I am not taking anything away from this new “Coaching from the Heart” strand of coaching technique. Please don’t take this that way.
However — let’s not characterize it as “the” new way to coach, or the only way to coach “now”, quite yet. I’m certain there are many people for whom this method works nicely. There are also many other people (as one of its practitioners and I have discussed privately) who really do want to progress as rapidly as possible with skills and are not adverse to being told what they are doing wrong, or even corrected while teaching, as well as hearing what they are doing right. We coach “from the brain”. This “harder” approach (which we use at the Hawaii STARTALK) may not be as soft and kind as the one described, but it is very effective (or so we observe and are told). We are also not trying to “win hearts and minds” at a four-week volunteer training camp that runs 24/7 — we’re trying to get teachers skilled enough to leave that experience as strong, independent teachers of TPRS. In other words, we do what we do for good reasons. Does that make us “mean”? That’s open to interpretation, I suppose. But I do not believe that simply saying words that are not praise or positive constitutes being “mean”. In another time, that was called “honesty”. Not everyone is seeking what people are calling a “love fest”. Some are seeking skills growth in a reasonably pleasant, professional environment. We mention what was good, but we tend to spend more time helping people improve directly, rather than hoping it will happen indirectly. There are, IMO, some skills of TPRS that will improve through observation, but there are others that end up being far easier to improve if someone tells you how to change what you’re doing, and to do that, you need to be told that what you’re doing isn’t, um, optimal.
So just as different classes require a different approach, I do not believe there is any one-size-fits-all solution for coaching, either. Everyone who wants to be coached should think about what they are looking for and choose appropriately — and the same person may prefer a different approach at different times or in different situations.
People who know me will obviously leap immediately to the (correct) conclusion that I’m not a touchy-feely person in the least, and I’m sure that influences my view on these things. But I also believe that in professional endeavors, sometimes we do have to take some heat in order to forge the iron. It doesn’t mean we have to be cruel or hurtful, but neither does it mean we need focus only, always, on what’s good and never mention what could be improved quickly by just pointing it out. (I also do not believe that it helps kids to always get a ribbon even if they didn’t come close to winning, unless being able to put out the effort was truly an important “win” of another kind for that particular child.)
The only orthodoxy that I’m aware of in TPRS/CI is that the input must be truly comprehensible. For TPRS, it should also be personalized or customized. But that’s it. Everything else (not deviating from these points) is negotiable. At least that’s how I see it.