Dream Catching

Blog post by Helena Marsh.

Coaching has the power to catch dreams. It is a powerful tool to recognise, recognise and reflect on thoughts, hopes and worries.

As talisman of Native America, dream catchers made of willow hoops and feathers were traditionally used to protect sleepers from nightmares and evil spirits. Native Americans believed that at night the air was filled with dreams, both good and bad. By placing a dream catcher by a bed, the icon would watch over you and capture negative energies.

A talented coach has the ability of achieving similar: protecting their coachees from unhelpful ruminations and damaging thoughts.

A famous Martin Luther quotation advises: ‘You cannot keep birds from flying over your head but you can keep them from building a nest in your hair.’ The benefits of a strong, trusting coaching relationship is being able to recognise the tendency to give negative overthinking space in your head.

Having worked with a range of excellent coaches during my time as a head teacher, I’ve come to appreciate the importance of finding a good fit. At different times in my career, I have needed different things from the relationship. The balance of support and challenge, problem solving and creative thinking, resolving specific thorny operational issues versus big picture strategic thinking has varied.

An essential aspect of a coaching rapport is trust, openness and authenticity. To be properly and effectively coached, you need to be able to bring your whole self to the conversation and allow the coach to use their expertise to support with decision and sense making.

The danger of coaching having become rather ubiquitous as the silver bullet for school improvement and professional development is that it loses its potency and potential. Lethal mutations and tokenistic gestures may take the space of genuine, powerful coaching conversations.

While true coaching is non hierarchical and doesn’t require domain expertise, the fashion for well-intentioned in-house coaching pairs/triads may create contrived, inauthentic relationships that attempt to achieve the benefits but are missing the fundamental conditions to enable coaching to have impact. Conflicts of interest and self-editing may get in the way of authentic, open conversations.

High quality coaching is a very personal pursuit. While it helps organisations, its impact is on an individual level. As well as catching negative dreams, coaches can help to create audaciously positive and ambitious ones. Not dissimilar from Roald Dahl’s BFG with his magical trumpet and rows of personalised dream jars, an amazing coach can help to capture the essence of their coachees’ hopes and ambitions to realise their dreams.

I’m looking forward to the prospect of embarking on a professional coaching qualification via the WomenEd Level 5 coaching apprenticeship next academic year. While I’ve provided lots of informal coaching over the years through the DfE coaching pledge and MTPT #Mentorme initiative, specialist training to enable me to fulfil this role effectively will help me to coach better.

In the meantime, I continue to gain strength, clarity and conviction from the pep talks in my coaching sessions from my PFC, Nadia.

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Dream Catching

Blog post by Helena Marsh. Coaching has the power to catch dreams. It is a powerful tool to recognise, recognise and reflect on thoughts, hopes

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