Listen to Episode 46


In this episode of #coachbetter counsellor spotlight, we chat with Cindy Tisdall-McPhee, Head of Counseling at UWC Singapore. This was a powerful conversation, highlighting the importance of self-care in a coaching role. This conversation sparked so many great ideas that we are inspired to create a follow up series, so don’t miss it!

Bonus: Watch the spotlight version of this episode on YouTube!

coaching as an intellectual spa - our new favorite metaphor for coaching!

Featured Guest(s)

Cindy Tisdal McPhee

Full Show Notes

Cindy reminds us that taking care of ourselves, allows us, as coaches, to be better engaged and present at work, and when you’re present, it’s easier for staff to approach you. There are so many specific and authentic examples of how coaches can work with counselors – from supporting parents, to helping ease the transition to (or away) from a school for students, to connecting the social and emotional elements to, our often, skill-based work around digital citizenship.


What do you think coaches do?

First experience was at UWC. Coaches work to identify the needs of the whole community, not just the teachers, but also students, parents and leaders. They focus on building capacity, ultimately to help people feel more confident and successful in what they’re doing around tech.

How do you work with the coaches at your school?

Over the last 7 years, it’s evolved. Lots of work together on transition (leaving or arriving students). In the past it has been very separate, now trying to integrate the tech piece into that – how do we say farewell to our tech, how do we plan for this… Arriving well, not just socially and emotionally, but also from the tech perspective.

Parent presentations – looking at social media, how to have difficult conversations. Goal for this year is to start running counseling podcasts. Some of the more difficult conversations, some parents might not feel comfortable coming in to talk about that, so the podcasts will be a way for them to get that content to them.

What are some good opportunities for coaches to work with you?

Supporting curriculum development around online behaviors. Helping DLCs understand what’s happening to students when they are engaging in online interactions. In the past it’s been more skill based, now she brings a social emotional perspective.

What do you do when you don’t have the opportunity to work with a coach?

In the past, need to build your own capacity: doing research online, talking to colleagues, thinking about my own professional networks, building the community around you.

What are the essential elements for coaching success in a school? What’s needed to build a coaching culture?

Clarity of role. More time alloted in department meetings for coaches to talk about their role. Being calm and balanced, sometimes the workplace can be a bit frantic, if that person seems like they’re really overloaded, it’s hard to approach them. Self care for coaches to be better engaged at work, to be present, when you’re present it’s easier for staff to approach you. Visibility, approachability, being human. Sometimes people might be apprehensive to share what they don’t know for fear of being judged. As humans, we’re vulnerable. Having the DLCs be accepting of every question, however big or small.

Where do coaches / does coaching fail? And what can we do about it?

Doesn’t work if the role is not clear to the staff. If there’s an element of “I’m too busy” or if it’s perceived as that. If the coach isn’t approachable. It’s hard for a coach because they have to work to break in. If they don’t have the time, energy, and passion to do that, it’s not going to work.

What makes a coach invaluable to you?

The role of coaching is to build capacity and I feel like they’ve done that. If they’re not there, I can still be successful. The issue is continued growth. Continuing to be approachable and continuing to be passionate is the way that inspires people to continue to want to work with coaches.

What was your “aha” moment that shifted your perspective from not caring about coaching to being on board?

I remember feeling quite nervous about approaching coaches, I know they support the teachers, but I’m a counselor, is it OK for me to approach them. I remember going up to the coach and them having a huge smile and being so excited to work with me. That was the start of that relationship.

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Your Show Hosts

Kim Cofino


Clint Hamada


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