When the teacher takes on the role of coach there occurs a shift from control to mediation of learning activities. Coaching involves setting goals, guiding, modeling, monitoring as well as giving feedback to the students as they are involved in learning and self-direction. Co-operative learning and use of projects are among the ways in which teachers become intellectual coaches. The teacher does this by encouraging students to be actively involved in learning. When the teacher acts as a coach he/she is ready to engage in negotiation, to guide through construction of meaning as well as to be involved in learning themselves by exploring in areas not in the realm of her/his expertise.
This is possible through co-operation and collaboration with other professionals and other teachers. In traditional methods of instruction the teacher transmits knowledge to the students who has a passive role in the learning process. When the teacher assumes the role of coach then learners assume an active role as their thinking is challenged as the teacher involves them in the problem solving and investigative process. This allows students to resolve problems by constructing and synthesizing knowledge thus helping students learn about things that are beyond their personal experience.
In a multicultural setting the teacher’s role as a coach is even more important in empowering students. In a multicultural setting we have street values, values of various minority cultural groups and traditional values of the society in a sort of warfare while the business of educating all students from different cultures still has to go on. Membership in a particular cultural group is one of the ways in which students find their self-esteem and strength. A teacher in the role of a coach responds to the cultural values by including those that will assist the student to learn and resisting those that are not beneficial for learning.
For a learner to experience other cultures other than his/her own, they require guidance in appreciating other learners’ cultures. The teacher in their role as coach empowers the student by being a facilitator in a problem-based approach to learning. In this process, the student by being left to come up with solutions is honing their skills of communication and investigation as they integrate the their culture with the information offered in the curriculum.
The coaching process has various stages, the first among these being anchoring all activities of learning to a bigger task, that is making learning relevant and important beyond the fact that ‘it has been assigned’. The teacher, now coach secondly supports the learner so that the learner can develop a feeling of ownership of the task at hand. The teacher then goes on to design a task that is authentic. The task should be designed in such a way that it is relevant to the learning environment and that the learner understands the environment that they should be functioning in when learning ends.
The learner is then given ownership of the learning process that will be used to find a solution to the problem. The teacher then designs the learning environment in such a way that it supports and challenges how the learner thinks. This should be followed by encouraging the learner to test ideas against different and alternative views as well as alternative contexts. The final stage is providing an opportunity for reflection of the content that the learner has learnt and also of the learning process.