The Coaching Effect

Here goes.  My first confession.  I’m biased.

Now I suppose you might be thinking this is kind of odd since coaches are known for their extreme open-mindedness, but we are also known for being pretty honest and transparent.  So, if we’re going to go on this journey together then I feel the need to let you know up front a part of my educator soul that cannot be swayed.

I have 100% Tom Cruise Jumping on a Couch Level unreasonable bias about one thing in education: instructional coaching. (Cue the shock & awe effects) I believe that not only does everyone need a coach, that everyone in education would benefit from BEING a coach.

The research alone makes a strong argument.  A recent meta analysis of 60 studies on coaching in schools by Matthew Kraft and David Blazar found that instructional coaching can improve teacher’s practice and student achievement by as much as a decade of experience. (For the full article in Education Next click here.)  

But that’s not the reason I’m so passionate about coaching.  Truthfully, the main reason stems from personal experience. The five years I spent as a coach were the most impactful of my entire career. I grew more as a teacher, learner, and pretty much overall human being in those five years than I ever did in my 13 previous years as an educator.  

Why?  It comes down to 12 foundational tenets that I learned at the beginning of my coaching career and continued to practice, reflect upon and refine. (For additional thoughts on these ideas click here.)

  1. TRUST
  2. Questioning
  3. Feedback
  4. Reflection
  5. Learner-Driven
  6. Strength-Focused
  7. Clear Communicator
  8. Risk Taker
  9. Passionate Learner
  10. Creative
  11. Knowledgeable, but Open-Minded
  12. Emotional Intelligence

All of these principles point to the ultimate goal of a coach which is to build the capacity of others.  When I first became an administrator I viewed these skills as an asset that would help me to be a good leader. However, reflecting upon the experiences I have had as an educator, I have come to the realization that building these skills would benefit not just school leadership, but all stakeholders.

According to the International Center for Leadership, the Top 10 Skills that employers are looking for in employees are:

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If we are going to empower students throughout their school experience to embody these skills then we need to explore different instructional approaches that focus less on what the teacher has to offer and more on how to develop the unique strengths and talents of everyone.  

Everyone in education should BE a coach.

Throughout this blog I plan on further developing and reflecting upon this premise. I will be sharing stories, examples and resources from my experience as a coach, teacher, administrator and student. Depending on where you are at in your educational journey my hope is that you find something that you can connect to.  Some of the questions I am currently pondering are:

What would happen if we approached all facets of education through the lens of a coach?  

What does a coaching approach to schools look like in practice?

How might this approach impact the type of learner that we develop in our schools?  

How might this impact our world now and in the future?

Although I am insanely biased about instructional coaching, I truly believe in the power of growth through feedback and listening to other perspectives. I look forward to hearing your ideas and wonderings.