Peer Coaching FAQ
Peer Coach Training FAQ Page
Below are four FAQ sections that answer the most commonly asked questions about peer coaching:
- Section 1: What is Peer Coaching?
- Section 2: The Uses and Benefits of Peer Coach Training
- Section 3: Peer Coach Training Logistics
- Section 4: Leading and Promoting Peer Coach Training
- What is a “growth-centered peer relationship”?
- I’m familiar with peer mentoring: how is that different from peer coaching?
- Compared to other DVD courses we could do, what makes Peer Coaching unique?
- How have you incorporated adult learning methods in this training?
- I’ve seen some accountability programs that tend to get controlling. How do you avoid that?
- What are some of the key values behind peer coaching?
- This whole coaching concept is new to me – where is this in scripture?
What is a “growth-centered peer relationship”?
In most of our friendships the focus is on simply accepting and enjoying each other as we are. A growth-centered relationship is one that has a strategic purpose: we are in it so we can grow toward maturity in Christ. It’s a friendship with a growth structure: change goals, action steps, progress reports and regular get-togethers.
I’m familiar with peer mentoring: how is that different from peer coaching?
The key difference between mentoring and coaching is that mentoring is imparting to someone what God has given you (for instance, wisdom, insight, or experience); whereas coaching is drawing out of a person what God has given them. Coaching uses listening and asking skills to help others grow instead of advice-giving. It’s a completely different way of walking with people. Both types of relationships offer accountability, but the training peer coaches receive in using goals, action steps, progress reports and asking skills provides a strong, flexible structure that makes the peer relationship more effective.
Compared to other DVD courses we could do, what makes Peer Coach Training unique?
Several things make this program stand out. First, it provides the resources to do coach training in your church without requiring a highly skilled facilitator to be effective. Second, it is much more interactive than most courses. Instead of listening to long input sessions followed by discussion, this training approach uses short teachings followed by skills demos, debriefing, and hands-on practice exercises where participants try out the skills on each other. Third, this course is designed to produce structured peer coaching relationships where peer partners meet outside the class time during the week, and continue meeting long-term after the class is over.
How have you incorporated adult learning methods in this training?
Adults learn best in interactive settings that push them to think, to draw from each other, and give them the opportunity immediately apply what they are learning in real life situations. Instead of having people sit back and listen to extended teachings, Peer Coach Training uses short teaching segments (most are eight to twelve minutes) coupled with peer coaching demonstrations to present the key coaching skills. Participants are given certain things to look for in each demo, then discuss what they saw in a debriefing time afterward to draw insights from each other. Then, about 1/3 of the total session time is given to peer practice sessions where peers try out these skills on each other in real life – an immediate application. Additional practice time is provided in the peer coaching sessions during the week. So instead of being an academic exercise or listening to a talking head, peer coaching training is highly interactive and provides ample time for real-life skills practice.
I’ve seen some accountability programs that tend to get controlling. How do you avoid that?
One of the strengths of the coaching approach to accountability is that it always remains voluntary. Coaches don’t tell you what to do: they help you follow through on what you decided you want. This makes coaching systems far less prone to becoming controlling than structures that are based on authority or imparting models. If you want to create an environment with high accountability that stays healthy, you also need to have a high value for taking responsibility for one’s own life. Coaching does that very well.
What are some of the key values behind peer coaching?
The coaching approach is based on several key values. The first is believing in people: believing in their relationship with God, in their ability to find the right solution without being told, and their ability to steward the life God has given them. A second key value is that God initiates change.\ In coaching, we believing the change process starts with God, and that his change agenda is readily seen in what believers are motivated to work on (in other words, God is able to motivate us to deal with what he wants us to deal with). Because this process is God-initiated, no coach has the power to change anyone except by getting in step with what God is already doing. A third key value is personal responsibility. Coaches help people take responsibility for their own lives and start taking the steps that move them where they want to go. Coaches don’t solve your problems for you: they help you discover that together with God you have the ability to face the challenges life has given you.
This whole coaching concept is new to me – where is this in scripture?
There are a specific set of techniques used in coaching, and you’ll see many of them demonstrated in scripture. (For instance, study some time how often Jesus answers a question with a question, or how many times he turns circumstances into teachable moments). But the biblical nature of coaching is found less in its outward expressions than it is in its heart and values. Coaching is working at change with people the way God works with us. We listen because God listens – and God listens because he loves and delights in us. We challenge people to take responsibility for their lives, because scripture is clear that each individual will stand before God and give an account for all that they have done. Techniques come and go with the ages, but the heart of coaching taps into some central facets of the heart of God as expressed in scripture.
- What are the outcomes of this course? What can I expect it to accomplish?
- What topics do the nine program sessions cover?
- If I am just interested in learning more about coaching and getting some basic training, would this work for me?
- Can I use these materials to train my small group coaches?
- Can I use this to deepen relationships in my group?
- Will this give me a structured way to help people grow?
- What will my group get out of doing peer coach training?
- Is there any structure for continuing the peer relationships after the course is over?
What are the outcomes of this course? What can I expect it to accomplish?
Peer Coach Training is designed to accomplish two main goals: it provides a structure to help people form lasting, growth-centered peer relationships, and it provides basic training in coaching skills. By the time you are finished, each person will have formed an authentic friendship with a peer, established a habit of meeting regularly with that partner for support and accountability, and will have learned the basics of how to help others grow without telling them what to do. Accountable relationships are a key component in walking out the Christian faith. When applied consistently, the principles people learn in peer coach training will cause them to grow faster, stay more focused on what God is doing in their lives, and become mature, solid disciples of Christ.
What topics do the nine program sessions cover?
Since the main objectives are relationship building and developing coaching skills, those are the major topics. Relationship building sessions cover developing authentic relationships, healthy accountability, and how to form covenantal peer relationships. Coaching topics we cover include asking skills, creating SMART growth goals, techniques for problem-solving the coaching way, developing concrete action steps, and offering support and encouragement.
If I am just interested in learning more about coaching and getting some basic training, would this work for me?
A great way to learn to coach is to find a partner, purchase the Peer Coaching Independent Study, and go through the training together. Since the program includes discussion times and peer practice exercises, you’ll get much more out of it if you go through the materials with a partner. If you just want a first-time exposure to coaching, you can also purchase the Peer Coaching DVD Set or the DVDs and a Workbook and work through the video portion of the materials on your own. A schedule for reading along in the book Leadership Coaching is included in the Workbook – this is another great way to accentuate the learning experience.
Can I use these materials to train my small group coaches?
Yes. Since a major focus of the materials is coach training, just going through this program will develop people’s coaching skills. If you want to focus solely on coaching and not on building peer relationships, schedules are provided in the Facilitator’s Guide for doing the training sessions back to back in a workshop format. Getting copies of the book Leadership Coaching for participants is a great addition to the program when you are doing it for coach training purposes.
Will this strengthen the relationships in my group?
Absolutely! Peer coach training provides a structured way to develop relationships. Many of the training exercises we do (like sharing our life stories, making a covenant together, or meeting regularly outside the group) are specifically designed to cultivate a close relationship between peers. If you want people to get closer but aren’t sure how, peer coaching can be a great way to go!
I need a way to help people get more serious and structured about personal growth Will this fill the bill?
Yes, that is what peer coaching is all about. Each person will reflect on God’s change agenda for their life, develop a personal growth goal, create action steps to work toward, and experience being supported and held accountable by a peer as they work toward that goal. Peer coaching is a growth system: it moves Christian growth from a hit-or-miss process to something structured and strategic.
What impact will doing peer coaching have on my group or team as a whole?
This can impact your team at many levels. First, your relationships will deepen and become more authentic. Second, the structure and strategy for personal growth will tend to create more maturity in your team. Another benefit is that as people get used to being accountable and allowing others into their lives, you’ll find it easier to work through problems and conflicts. The sense of purpose about growth can be very attractive, too: there is nothing to get people excited about walking with God like seeing real transformation in their own lives.
Is there any structure for continuing the peer relationships after the course is over?
The whole idea of this program is to build relationships where peers continue to meet regularly and work together long after the training is over. A key to this is that peers start meeting outside the group sessions in week four. By the end of the training, they have already met four times on their own. This is designed to get them over the initial “getting started” hump to where the peer relationship is self-sustaining. We’ve also provided a whole section of resources in the Facilitator’s Guide for keeping these relationships going. There is an outline for how to share testimonies of what God has done through your peer to peer relationships, a sample recommitment ceremony and refocusing process you can use periodically, and more. We’ve also included info on how to grow your peer groups and incorporate newcomers so your peer relationships can grow with your group.
What formats is the program offered in (workshop, weekly course, etc.)?
Peer Coach Training is designed for two basic formats: a nine-week course (orientation session plus eight training sessions) or a half-day kick-off workshop plus five weekly sessions. Schedules for both are found in the Facilitator’s Guide.
If I want to use the materials just to offer basic coach training, instead of to set up accountable peer to peer relationships, what does the schedule look like?
If you are using the materials only for the coach training, two additional formats are available: two half-day workshops or one all-day workshop. These schedules are also found in the Facilitator’s Guide. The workshop formats cannot be used to develop accountable peer relationships, because they omit the actual peer to peer sessions that are done during the week between the group sessions.
How much time does the whole program take?
If you do it as a nine-week course, each week includes one group session plus 30 to 45 minutes of action steps participants take during the week. These add up to 1.5 to 2.25 hours per week for nine weeks.
How much time does each training session take?
The group training sessions can be done as standalone meetings (you are getting together just to offer peer coaching) – in this case, plan 90 minutes for each session. You can also offer the training to an existing group (like a small group or women’s group) during that group’s regular meeting time. In this situation, plan 60 to 75 minutes for each session.
What does a typical training session look like?
Our training sessions use a “Tell > Show > Discuss > Do” training model. A typical session begins with a short accountability exercise where peers give each other a progress report on the action steps they did during the week. We do this throughout the training to build a pattern of effective peer-to-peer accountability in the participants’ lives. Next, you’ll view a 10-minute teaching session (the “tell” component) followed by a coaching demonstration where the skills we are teaching are modeled (“shown”) by a coach. A debriefing is used to bring out the coaching principles the participants observed in the demo (“discuss”). Then everyone gets a chance to practice that skill with a partner in a 20-minute peer breakout exercise (“do”). This makes for highly interactive sessions: usually only about 10 minutes of a session is videotaped teaching.
Do people have homework outside of the group sessions?
Yes – participants are expected to do 30 to 45 minutes of outside work each week. Here’s why this is important. The objective of the training is to help people start accountable peer-to-peer relationships where they meet on their own during the week. To reinforce this habit, we start doing these outside peer appointments in week 4. That way, by the time the group sessions conclude the peer pairs have already met for a month. If we didn’t start the peer appointments during the training, most of the peer pairs would probably never meet at all. So the “homework” (we call it “action steps”) makes a big difference in the success of the program.
What are the best times of year to start this program?
Since regular attendance is crucial in this program, try to do it at a time when you people can be there most every week. The best times are spring and fall. Although summertime can work, many people go on vacation, especially around and after the 4th of July. Over the Christmas holidays is probably the worst time – December is always up for grabs, and taking a three week hiatus will undermine all continuity. So January to April and September to October will be the best start times for most groups.
What is the optimal group size for Peer Coach Training?
A group size could be anywhere from 6 to 100 or more. Small group size (10 to 20) is great if you can do it that way – in a smaller group more people participate in the discussions and there is more of a sense of group identity. Doing the training with a group that has already been together for some time and will continue to meet after the training provides the best support for maintaining long-term peer coaching relationships.
I lead a cell group that is designed for growth. Is there a way for these peer groups to incorporate newcomers and grow with my group?
The Facilitator’s Guideincludes procedures for growing pairs into triads and then multiplying them back to pairs as your group grows. It’s a great way to incorporate newcomers: just think what would happen if every new person was quickly incorporated into a relationship with two others who meet every week for lunch! We’ve also provided materials like the Independent Study Package that can be used to bring new people up to speed on coaching without having to rerun the whole training program.
What will I have to do as the facilitator of this program?
The facilitator’s main responsibility is to lead the group training sessions. These sessions typically consist of viewing a short video clip or two, leading a discussion of the video, and then organizing people in peer-to-peer breakouts where they will work independently. You are also responsible for a short follow-up e-mail between meetings.
Do I need any special training (or do I need to be a coach) to lead this?
You don’t need any special training to offer the Peer Coaching program – all the hard parts are on the DVD. Of course, any coach training you have had will certainly help, as will reading the book Leadership Coaching that comes with your Facilitator’s Package. To learn more about coaching, check out some of the other books, CDs and free coaching articles available on Coach22.com.
How much time does it take to prepare for a group session?
The Facilitator’s Guide has a four-page outline for each training session. To get ready for a session, you’ll read two chapters in the book, Leadership Coaching(figure 30 minutes) preview the video clips for that session (20 minutes), and study the session outline in the Facilitator’s Guide (30 minutes). So figure one and a quarter to two hours of prep time per session.
You keep mentioning “debriefings”. What’s the difference between a debriefing and a discussion?
In most video curriculums, you listen to a teacher and then discuss what that person said and how to apply it. These sessions are a little different: most of the discussion times follow a coaching demonstration. Instead of stating all the coaching principles explicitly, we act them out in a demo, then specially craft the debriefing questions to help the group discover those principles from what they saw. This learning method produces much greater retention and deeper understanding on the part of the participants.
What do I do to get my team excited about doing this program?
A great place to start is to show them the brochure and a clip or two from the DVD. Another excellent approach is to identify a growth-centered relationship in your own life, and share about the impact that had on you. Make sure people understand how this program will benefit them. Start promoting well in advance, talk about this often, and bring people into the decision-making process wherever appropriate. The Facilitator’s Guideincludes a section of resources on how to cast a vision for peer coaching.
I need to recruit a group for the training. Any tips on how to do that?
The Facilitator’s Guide includes a whole section on how to recruit people for peer coach training. 10 color brochures and a 60-second promotional video are included with the Facilitator’s Package. More resources are available on the Peer Coaching Resources page – make sure and check that out. The most important key to promoting peer coaching is to making sure people really understand what they are getting into, what they will get out of it, and that they are bought-into the process.
What factors tend to help a group get the most out of this training?
Far and away the most important factor is buy-in. Coaching only works when people are internally motivated, because it is designed to help people take responsibility for their own lives. People who are doing peer to peer coach training because their leader pressured them into it, or because they have to for their jobs, or just because the rest of the group is doing it will be much less successful at sustaining their peer relationships. It is crucial that you as a leader give people a good picture of what they are getting into and that you get a strong “yes!” from them to doing the program. The second most important factor is securing regular attendance: that means choosing a schedule, format, and recruiting in a way that people make this a priority. Don’t fall into the trap of measuring your success by the size of the group you can get to come to the first meeting! You will be much better off with a smaller group that is really committed to this program than if you gather a large group of tire-kickers and end up with a high drop-out rate.