#educoachOC Chat 2 – Coaching and Mentoring: What’s the difference?

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Following the successful launch of the #educoachOC twitter chat last month, we’re back for our next chat on Monday 5 October at 9pm AEDT (Sydney/Melbourne time).

This month we have decided to get back to basics and attempt to clarify the key differences between coaching and mentoring. Regardless of your current level of understanding or experience of either of these, we’d very much welcome your contribution.

It would be fair to say that definitions are contested and there is a lack of clarity in some places around the differences between coaching and mentoring. A quick online search will throw up some helpful and lots of less than helpful advice from both business and educational contexts. These descriptions are sometimes contradictory or superficial and can ignore the relational and situational factors that could impact on the success of both of these strategies.

A common issue for those trying to discern between coaching and mentoring as forms of professional learning is the frequent conflation of the two terms and their conjoined use in discourse and literature.

In some ways the processes associated with both coaching and mentoring appear quite straightforward. However, both become more nuanced when we begin to consider other issues surrounding their successful implementation. Some of these might be:

  • Context – rationale, agenda, access, professional learning mix.
  • Relationships, beliefs, perceptions and intent.
  • Instigators, initiators and catalysts.
  • Terms of engagement.
  • Nature and purpose of conversations: directive – non-directive; evaluative – developmental; etc.
  • Skills, knowledge, attributes.

We want to try to facilitate a deeper conversation around the key features of both coaching and mentoring. This is not about promoting one or the other or pitting one against the other. Clarification is the goal!

If you’re in the mood for some pre-chat reading, you could start with these:

Rachel Lofthouse discusses implementation issues with coaching and mentoring in this blog and provides some much needed clarity as co-author of this report.

The General Teaching Council for Scotland have produced a webpage here that covers some of the similarities and differences between coaching and mentoring.

The Victorian Institute of Teaching have some useful mentoring advice and resources here.

Finally, and interestingly, AITSL have a section in their Teacher Toolkit entitled Coaching and Mentoring which contains lots of useful advice about coaching and only touches on mentoring (helpfully) on page 4 of this paper.

We hope that you’ll join us on Monday. If 140 characters aren’t enough please feel free to leave a comment here on our blog. 

Here are the questions for the chat:

Questions for #educoachOC Chat 2 – Coaching and Mentoring: What’s the difference?

Q1 What do you understand to be the key DIFFERENCES between coaching & mentoring?
Q2 What do you understand to be the key SIMILARITIES between coaching & mentoring?
Q3 When would mentoring or coaching be appropriate? How would you know?
Q4 To what extent does a coach or mentor need to have expertise in the coachee’s area of speciality or practice?
Q5 Looking forward: What is something you plan to do in the next month to develop your coaching knowledge or skills?
Q6 What’s your main takeaway from tonight’s chat and what would you like to discuss next time?
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