Sunday, August 3, 2014

Beginning Coaching - Exploration

In her book The Art of Coaching, Elena Aguilar gives advice for those new to coaching and how to start coaching with the aim of bringing about changes.  She refers to the first step as the "stage of exploration" and outlines 10 steps for gathering information and recording discoveries and reflections.  As we plan to meet with our new tech integration coaches on Tuesday, I'm keen to follow this advice to help them get started with their new roles.
  1. Gather relevant documents in order to get an insight into the big picture.  In this case we plan to share the big trends we have observed in tech integration based on a two year audit of student artifacts.  
  2. Gather and analyze data. Using the services of a data scientist, we have been able to visualize the data in a way that makes it easy to spot patterns (as well as outliers and surprises).  Compile questions about the data.
  3. Initiate informal conversations to build relationships and expand your understanding.
  4. Uncover knowledge, skills and passions.  As a coach your role is to help teachers transfer knowledge, understanding, skills and beliefs to bridge the gap between what they can already do and what they want to do better.
  5. Explore beliefs about change.  This could be an exploration of the new skills teachers have already learned as adults and what the learning process was like.  It's important in an adult learning situation to be aware of how an individual teacher now goes about learning, and to explore their beliefs about how change happens.  Aguilar writes that it's important at this stage to bring belief systems to the surface because beliefs can hold us back or propel us forward.
  6. Offer personality and psychological self-assessments.  Basically this is saying that it can be really useful to know what type of person you are working with to be able to build on their strengths.
  7. Observe the teachers as another way to gather information about strengths.  For most people being observed is fairly stressful so try to come to an agreement about exactly what you will be observing.
  8. Conduct formal interviews and surveys.  Gather baseline data which can be useful if surveys are repeated in 3 - 6 months in order to compare results/progress.
  9. Look for the fires.  Look and listen for the current reality and any issues that may indicate that systems are breaking down.  A teacher who is wanting to grow shouldn't be spending a lot of time and energy on these things.
  10. Engage in self-awareness exercises for coaches.  One of the things we are going to suggest is that coaches keep a reflective journal (a Google Doc) to record what they are doing and a spreadsheet to log their time.  There are several questions that coaches reflect on right at the start of their job:
  • Why am I looking forward to coaching?
  • What might be challenging?
  • Which skills might I need to develop?
  • What additional knowledge do I need?
  • What is it about me that might be an asset in my coaching?
  • What is it about me that might present a challenge?
I'm really looking forward to meeting with our new tech integration coaches next week!

Photo Credit: Paulo Brandão via Compfight cc

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