Do English Language Teachers Need coaching? I do.

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My previous post, Burnout in ELT  ( )  made me think of the theme Coaching for teachers, since it could be of good help to prevent burnout or, perhaps,  it could be included in the treatment of it.

I have recently attended the 52th IATEFL Conference in Brighton and, to my surprise,    the theme coaching was among the talks. Why was I surprised? Because in Brazil, where I live, coaching as it should be, seems not to be disseminated enough among English language teachers, or better saying, it seems to me that the concept has been confused with other approaches such as mentoring or even with classroom observation and feedback.

Before I start, let’s make it clear the differences between mentoring and coaching, which is crucial for the understanding of what coaching is.

Mentoring is a supportive, long-term relationship between an experienced mentor and their less experienced mentee. The  first idea is that a more senior mentor passes on knowledge and guidance as the mentee finds their feet in a new role.  However, the mentor may be older or younger than the person being mentored, but he or she must have a certain area of expertise. It is a learning and development partnership between someone with vast experience and someone who wants to learn.  ( )


What is Coaching?

Coaching is NOT:
Mentoring, therapy , counselling or  consultancy.

Coaching is a process to support one’s identification and creation of states by developing and accessing internal resources. It is a professional interaction that helps people produce extraordinary results in their lives, careers, businesses or organizations, by helping them bridge the gap between where they are NOW and where they WANT TO BE.


“Coaching consists of peer-to-peer discussions that provide the person being coached with objective feedback on their strengths and weaknesses in areas chosen by them. While discussion is led by the coach, they ask questions that allow the coachee seeking advice to reflect on their practice and life and set their own goals for improvement. This is the opposite of mentoring as the coach does not evaluate, judge or set targets, and the person being coached is in full control of the discussion. Unlike mentoring, coaching also gives the recipient more say on the direction of their professional development and encourages them to take more ownership of their CPD.” (Andrew Jones, PhD )


Coaches partner with their clients to design the life they want, bringing out their clients’ own brilliance and resources so that they can achieve excellence and create purposeful, extraordinary lives. By creating clarity, coaching moves the coachees into action, accelerating their progress by providing greater focus and awareness of all the possibilities, which exist to create fulfilling lives. In Coaching, the coachee commands the direction of the process and reaps its results.


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Professional coaches know the importance of identifying the characteristics and ethical considerations, which differentiate coaching from consulting, therapy, mentoring, counselling, or even friendship and support group membership. And it is crucial for the process to be effective.

​Coaching focuses on the present and the future, the client’s strengths, life purpose and goals, working with them to create possibilities to enrich their life. Based on the belief that all individuals are whole, capable individuals, coaching assumes the clients as experts, able to determine what is best for them. The coach works along with the coachee to maximize their personal and professional potentials, to close the gaps to create extraordinary lives.

The underlying philosophy behind coaching is that we humans have immeasurable resources of energy, wisdom, ability and genius waiting to be set in motion. We can create the life we want faster and more easily by partnering with a coach who helps us utilize these resources to facilitate change and realize our potential.


Why is coaching important for language teachers?

Mastery of the language is no longer guarantee of success in ELT. The Coaching Process always adds values ​​to the goal of the coachee by providing focus and motivation always using the support of scientific tools and specific techniques conducted by a trained professional. Once you get to know yourself better, knowing the possible obstacles and how to deal with them, visualizing all the gains, strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats, a more optimized and effective path appears, facilitating the walk towards the coachee goals.

Another advantage is that coaching gives you the freedom to discuss your needs and wants openly; Before being coached , people are hardly ever self-conscious when assessing their strengths and weaknesses or have a chance to properly think about the direction they want in career and personal life to go in. Coaches keep the conversation focused, realistic and effective.

Finally, coaching is a designed alliance between coach and client where the coaching relationship continually gives all the power back to the client. Coaching believes that coachees know the answers to every question or challenge they may have in their lives, even if those answers appear to be obscured, concealed or hidden inside.


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A final thought:  Remember every day we make choices to do or not do many things. Those choices may range from profound to trivial and each one has an effect that makes our lives more or less fulfilling, more or less balanced and our process of living more or less effective. Last but not least, you are the only expert who can recognize what is absolutely best for you. This is the core in the coaching process.

Enjoy your life! Enjoy your teaching!

Roseli Serra

Roseli Serra

Roseli is an enthusiastic educator in Brazil. Graduated in English and Portuguese, she works as an ELT consultant, teacher trainer, materials writer, Cambridge examiner and e-moderator. She's a member of the IATEFL LT (Learning Technologies) subcommittee and works, teaches and trains professionals in the area of TD and LT. She’s also a psychologist, a mentor and a coach certified by SLAC (Sociedade Latino Americana de Coaching). She has a post-graduate degree in Applied Linguistics and is now doing her MA studies in Science of Languages at UNICAP (Universidade Católica de Pernambuco). She truly believes in life-long learning and teacher development.

1 Comment
  • Ana Maria Menezes
    Ana Maria Menezes
    Posted at 21:04h, 03 julho Responder

    Dear Roseli,
    Loved reading about the topic and learning from you!

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