I have recently been reading The Art of Coaching by Elena Aguilar. It is a great resource and in fact I purchased a copy for each of the coaches in our district, to use as a book study throughout our work together this year. In chapter three the author goes over her coaching beliefs and encourages us to put our own coaching beliefs on paper. I love these quotes as she sets up the purpose of knowing your own beliefs:
- “We do not really see through our eyes or hear through our ears, but through our beliefs” (p. 33).
- “Here’s the thing about beliefs: we all have them and they drive our actions. We experience our beliefs as truths, and we can usually find evidence to support them” (p 34).
- “We don’t see things they way they are; we see things the way we are” (p. 35).
- “I encourage all coaches to articulate the beliefs from which they want to work” (p. 43).
Here is my
first second* draft of my own coaching beliefs:
* Come from a place of strengths: We all have strengths and the best way for me to coach is to start from an individual’s strengths. People are also more willing to hear suggestions and take new actions if a coaching conversation begins by acknowledging the hard work, dedication, and positive elements already in place.
* Voice and Choice matter: We all learn and grow when we have a say in our learning. When I coach, I work hard to LISTEN and then to provide an opportunity for teachers to have a voice about their teaching. I also work to provide choice- there is not just one way to coach, teach, or do something. The more voice and choice an individual has, the more buy-in he or she has to make a positive change.
* All must mean ALL: ALL students can learn, all teachers can grow, anything is possible when we all come together as a community. This means that I coach, learn, and collaborate with a positive belief in those I work with and for. This also means that I have to challenge statements and actions that go against a belief in the success of ALL.
* Life-long learning: All of my work is grounded in the belief that we are all life-long learners. I do not believe that I have all of the answers, but I am committed to learning new information whenever I can. I strive to model the seeking and cultivating of new learning. Coaches are leaders on a school site/ at the district level and I believe that a coach can demonstrate true life-long learning in thoughts and actions.
* Trust matters: Change does not occur without a trusting relationship present. As a coach I believe in the teachers with whom I work and I dedicate time to develop trust. Trust comes from mutual respect, following through on promises, demonstrating competency and a willingness to be open, honest, and imperfect together.
* Walk the walk and talk the talk: I am a coach who is not afraid to get my hands dirty with model lessons, collaborative planning sessions, shared frustrations, shared successes, etc. A coach is only a coach if they walk the walk MORE than they talk the talk!
* There is not just one “right” answer: Coaching is about a process, a journey, and not one specific destination. In addition, coaching is not about getting someone to my personal belief, but to support them on their journey to be their best self. As a coach I work to help others find their best processes along this journey.
These were my initial reflections after reading this chapter. I plan to revisit these statements throughout the year and make revisions as needed. While these are not set in stone, I know that my beliefs drive my actions each and every day. When I coach, these statements are what hold me accountable to being the best coach I can be. I think it is important for every leader to reflect on their own coaching beliefs. True instructional leaders are coaches and we must take advantage of each coaching opportunity we are given.
What are your coaching beliefs?
*Revision note: After reflecting on Carol’s coaching questions in the comments, I made some revisions to my coaching belief statements. Thank you Carol for pushing my thinking!
Wow. Once again full of powerful thoughts and insights. Thank you. I have a wondering for your reflection and will be interested in your thoughts. Is it possible that these belief statements would still hold their power without the words “should” and “must”?
I agree with starting with strengths and trust being key. I need to think more on providing choice, not sure what that looks like.
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