Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Coaching Training Brain Dump - Day 1

See my day 2 notes here.

Although this isn't really my first day on the new job (we've had some meetings, trainings, etc), it was the "official" first day back so all the Digital Learning Coaches, District TOSAs, and related Directors/Coordinators got together for a training led by Steve Regur, who works with Educators Cooperative.  So much great information, so much to think through, I figured blogging about it would help me to process and put it all together in one place.  While this is a lot of notes and a few bits of reflection, I figured it would still be of interest to some as it is such great information!  So, here we go!

(For those of you who don't know, I have taken a position out of the classroom at a new district as a Digital Learning Coach.  Funny thing, one of the tasks today was how we would define our position to different people based on who they were.  Since most of you who read this are in education at some level, I will define it as "I am a teacher who is out of the classroom whose goal is to work with and coach other teachers in effectively integrating technology into their curriculum".  While I don't know exactly what my day to day looks like yet and I'm learning more every day, that will be enough for now.)

Random Notes and Good Thoughts

  • The most important thing we do for a living is listen, not talk
  • Change happens one conversation at a time
  • Coaching is a dynamic process - not a static one
  • Quote from another DLC: "A leader is supporting learning, growing, and reflecting; a manager is making sure it gets done efficiently and effectively.  You can be both." 

Key Ideas:

  1. Communication Styles - General Overview
    1. Everyone we work with has a framework they operate under so we need different answers for different people.  We must consider how they will view our answer through their lens.  We  need to be able to take the same piece of information and reframe it in multiple ways for the different people we interact with.  Example: Describing our job will be different for someone in education, a random person we meet in the grocery store, a family member, etc.
    2. As a coach, we must be able to change our framework.  We must continue to improve our communication styles every day and up-level the people we are communicating with.  The way we move forward is through communication.
    3. As a coach, I am not just "training" (giving information).  I am helping and supporting other adults so they can think more deeply, reflect more fully, all while providing insight.
    4. When we coach, we lead with a certain communication style.  The people we coach respond to different styles and we must learn to adjust.
    5. In any team, it is important to have people from all four communication styles.  (As a note, our team of DLCs is very well rounded - 4 blues, 2 greens, 5 reds, and 4 yellows)
  2. Herrmann Brain Dominance Instrument - HBDI
    1. We did an activity where we picked 10 adjectives that best describe us at work from a list of about 40.  Then, from those 10 we had to narrow it to our top 5.  That put us in a general category of our communication style, which comes from the HBDI linked above.  My final 5 adjectives were: "Gets things done", "is reliable", "organized", "timely", and "plans".  That put me in the "Green" section.
    2. A few notes of each of the selves:
      1. Blue - Rational Self (Logical, Analytical, Fact-Based, Quantitative)
        1. These people care about "at the end of the day, what's going to happen? What's the bottom line?  What numbers indicate that we have an outcome?"
        2. They don't just want to get to the point, they want to get to an outcome that is logical, rational, and evidence-based.  They want brief, clear, and precise information.
        3. Wants the graph more than the narrative.  Wants case studies with evidence, not with narratives.  Talks in bullet points, not paragraphs.  Doesn't want "fluff" or illogical flow.
        4. Usually analyzing while you are talking and trying to project ahead to where you are going.
        5. Question about Coaching they need answered - What is the point of this coaching?  What outcomes will I see?
      2. Green - Safekeeping Self (Organized, Sequential, Planned, Detailed)
        1. These people don't just think in bullet points, they think in numbers.  If it comes first, it must be more important.  They like planning and checklists... and crossing things off checklists
        2. They try to take care of the situation by taking care of that which can be controlled.  They try to anticipate and control anything possible.
        3. Question about Coaching they need answered - How is the coaching going to unfold?  What steps are we going to take? 
      3. Red - Feeling Self (Interpersonal, Feeling-based, Kinesthetic, Emotional)
        1. These people want the human perspective.  "What does this look like from the kids' point of view?  From a parent's point of view?"  They like anecdotes and want names
        2. They need to feel enthusiasm and expects empathy/consideration of their needs.  They want their feelings to be respected and for everyone to have equal consideration
        3. Question about Coaching they need answered - Who?  (Not sure if this meant "Who will I be working with?  Who will be impacted?)
      4. Yellow - Experimental Self (Holistic, Intuitive, Integrating, Synthesizing)
        1. These people like frameworks, diagrams, and thought bubbles.  They tend towards fragments of thoughts rather than bulleted lists.
        2. They want to take risks.  They see failure as where the learning is
        3. They want the big picture and want to konw how it all connects.
        4. Question about Coaching they need answered -  Why? (Not sure if this meant "Why are we doing this? Why are we using this model/protocol?)
    3. Coaching - General Notes
      1. We are coming alongside our fellows as a collaborative partner
      2. Depending on the culture of the school, coaching will be received differently.  Question to consider - Am I stepping into a template that already exists, or am I creating a new template?
      3. Coaching is not just about the coach, or the knowledge set of the coach.  Even if you are the most "armed" coach with all the tools available to you... It doesn't matter at the end of the day.  Coaching is culturally and relationship-driven.  It's not just "you're smart and you're a good teacher, go out there and make it happen."  This assumes that all schools and teachers will embrace you in the same way, which is just not true.
      4. When starting to coach, it is important to focus on: Building relationships, building trust, personal connections, and customizing the experience for each of your fellows.
      5. My assumptions of why people do what they do sets up my expectations for them, which is a bias I must overcome.
    4. Models of Coaching
      1. These three modes are interconnected and flow in and out of each other.
      2. Expert Coach
        1. I've been there, I've done that. Explicit. "Let me Show you"
        2. Strengths - gets the job done, efficient, credibility, people are used to direct instruction, certain tasks (procedural knowledge) calls for it, leads to unification for large-scale implementation of ideas.
        3. Limitations - "My way or the highway", can squash creative freedom or innovative approaches, instantly forgotten if they don't have time to practice, lends to a one-size fits all where one best way is assumed, potential lack of buy-in, could lead to learned helplessness where fellow does not want to do anything until coach is there to guide them.
      3. Collaborative Coach
        1. Shared decision making. Both coach and fellow are coming in with some level of experience and expertise.  Focus on shared outcomes and co-developing/creating
        2. Strengths - Sense of shared ownership, exploration, possibility for risk taking, fellow can provide better context to their classroom.
        3. Limitations - Time (requires conversation), can become dependent on the co-teaching approach
      4. Cognitive Coach
        1. Discovery approach. Inquiry-based.  Mediating Questions - Don't tell you want to think, just help you think.  Rarely makes suggestions (even the questions are whitewashed of implication)
        2. Strengths - Empowering to fellow, growing & learning, forces them to think & see something, takes away some of the risk factor as there is not always a "right answer", building capacity of fellow to individually refine their practice.
        3. Limitations - Some tasks don't call for this type of coaching, could lead to resentment that "the coach isn't doing anything", can be frustrating because it doesn't guarantee progress, lends itself to a lot of listening which can be difficult, must be very purposeful in our language choice which requires patience and pre-planning, sometimes hard to get people to become introspective and honest with themselves.
      5.  We were asked to separate into the type of coaching we thought we "defaulted" to.  90% of the people went to "Collaborative", and most of the rest went to "Cognitive".  One of the new DLCs went to "Expert" and I stood in the middle between "Expert" and "Cognitive".  I almost felt like it was a trick question, and maybe I just don't know because I've never really "coached" before, but I don't feel like I have a default right now.  The way it was set up seemed like "Collaborative" was the absolute best, but it was emphasized multiple times that you need all three in certain instances.  I feel like it totally depends on who I am working with, where they are at, and what they need.  I have no problem stepping into any of the three roles depending on the situation, and I'm not going to "default" to a role without knowing the context.  It was really good to think through the strengths and limitations of each type of coaching and consider when each type would be beneficial.  A few of the other DLCs said that they start with the Cognitive approach to help see where their fellow is, and then that will lead to transitioning to the Expert approach if needed, and eventually to the Collaborative approach.
    5. Change Management
      1. Dealing with Concerns:
        1. Reframe concerns as indicators of next steps.
        2. Instead of avoiding pushback, we embrace it - so we can capture it and address it 
      2. As a note on the value of reflection... these stages and notes below didn't really click until I'm now sitting down and sifting through them.  I was a little overwhelmed by this point in the day and it was just a lot of information for me.  However, as I now sit down and think through my journey as a flipped class educator, I can definitely see how I progress through the stages and considered the questions listed below.  How exciting that I will be able to walk through these stages alongside my fellows and celebrate their successes and growth with them!
      3. Concerns-Based Adoption Model  and Seven Stages of Concern
        1. Start at Stage 0 and move forward from there
        2. Stage 0 Awareness - I am not concerned about it
          1. How to move forward: establish a context, make it concrete, make it relevant, access their communication style
          2. They might ask: Why is this so important? Yes I signed up, but what's the big deal?  I need to find out: What are they driven by? 
        3. Stage 1 Informational - I would like to know more about it
          1. How to move forward: provide background, provide access to articles or research, provide access to people who have implemented, set up Q/A sessions 
          2. Important - be the curator.  Don't bombard them with 19 articles - give them ONE, or even just the ONE paragraph.  If you overload them early, you are training them to not pay attention to you
          3. Important - This needs to be didactic (back and forth) *New word of the day*  It's not just push-push-push information; it needs to be push and pull
        4. Stage 2 Personal - How will using it affect me?
          1. How to move forward: access the personal story, clarify where they are now and where they need to be, think about the details of their day to day
          2. Consider what they are doing now, and then what they will be doing once they've transitioned
          3. Ask them what they are already good at.  Sentence frame sample: "Because you did _________, you'll be able to do ____________" 
        5. Stage 3 Management - I seem to spending all my time getting materials ready
          1. How to move forward: focus on efficiency, focus on time and cost/benefit, provide access to examples, provide resources, help desk
          2. These people say, "I know about it, I kind of know what it means to me, but I don't seem to have the resources"
          3. A lot of people plateau here.  Some either understate their needs, or they accomplish one thing and they think they are done (example of "yay my kids rotate through an ipad station so I have a blended learning environment, I'm done!")
          4. Coaching role: Don't run the race for them, but remove some of the hurdles that are in their way
        6. Stage 4 Consequence - How is my use affecting learners? How can I refine it to have more impact? 
          1. This is something you want to get towards sooner rather than later
          2. Leads to action research - quantify and reflect
          3. How to move forward: You must define what "good looks like" , identify data and indicators of success, relate stories to impact and outcomes, focus on what will be better
        7. Stage 5 Collaboration - How can I relate what I am doing to what others are doing?
          1. How to move forward: Connect to others within and outside of the organization, express the idea of building their leadership, think about opportunities to showcase or make public the work, celebrate successes loudly
          2. Important: You must move through the other stages first before coming to this point. 
        8. Stage 6 Refocusing - I have some ideas about something that would work even better
          1. "How do I move from Good to Great"
          2. Ideas: Going to conferences, Blogging/Tweeting about it
    6. My Coaching "To-Do" List
      1. Look at the applications of my fellows and read their thoughts.  Consider the following: What are they expecting from coaching?  How close is their vision to my vision?
      2. Think about the first meeting.  Starting our conversations at "Stage 0" and working through the questions sequentially
      3. Get to know my fellows and their communication styles.  Strive to understand them better and where they are coming from / what their needs are.  Continually improve in reframing what I am saying to better suit the communication styles of the fellows I am working with.


  1. Krystal,

    Although your focus is technology, you may find NCSM a useful resource, particularly if you end up coaching more than your fair share of mathematics teachers. They are the go-to organization for people interesting in learning more about mathematics education leadership and coaching. They have a Coaching Corner with lots of great tips to help coaches get started.

    Good luck with the new position.

    1. David,
      Thanks so much for the info/resource. This year half of my "fellows" are actually math teachers, so this will be of great help. I appreciate it!


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