Teacher vs. Coach

personal development Sep 13, 2021

Are teaching and coaching just two different names for how you can serve others in endeavors that make a difference?

I know that I often confuse or conflate these postures. However, maybe teasing apart the differences matters?

Here are some differences I see between teachers and coaches.

  • Teachers are subject experts. Coaches are relationship experts.
  • Teachers impart knowledge. Coaches unlock wisdom.
  • Teachers inform. Coaches inquire.
  • Teachers teach one to many. Coaches coach one on one.
  • Teachers fix. Coaches frame.
  • In a teaching relationship, status is held by the teacher. In a coaching relationship, the coach reminds the client of their agency and status.

These are generalizations painted in broad strokes, of course. There is a time and place for one approach or the other. There are also circumstances when teachers can blend in elements of coaching and vice versa.

What other characteristics do you think distinguish teachers from coaches? Which approach could you employ more often and more intentionally? How might distinguishing postures help you more effectively and more efficiently make the difference only you can make?

Scott Perry, Chief Difference-Maker at Creative on Purpose.

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