Core Skills – The Agreement

The Coaching Agreement

As adults we have many agreements with other adults. We have agreements that describe the service we are using and explain the relationship between us. The agreements protect us, and ensure good service. Such agreements are especially important when it comes to private and intimate issues, and when working with young adults.

Teachers have agreements
Through their employment at a High School, teachers have agreements that describe their rights and expectations and responsibilities and authorities.

Dentist have agreements
That’s why Dentists are allowed to dig around inside our mouths, we have an implicit agreement with them that it’s OK to look in an otherwise private and intimate place.

Doctors have agreements.
That’s why Doctors are allowed to look in places that we normally regard as private and intimate. They have given an Oath that promises their actions have good intentions.

Coaches have agreements
In the same way Coaches need to have a Coaching Agreement that allows them to dig around in intimate places and look at private things.

The Coaching Agreement, at 2 levels

The coaching agreement can be viewed from a macro and a micro level. By macro I mean a large overall partnership, covering at least the whole duration of the coaching partnership; and by micro I mean a partnership for the session, or part of a session.

At the Macro Level
Since the students mature during their time at the High School, it is useful to have a signed coaching agreement on paper, based on the one that your school provides. This agreement should be read and signed by the people concerned, such as administrators, teacher/coach, student and possibly parent(s) /guardian(s).

  • The agreement should include
  • a statement of confidentiality
  • a statement about the inclusion of other people (therapists, councellors, parents etc) in the coaching process, and the situations where that might be appropriate.
  • The agreement should also include a description of
  • the purpose of the coaching method with respect to the student’s needs
  • what is being offered, and what is not
  • the student’s and coach’s respective responsibilities
  • what behaviour is appropriate in the relationship, and what is not
  • and relevant logistics should also be included, such as
  • which room(s) are used,
  • times and dates of planned sessions,
  • routines for postponement (due to illness for example); and reporting routines, if any.

Coaching Situations
There are a number of different situations where coaching can be carried out. Coaching can be carried out in public, in the classroom or the corridor; or in private. Coaching can be carried out at a predetermined time, or on the spur of the moment. Coaching can focus on one person, or a group. All of these situations require that a coaching agreement already be in place, otherwise it’s not coaching.

At the Micro Level
At the start of each session there is an opportunity to define / refine / redefine the coaching agreement

Normally you remind each other of the existence of the coaching agreement that makes the relationship one of coach and coachee, rather than teacher and student. Often all that’s required is a phrase like “Is it OK that I coach you for the next 5 minutes (pause)?”; or from the student “Would you coach me on my results?”

Coaching the Class
If you are speaking to a class, it is vital that you allow for the fact that some students might not be ready to be coached right now (even if you think they would benefit from coaching). Say “I am going to coach the whole class for the next 5 minutes about goals and results”… “if you are not ready for that please remain quiet so that the rest of the class can hear me.”, or “You can answer in silence”, or “Write down your answers for yourself”

Confidentiality
Occasionally you might want to remind the class about confidentiality. Here’s a way to do that. “Can we agree that everything we say in this room, stays in this room (pause)?…. does anyone disagree (pause)?”. In the early day of a class’s experience of coaching you might want to explain to them about the notion of confidentiality, and get them to discuss it; and the consequences of breaking it; and the benefits of keeping it.

Summary
So in summary
We need agreements to allow teachers, when working as coaches, to dig around in intimate places and look at private things. We make the agreement clear by putting it in writing and gaining credibility and support in the form of signatures. We make use of the agreement by bringing it up at the start of any coaching situation. A quick reminder of the agreement makes the coaching session stand out from ordinary conversations.

Tip
Keep the coaching sessions separate from other types of conversation. Take the time to make a break between session and conversation.​

This is part of a series of 12 blogs about the ICF Core Coaching Skills