Over the past 8 weeks, I’ve been taking an online course through PLP Network called “Connected Coaching”. In taking the course, one of the smaller goals I identified for myself was to begin publishing my thoughts and experiences on this blog, something I’ve been very shy about doing so far. But to honour my learning path, I’m taking this opportunity to share my reflections on my learning in the course so far. For me, it’s been a very, very powerful and transformational learning experience, thanks to the Powerful Learning Practice network, our course instructor and coach Lani Ritter Hall, and the 17 inspiring co-learners in the course.
Reflections Part One
My entire interest and efforts in taking this course have been directed towards learning how I can become not just a connected coach, but a very effective one. Being recently retired and freed from daily classroom responsibilities, my focus has revolved around the new possibilities of coaching informally online and providing help to some of my local colleagues who are beginning to explore the world of connected teaching and learning, and who have begun to express an interest in learning how to leverage the potential of connected learning with their students.
Assignment: Reflect upon these Connected Coaching standards
1. Persevere in exploring ideas and concepts, rethinking, revising, and continual repacking and unpacking as they build upon and assist in uncovering strengths of those they coach.
> > This has been the largest overall learning for me in the course so far: applying the concept of students taking responsibility for their own learning within the coaching sphere. I’ve been un-learning and new-learning all kinds of ways to be a much more effective help and support to my colleagues: first, by really listening and understanding their personal stories and what they bring to a coaching conversation, and secondly, by encouraging them to explore and identify what they want to learn next and how they want to do it – uncovering their own strengths, and building upon those — and genuinely directing their own learning. This is a far distance from the old style of coaching where as a coach, I used to offer an agenda, and teachers either bought into it or didn’t, put it into practice, or didn’t. It seems so obvious to me now that the power and beauty of the connected coaching model lies in “coming alongside” and supporting my colleagues as they explore and lead themselves on a journey which meets their own wants and needs. To become a really effective coach, I can see that I especially need to develop better skills in asking reflective and probing questions which can help a coachee open up to new possibilities in their thinking and practice.
2. Engage in discussions on difficult or messy topics from an appreciative inquiry perspective to increase confidence and self efficacy.
> > OMGGW. My learning in this area has been huge, and I have only begun to understand it! I wish I had learned to work from an appreciative inquiry perspective 3 years ago. So many of the conversations in informal coaching situations in my school which quickly “plopped” could have gone so differently, if:
i) I’d understood that I couldn’t just assume a base of rapport and trust and understanding between staff before attempting to begin a coaching process with them,
ii) if I’d known why, how, and all the amazing things I could have learned about the paths my colleagues were already travelling and where they might want to go next, through listening and questioning rather than making assumptions and my standard ‘talking, telling, and showing’ strategy,
and finally –
iii) if I’d understood how keeping a mindful focus on the positive could help guide my colleagues from repeating discussions of problems, obstacles, and road-blocks they foresaw, into opening up conversations about exploring new possibilities within their practice.
With some of these same people now seeking my help, I’m deeply appreciative of these colleagues giving me the gift of a new opportunity to try it all over again with new understandings and skills.