I am currently reading Coaching for Equity: Conversations That Change Practice by Elena Aguilar. Each chapter ends with a series of reflective questions for the reader to consider in our own equity and coaching journey, and I’ve decided to blog some of my reflections. I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments.
Chapter 2: Jumping into Coaching for Equity
Here are a few of the reflective questions from the end of this chapter, which delved into compassion, and knowing ourselves more deeply in order to coach for equity more effectively.
How do you think your background, experiences, and identity markers (especially your race and gender) affected how you felt when reading this chapter?
I am much more aware of my identity markers and the unearned advantages I was born with than I was when I began teaching or coaching years ago. Reading this chapter reminded me of my early days as a teacher. Looking back, I was similar to the teacher example in this chapter. Sadly I, too, entered the profession as a white woman wanting to “save” the poor children of color I was assigned to teach. There were a few things Stephanie said in this chapter that made me cringe. I cringed because I said or thought similar things 25 years ago, and I also cringed because I know more now and I want us all to be better. As a young teacher, I didn’t know my own identity markers well, and I certainly didn’t know how to have empathy, without pity, for students who came from different backgrounds than my own. I made assumptions about my students and their lives based on media portrayals, not on reality. I learned how to get to know my students over time. Making home visits was one of the best things I ever did as a teacher or principal.
How do you feel when someone cries a lot? How is your response different based on your relationship to that person and based on what they are crying about?
This is an important reflection because equity work is challenging and often brings up a range of complex emotions. I, myself, am prone to cry when I am stressed out, overwhelmed, sad, or hurt. When I’m speaking with someone who is crying, I try to acknowledge the person’s feelings and give space for them to share the true cause of the tears and underlying emotions. The level of trust and familiarity in the relationship is a critical component. If I already have a lot of trust with someone, I can push through tears and emotions and go deeper into issues. However, if I have limited trust or am in a new relationship, I often feel myself slowing down or backing away when someone expresses significant emotion. I appreciate reading the way Aguilar approached the crying teacher throughout this chapter, as she listened, waited, returned, addressed the crying directly, helped the teacher name the emotions, and coached her to begin to make a plan to help herself.
I appreciate that Aguilar ends this chapter with a to do item for us to read books that will help us learn about people whose identify and experiences are different than our own. This is something that drives many of my own reading choices, which I track on my monthly reading blogs. I want to make sure that every month I am reading something about or by someone with different identity markers than my own.
Coaching for Equity Reflections Series: