Review by Penny Rabiger

Director of engagement, Lyfta Education

29 May 2022, 5:00


Penny’s podcasts, 23 May 2022

Inside Education


This series of podcasts that describes itself as giving an Irish perspective on education for all who value teaching. Since last week was “international coaching week”, I thought I would focus on some of the good and the great in the education and coaching space, and there’s nowhere better to start than the episode entitled, ‘Coaching for principals with Viv Grant’.

Here, Grant discusses her work through Integrity Coaching with host Sean Delaney. They talk about identifying our stories as school leaders; why school development and human growth and development go hand in hand; why supporting coaching for principals is a good investment for a school; how coaching differs from mentoring; and more. Thought-provoking and affirming stuff.

Education on Fire


By complete contrast, it’s worth listening to this episode on ‘Tough Conversations’ with David Wood. Wood has apparently built the “world’s largest coaching business” and has overcome all kinds of adversity in his own life. He talks about being 30 per cent braver through what seems to be a coaching methodology of disciplining one’s mind, and which might be drawn from sporting practices of conquering one’s body. (Quite a different approach to WomenEd’s “ten per cent braver”, with which I am more familiar.)

I came to this episode a little apprehensively, knowing how coaching can be approached as a tough-guy, consumerist business connected to self-betterment as a competitive pursuit. In schools, coaching is also sometimes co-opted and misappropriated as a way to crack the whip and increase surveillance of teachers to boost “productivity” and “results”. Suffice to say, I found myself wincing throughout, mainly from the lack of self-awareness on show in terms of one’s embodied self (race, gender, class, sexuality, disability) and how these interact with how you experience the world and how the world experiences you.

But have a listen, see what you think!

Steve Barkley Ponders Out Loud


This podcast explores a whole host of topics, including those related to coaching, and the episode I have chosen is called ‘Compassionate Coaching’. The host chats to educators, Kathy Perret and Kenny McKee, who are specialists in a branch of the profession called instructional coaching. In contrast to other coaching models, instructional coaches see themselves as the coaches of coaching, changing school cultures to be human-centred and to activate learning through compassion and self-knowledge.

Here, Steve Barkley’s guests cover the elephant in the room, i.e. that some schools have built what they refer to as coaching programmes that are really something else entirely. One of the recurring criticisms of professional learning is that teachers feel it is one-size-fits-all, when they know the power of metacognition and personal connection for their students. For Perret and McKee, there’s really no excuse for it. Constructing goals with teachers is crucial, as is building professional conversations and learning communities across classrooms, districts, regions and globally.

Being Luminary


In the spirit of saving the best for last, this podcast is a must-listen, and the episode I have chosen is compelling, compassionate, challenging and cheerful in equal measures. It features two women in conversation who I respect immensely and who are doing powerful work in education, coaching and social justice.

To my mind, the whole point of coaching is not to relentlessly edge us closer to performative goals but to reach into the power of our own narratives, experiences, emerging and iterative understandings of the way the world works, and our place in it as people who can release our own and others’ potential for the betterment of the world.

In this episode, host Angela Browne talks to Claire Stewart-Hall, founder of Equitable Coaching. Claire served as a leader in schools in the UK for 20 years in urban areas of economic disadvantage and poverty, and has experience of supporting creativity, positivity and self-organising systems to enable positive cultures to grow. Here, she talks of her own narratives and her work in anti-racist spaces as a researcher, coach and activist.

A powerful listen that’ll keep you going until the next international coaching week.

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