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Purpose and partnership: Training room coaching 


The Adult Learning Hub is so pleased to have Leigh Ridge as our guest contributor for this week's blog. Leigh is from Australia and is the Director of Transformation Consultancy, which delivers training room coaching online and in person. In his article, he expresses the need for a more informed and engaging approach to educator professional development. Read on to learn more...

Ok, the title of this article is not original as it was initially penned by Hargreaves and Shirley (2009) in their research titled 'The fourth way: The inspiring future of educational change', however, those words are particularly relevant when considering the future of educator professional development. 

If we are honest most educator professional development does little to enhance the student cohort learning journey and yet is this not our core business? A constructive educator professional development programme will exemplify the following traits:

  • Rapid embedding of the learning into the workplace
  • Adhesive ("sticks" and is applied to the day-to-day operations).
  • Intensive (includes one-on-one support).
  • Sustained change
  • Focused
  • Supported with active learning

There are several professional development approaches that exemplify the above traits without causing adult learning professionals to cringe! This article addresses one option: training room coaching

I have had the privilege of conducting training room coaching sessions in many diverse contexts. This is a more formative approach to continual improvement. It is not specifically aligned to career advancement, rather it is focused up developing a high-performance learning environment that produces real-world change. It is important to remember that a training room coach is evaluating the training and assessment skills on display, not the vocational skills of the trainer. 

Prior to the event, the assigned coach and educator/practitioner should meet briefly to ensure the process can be clarified and to eliminate any concerns the practitioner may have. If I'm coaching, I like to ensure the process is supportive and transparent, so I provide an outline each step of the process and the resources they will gain from the coaching experience. When the process is clearly presented to support an adult learning practitioner, the coach is welcomed as a credible pathway to continual improvement.

The advantages of using an independent adult education coach include:

  • Transparent and highly specific feedback
  • Guidance for  present and future aspirations
  • Dedicated focus upon the individual and their assigned learning environment
  • Confidentiality
  • Advice from a single source of truth

I have witnessed how this approach energizes practitioners to develop high-performance outcomes for their learners on a more ongoing basis. Additionally, the transparent feedback often makes the day-to-day responsibilities of an educator easier, as they receive a suite of simple bespoke refinements to their practice in a respectful and confidential way. The coach emphasizes their point of view and encourages curiosity towards their experiences in the classroom.

Although the training room coaching experience is not specifically focussed on career advancement explicitly, many practitioners end up advancing professionally once their training and assessment skills are enhanced through engaging with professional training room coaching. Research on this topic suggests that career promotion can occur at almost twice the rate of comparable non-participants.

It is a privilege to coach educators within their training room environment. Throughout such collaboration I frequently witness how straightforward recommendations can offer radical solutions to the complex world of training adults. The experience of 2020 has taught adult education institutions to appreciate that, at times, educators need support to refine their professional purpose via collaborative partnerships. Respectful, independent training room coaching continues to deliver this much needed professional support across countless nations and varied training rooms every day.

Do you have a voice in the world of adult learning, like Leigh? We'd love to hear from you and feature your insights in an article. Email us here to get in touch!

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