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 10: Recognizing Impact
Recognizing Impact is the second of the four phases of Transformational Coaching that Aguilar created. This chapter’s story continues to tell the story of Aguilar’s experiences coaching Khai, and specifically her decisions of when to move into this phase and when to open up a discussion about race.
How did you feel reading the description of visualizing legacy?
I love this idea and will use this in the future! Aguilar asks clients to imagine X years into the future (working with a Kinder teacher, the X was 12) and they receive an email from a student. What would the email say? This exercise immediately made Khai, the teacher, introspective and energized. Most teachers answer in some way that brings in a wish for a social-emotional connection with their students and an academic impact as well, which are the primary purposes of education. It made me smile to read Khai’s reflections, as it once again humanized a teacher who had been portrayed negatively.
How have you seen data used in schools? In which ways has data been used as a tool of oppression, and in which ways has it been used as a tool for liberation?
I had a visceral reaction when I read about Khai’s principal making all teachers post their students’ reading scores on the front of their classroom doors. I have worked in systems where data walls were required, and where we were expected to make our data public, including for students and parents to see. I saw humiliation, embarrassment, and dejection regularly in these places. There was a lack of hope and limited self-efficacy in the staff. I have also worked in places where data walls were used by the adults for reflection, collaboration, intervention, and support. Depending on how conversations were facilitated in these places, sometimes I saw the same humiliation and other times I saw honest conversations where educators could speak frankly about skill gaps amongst educators and students. I have also worked in places where data was a small tool, not a large HAMMER, in educators’ tool belts that included a variety of resources.
The data is not the issue. It’s the human interpretations and the conversations that rely on individuals’ beliefs that get tricky, especially when students, families, communities, or cultures are blamed.
When does impatience come up for you in your work? How do you understand it and respond to it?
I often blame my NJ upbringing for my fast-talking, fast-thinking, desire to move fast. Truly, I have a strong sense of purpose and a desire to make change that will positively impact students and staff. When I see problems, issues, or concerns, I want to solve, fix, and make changes quickly. However, over my decades in education I have learned that fast is not best. If I move too fast I will be moving alone.
I recently had a new colleague write me an email thanking me for recognize that equity work takes time. This is an area in which I feel particularly passionate and I can recognize how much change is needed in our educational systems. I feel that sense of urgency every day, but I also realize that my patience is more important than ever as I lead this work. We all come to this work with different backgrounds, levels of experience, and needs. I work on my patience and developing spaces for others to have patience all the time.
What does self-care mean to you? How do you care for yourself?
Self-care looks like different things depending on my needs, stress level, and emotions. Sometimes I need to carefully plan my schedule to ensure that I have breaks for reflection, time to have 1:1 conversations, and time for walks on the beach. Other times, I need to fuel my introverted-self with a fun fiction book, and a quiet weekend at home. My self-care also includes mindfulness and mediation (thanks Elena for the reminders!), drinking more water, and using essential oils.
Coaching for Equity Reflections Series: