What are coaching and mentoring all about?
Support for coaching and mentoring
Coaching and mentoring might form part of your job role, but what do they mean and how do the roles differ from being a teacher or a trainer?
You could think of coaching as giving practical training in the short term, and mentoring as giving advice and support in the long term. Both of these roles could be considered part of teaching or training depending upon the context in which you work.
Opportunities for coaching and mentoring might occur naturally. For example, demonstrating a task to a learner in the workplace (coaching) or guiding a learner how to search for employment opportunities (mentoring). Both roles should be about helping the learner to become as independent and autonomous as possible.
Coaching could occur with more than one learner at the same time and usually relates to skills, knowledge and understanding. Mentoring is usually carried out on a one-to-one basis and relates to knowledge and understanding.
It’s useful to treat the coaching and mentoring roles in a similar way to the teaching or training roles. It’s a good idea to carry out an induction and initial assessment and to agree a few ground rules. You could adapt an individual learning plan to become a coaching or a mentoring plan. It could include aims, objectives, targets and timescales and be updated as the learner progresses.
Coaching and mentoring could occur spontaneously as the need arises, or be planned for certain dates and times. Both roles require patience and good communication skills.
Learners should be encouraged to think for themselves, reach their own decisions and set their own action points. Sessions should always end on a positive note, with both parties knowing what will happen next. If at any stage the relationship breaks down to an irrecoverable point, the learner should be referred to someone else.
There will come a point when the learner is totally independent and no longer needs the coach or mentor. This is good and means the learner is now confident and knowledgeable to carry out their role on their own.
You might be an assessor-coach as part of an apprenticeship programme, therefore your role might be slightly different to a coaching role.
If your role involves coaching and mentoring, you might like to research further using the links below, or by carrying out an internet search.
A professional working relationship can be built up over time.
It can be formal or informal and occur as and when needed.
The learner has someone to go to if they have any concerns, problems or just need someone to talk to.
The learner might progress more quickly with the right coaching/mentoring.
The coach/mentor can act as a source of expertise, be an impartial listener, provide advice and guidance, and help the learner to explore issues for themselves.
The coach/mentor can facilitate access to different experiences, activities and people.
The pace and approach of learning can be geared to the needs of the learner.
The process can improve the confidence of the learner.
If unsupervised, the learner might make mistakes which could be dangerous.
It can be time consuming.
Resources and equipment may need to be prepared in advance.
The learner may become dependent or reliant on the coach/mentor and not think things through for themselves.
The learner might need support when the coach/mentor is not available.
The learner might not feel that they can question or disagree with the coach/mentor.
The learner might not feel that they want to do what the coach/mentor has advised.
The coach/mentor might be frustrated if the learner does not take their advice.
The learner might not find out different ways of performing the task, having only ever been shown one way to do it.
The coach/mentor and the learner might not get on.
The coach/mentor might have been assigned to the learner rather than being the right person for the role, therefore they do not take it seriously.
The coach/mentor might resent the learner for the amount of their time they take up.