teaching isn’t nearly as important as the student’s agenda to learn.

    Even to the extent where it doesn’t even matter if the instructor teaches if the student learns. You realize then that the instructor becomes more of a facilitator of learning, which then allows for a much more coach-like attitude and approach. The two roles start looking more similar than distinct when you start taking that perspective.


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