Saturday, September 19, 2015

Book Notes & Reflections: The Art of Coaching (Chapter 4: What Must a Coach Know?)

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 nature of this chapter led me to taking a lot of direct notes from the book, so the bulleted lists below consist of a lot of content straight from or summarized from the book.

The goal of this chapter is to introduce us to "Coaching Lenses", because "when we're not working from a sound theoretical basis, we're just throwing strands of spaghetti on the wall to see if they stick" (page 45).  Coaching lenses are valuable because we "can look at the same thing through different lenses and construct very different interpretations of the same reality" (page 49).

"The purpose of my coaching is not to impose a belief system, but ot help my coachee explore his beliefs and actions." (page 62)


The six lenses are:

1. Inquiry
2. Change Management
3. Systems thinking
4. Adult Learning
5. Systemic oppression 
6. Emotional intelligence

Here are some of my key notes from 5 of the 6 lenses above (not Systemic Oppression)


  • values questions as much as the answers that are found
  • understands that there is more to the picture than what we initially see
  • we must think about the way we pose questions, because that will determine the nature of the answer
  • we want others to create their own knowledge and their own solutions
Change Management:
  • pushes us to consider how change might be made
  • reminds us that beneficial change is possible
  • understands that change cannot be made unless the following are present: incentives, resources, vision, clear action plan
  • we must consider a person's will, skill, knowledge, and capacity to change
Systems Thinking:
  • Understands that everything is connected
  • To understand how the whole system works, we must look at the pieces, the whole, and the interactions
Adult Learning:
  • There are many more starting points with adults and sometimes more things to "undo"
  • We must understand the previous experiences, knowledge, competencies, beliefs, and interests that the learner is bringing to the new space
  • We must accept that people can only be where they currently are
  • Adults want control over the what, who, how, why, and where of our learning
  • Adults must:
    • see relevance
    • have some say
    • have direct, concrete ways to apply what they've learned
    • need to feel emotionally safe in order to learn
Emotional Intelligence:
  • Will help us to tune in to an individual's ability or skill to identify, assess, and control the emotions of oneself, others, and of groups.

In my work, I can see using the lens of inquiry, adult learning, and emotional intelligence consistently, and the other two when looking at things from a broader scope.  I've mentioned several times before that my goal this year is to become a better questioner and prober, so using the lens of inquiry will help me focus on that.  The lens of adult learning and emotional intelligence is foundational to the relational and trust piece that must be there for coaching to be successful.  It's not just something you use at the beginning of the year though, and I must remember to continually look through things with those lenses throughout the year.


A frame used in the vignette example was "first I'd like to hear about how you experienced today."  This is valuable to me because sometimes teachers will want right away for my perspective on a lesson, or sometimes I jump in too soon to offer my insight.  If my goal as a coach is to help my fellows explore and reflect themselves, then I need to take the time to let them talk through how they experienced the different lessons and just probe them on.

...Until Chapter 5...

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