Monday, September 14, 2015

Book Notes & Reflections: The Art of Coaching (Chapter 2: What is Coaching?)

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.

Elena Aguilar starts this chapter by describing a coach "who didn't know what she was" (page 18).  I felt a lot of that last year as I was getting started, but now I have a much clearer view of my role.  Because of that, I can explain it better to others and get fewer of the "IT"-type requests that would come my way last year.  It's far from "there" yet, but the first step is in being clear with myself why I am there - and then communicating that with the teachers on campus.

There are four things that Aguilar says coaching is NOT: (page 19)
1. A way to enforce a program
2. A tool for fixing people
3. Therapy
4. Consulting

I have seen all of these in one light or another and have had to combat them.  I can't force teachers to use the new math units, but I can support them in their process of doing so.  I can't force teachers to learn and coming across as someone trying to "fix" them is only going to damage any level of trust or relationship that was built.  I need to make sure that the focus is on "learning and developing new skills and capacities" (page 20), not on counseling a teacher through issues of their past.  Lastly, I need to remember that I am not an "expert" coming in to "train" others; rather, I am there to help "build [the] capacity of others by facilitating their learning".  (page 20)


Aguilar describes three models of coaching: Directive, Facilitative, and Transformational.
The art of coaching is not just about what coaches do, it's also about what coaches think, believe, and their way of being.  Because of that, we must approach our coaching as not just helping teachers change what they do, but also how our fellows think, believe, and their way of being.

Directive Coaching - focuses on changing behaviors
Facilitative Coaching - focuses on developing ways of being or exploring beliefs that will in turn change behaviors
Transformational Coaching - a process that explores behaviors, beliefs, and ways of being of both individual clients and the coach herself, as well as institutional systemic transformation.

What coaching model / stance should we take?  It depends on the situation.

"Directive coaching strategies are relevant and necessary at times...[they] are also limited...Less likely to result in long-term changes of practice or internalization of learning...[does] not generally expand the teacher's internal capacity to reflect, make decisions, or explore her ways of being." (page 22)  As I reflect on last year, there were definitely teachers I worked with that I took this stance more often than not (sometimes they indirectly asked for it and I didn't have the skills to redirect them to a more reflective stance, other times I think I just got impatient and found it "easier" to take this stance.  However, long-term growth doesn't happen when I stay in that stance!  I have seen it, and I need to work to improve this.

"Facilitative coaching supports clients to learn new ways of thinking and being through reflection, analysis, observation, and experimentation... Coach does not share expert knowledge... [Coach] builds on existing skills, knowledge, and beliefs and helps the client to construct new skills, knowledge, and beliefs that will form the basis for future actions." (page 23)  When a fellow reflects and constructs their own knowledge and beliefs, there is deeper ownership of it and it's more likely there will be long-term change.  If there isn't that "buy-in" that is created when the fellow feels like they are the ones in the driver's seat, they may not continue on with any of the changes implemented beyond the coaching relationship.  Facilitative coaching seems to be a type of cognitive and inquiry-based coaching.

Aguilar gives a great summary of the Zone of Proximal Development (ZPD) theory by Vygotzky.  She says, "The ZPD is the difference between what a learn can do without help and what he can do with help...a learner's ZPD is constantly shifting...When a learner is in the ZPD, [with the] appropriate assistance and tools - the scaffolding - then he can accomplish the skill." (page 23)  Every teacher I work with has a different ZPD and part of my job is identify the type and amount of scaffolding they need

Transformational Coaching is directed so "the impact we have on an individual will reverberate on other levels." (page 25)  In addition, it's not a one-way street.  It's "not something we do to another... It is a complex dynamic engaged in by both client and coach." (page 29)

The rest of the book I'm sure will go into this in more detail. :)

...Until Chapter 3...

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