Outdoor Learning Coaching
The Institute for Outdoor Learning (IOL) recognises Outdoor Learning Coaching as a valuable approach used by outdoor learning professionals in individual and group development.
Coaching is a flexible and powerful tool. This flexibility can be its greatest strength and in the field of outdoor learning, coaching can be applied either as a stand-alone approach or in conjunction with other tactics. Coaching is an approach that can be used with participants, with members of a staff team and to support organisation or business managers or leaders.
Various definitions of the process, outcomes and aims of coaching exist. Drawing on The Professional Charter for Coaching and Mentoring, 2011 (EMCC, ICF, AfC, SFC) the Institute has created these definitions of coaching in general and pertaining to outdoor learning in particular:
- Coaching is an activity within the area of personal and professional development with a focus on individuals and teams and relying on the individuals own resources to help them to see and test alternative ways for improvement of competence, decision-making and enhancement of their potential.
- An Outdoor Learning Coach is a professional, skilled in establishing a working relationship with an individual or group, with the specific intent of working towards an agreed outcome. This outcome could relate to technical skills, personal development or both.
A Coaching Continuum
Coaching is often seen as a continuum with a range of differing approaches (Parsloe and Leedham) and differing epistemological perspectives (Collins and Collins). A central core of skills and knowledge is the foundation for working with increasing levels of flexibility, choice and emergent thoughts and feelings.
Effective coaches move along the continuum between a simple and a more complex approach to suit the situation. No one approach is seen as better than another, the critical factor is usefulness and appropriateness for the person or group being coached. Development as an outdoor learning coach can also be looked at in terms of increasing competence to operate across the full range of the continuum.