Teaching Vs. Coaching

“Tell me and I forget, teach me and I may remember, involve me and I learn.”

I help coach my kids all the time. Although, I didn’t realize this until after I became a coach. I thought of my interactions with my kids as teaching rather than coaching. The difference wasn’t really apparent, until one day I was “teaching” my seven year old to ride her bike.

At first, I showed her how it was done by doing it myself. Then, I instructed her on what she is to do while getting started, during, and for when she wanted to stop. Then I let her get to it.

Now if she got off to a good start but failed to stop properly and fell off her bike because of balance, then one might think, “Well, I taught her how to ride and she just didn’t follow through”. Although this may be correct and the student didn’t produce the same result as the teaching, it’s probably because the evolution of the lesson had failed to mature into coaching.

Of course both teaching and coaching are gifts to a student in helping them with a particular skill or sharing of knowledge but one is definitely more of a one way street. A person that shows you how to do something or shares some piece of information is simply teaching you. The role of the teacher is to facilitate learning and by becoming a facilitator.

Coaching on the other hand picks up where teaching left off – a cyclical exchange of information and interaction unique to the student. Coaching is obtaining the desired outcome through constant observation of the student while they adopt and apply the input from the coach in the feedback loop – coaches help people to help themselves.

Think about who your favorite teachers were. I bet you’ll find that the thing that made them so great was not just the way they taught you. Most likely, they also watched how you did something and gave you constructive feedback.

The best teachers aren’t just teachers, their also coaches. Same could be said for parents.

As my daughter began to ride her bike after every failed attempt, I would run alongside her to coach her as to what to do next and communicate aspects such as how it should feel, timing, and physical queuing through touch and verbal cueing. Eventually, she was able to apply the coaching of knowledge she already knew to riding her bike.

This interaction between coach and student lends to an organic and constructive environment and establishes a trusted relationship between the two .It is this type of trusted relationship that we should strive to build not only with students and athletes but with our children as well.

Everyone can benefit from coaching. The key is in realizing whether we are coaching or simply just teaching. It’s definitely more commonplace to just want to teach rather than put in the energy to coach – but the reward is far greater in the connecting and building of relationships while reaching a specific goal or outcome together.






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