Monday, September 7, 2015

Book Notes & Reflections: The Art of Coaching (Introduction)

I've never blogged my notes and thoughts through a book, but I figure there's never a better time than NOW!

My goal is to create a reference & reflective place for me as I continue growing as a coach.

See my notes from all book chapters on my Coaching Page.

Direct quotes from the book are in blue.

The author, Elena Aguilar, describes her experience being coached as one where she felt "stretched, but supported".  This is how I want my fellows to feel.  I want to push them just a little past their comfort zone, but make sure they confidently know that I am there on the ride with them.  My area for growth is in how to effectively "stretch" adult learners in an appropriate way that challenges them and makes them feel valued.  Aguilar says her coach "asked provocative questions... guided [her] to look at situations from a perspective [she'd] never considered... pushed [her] to try something different in [her] work." From my (one year) experience with coaching, it seems easier with certain teachers to do this than with others.  Part of this goes down to the foundational level of relationship, but part of it is also personality and communication style.  How do we make it work with all types of teachers (not in the same exact way for all, obviously)?

What is Transformation?  Aguilar pushes for "coaching for transformation", so it's important to define what transformation is.  She says that it is "an end result almost unrecognizable from its previous form, a change so massive and complete, so thorough and comprehensive that until we are there, it is unimaginable."  As I reflect on last year, I do see some teachers whose practice was transformed, but others that definitely were not.  I must remind myself that transformation does not happen in a year, and I may have just helped to plant some seeds with the teachers I work with that will lead to a transformative journey.  Thinking about this definition is actually a little scary because we don't know where we will end up.  It's risky, and a little hard for my "goal-oriented" brain to wrap my head around that we are working towards a goal that isn't clearly defined.  Just a few paragraphs later, Aguilar says that coaching is challenging for the goal-oriented or those that like working in a linear progressions; however, she then states that "goals and plans will be crucial for this journey, as long as they are guides and not dictators."  Phew!

Coaching for transformation is not just about coaching individual teachers, but about helping change the whole system.  This seems daunting, but it's important to understand that it takes time.  I must remember this one "simple" fact:  "While the whole system may take generations to transform, the coaching [I] do today can impact students immediately.  The effort is well worth it for them."

...Until Chapter 1...

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