Coaching & Teaching-What’s the Difference?

Coaching and Teaching are very closely related! In fact some instructors will often coach during teaching and vice versa. So if they’re so similar how do you know which one you’re doing and when to do so? What’s the difference?

Between Coaching & Teaching-What’s the difference?

Before we go into the differences let’s take a look at what each are.

  • So what separates the two?
  • It’s down to what the person knows
  • So where does coaching fit in?

Coaching firstly is many things, but there are also a number of things that coaching is not. Namely it is not therapy where issues from the past are dealt with. It’s not consultation where work is done for someone else, and above all it is not teaching.

In a nutshell, coaching looks at the present with a focus on the future. But more importantly is, its method, where it is primarily driven by the coachee themselves.

Whether they know it or not, the person being coached (more often than not) actually has the solution already. The coach, and the coaching process is all about revealing that or other options for the person being coached to explore and evaluate, before deciding on a course of action.

Teaching on the other hand can be done in a number of different ways.

At its core teaching is the act of communicating information and skills to others in an effort to improve knowledge & skill and also to allow those being taught to be able to gain experience and independence.

Related: Are you presenting or teaching?

So what separates the two?

Coaching and its method can be used for the purposes of reinforcing learning but it does not teach.

The real difference between the two is ‘When’ each is used. Neither is better or worse than another, and neither can replace the other. Both methods, teaching and coaching are used at different times.

Let’s imagine you have someone who wants to do a certain task, but they do not know how to do it or they don’t know what is required to make it happen. Coaching this person towards a solution is going to be extremely difficult and will likely fail to achieve a course of action.

Teaching the person first will reap more benefit for the student

It’s down to what the person knows.

In the case above, the person will need to be taught first. Concepts, ideas & hard information will need to be introduced, explained & practiced first in order to increase the person’s awareness of what they are trying to achieve.

If the teaching is successful and the person achieves learning, they may have the ability to ‘self-execute’ and achieve the task they wish to carry out and subsequently reach their immediate goal, without the instructor which is the ideal case.

Related: Theory or Revision – When do students learn?

So where does coaching fit in?

In the above situation which is one of many—coaching works when the person becomes stuck or when progressive improvement is the goal.

If the person already has an awareness of the subject or situation they are involved in, then coaching is ideal to re-enforce learnt content, explore options, evaluate these options and work toward a resolution, as well as to develop the known skill.

It also has to be said that in this manner coaching also perfectly complements teaching because if a taught person does become stuck, teaching tends to ‘re-teach’ content rather focus around what the person already has an awareness of and risks creating dependence rather than independence.

In short, teaching and coaching are two different practices—both of which work toward achieving the same thing, where the client develops, improves and excels. Despite having the same end goal both practices work in different ways but most importantly they work at different times.

If a person needs to learn something new—teaching is what we need to do.

When the client is looking at ways to progress, advance & improve—coaching is the tool of choice.

Related: Why Being an educator means you have no competition

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