Presently I am participating in an online Connected Coaching course. Many people will think of a sports coach, but that is not the coaching I will be writing about. This is the first all online course I’ve been involved in and it is the first time I’ve actually created a learning pledge to express what I want to learn and how I want to show that learning. Since I’ve not done any blogging recently I thought that using my blog as a place to consolidate my thoughts and learning it would get me back to blogging. So I’d like to begin with sharing what I have been learning in the first three weeks.

One thing I have had to clarify in my own thinking is the difference between a coach and mentor. I like this description I found by Brefi Group, “A coach has some great questions for your answers; a mentor has some great answers for your questions.” In my present position at school I realized that I am both a coach and a mentor and so it is important to understand what each of these positions entail. As a mentor I spend time in classrooms, supporting teachers as at times modeling lessons. I also discuss curriculum, lesson plans and resources. As a coach I probably don’t need to spend time in the classroom but spend time listening to the teacher and asking questions to help the teacher.

Appreciative inquiry seems to generally be used at a systems level. It begins with Discovery, by asking questions that illicit stories of what is done well. Members are then asked to Dream  or imagine what might be. Next comes Design and dialoguing about what would be. The final stage would be Destiny, creating what will be. Thank you to Sarah Stevens for the helpful slide presentation of how Appreciative inquiry was used in her community. Focusing on the positives and using the strengths to build what is desired is the heart of appreciative inquiry.

In my position as the elementary curriculum coordinator, working with the middle school and high school curriculum coordinators I can begin to imagine how we might utilize Appreciative inquiry. We have some big picture items that need to be looked at and considered. Asking teachers and other staff to share stories and then move through the stages would hopefully be a way to engage all stakeholders. It will take time, but having a shared vision for the future and positive energy from the stories will help the process.

Connected Coaching is built on the work of various other:

  • Evocative Coaching (Tschannen-Moran & Tschannen-Moran, 2010)

  • Cognitive Coaching (Costa & Garmston,1994)

  • Appreciative Inquiry (Cooperrider & Whitney, 2005)

  • and to a lesser extent from Instructional Coaching (Knight, 2007)

The coaching model I am most familiar with is the GROW model created by Alexandar Graham, Sir John Whitmore and colleagues.

  • Goal – What is your goal? It is best to be stated as a SMART goal: Specific, Measurable, Acceptable, Realistic, Timely
  • Reality – Where are you now? What is the current situation?
  • Options/Obstacles – Brainstorm possible options
  • Willingness/Way forward – Which option do you prefer? What will you do next?

A coaches role is to ask questions to help the coachee find answers or at least to recognize options and then help to hold the person accountable to take next steps. There are various sites that give sample questions that can be used at each stage of GROW.

Coaching involves building trust and asking questions. Building trust with people you work with is usually done by sharing experiences and overtime. But how do you build trust online? In the Connected Coaching course we’ve have various opportunities to share about ourselves online. One of the activities was to create a slide for a slide show on Trust building. This is an open activity that anyone can contribute to. What do you think it takes to build trust online? Feel free to contribute to slides.

So what does all this mean and what am I going to do? I know that a big part of my present job is mentoring, but even as a mentor I want to:

  • Ask questions to help teachers set their own goals
  • Listen to teachers’ stories
  • Provide resources
  • Support teachers reaching their goals.

I still have much to learn but appreciate the positive modeling that Amy Musone and Jennifer Bloomingdale are providing through Connected Coaching.

4 thoughts on “Coaching

  1. Joan, so appreciate your thoughtful reflection of the past few weeks. You’re thinking that as you manage your roles of mentor and coach you will be given the opportunity to integrate some of the concepts from Connected Coaching into both roles. Your hope is to use your blog to share your experiences, reflect and make connections to the concepts. I noticed you shared the GROW model as well, wondering if you would consider sharing some of the similarities and differences between the GROW model and Connected Coaching that you’ve noticed so far? I’m looking forward to reading your insights over the next few weeks!

    • Jen,
      Thank you for your encouragement. I’m still trying to understand the difference between Connected Coaching and the GROW model. It seems Connected Coaching has incorporated various strategies from several methods. I’m still not completely clear in my mind what Connected Coaching is. I will continue to learn and try to understand.

  2. Jean,
    You wear different professional hats. You act as both a mentor and a coach and found the following example to offer clarity to those roles: “A coach has some great questions for your answers; a mentor has some great answers for your questions.”

    Although you wear a mentor’s hat, you see ways in which you can incorporate coaching dispositions in what you do as a mentor. You see appreciative inquiry, listening, and questioning as helpful tools to move people forward. Seeing ways in which you can incorporate coaching strategies into other areas of what you do is exciting. Really looking forward to reading about how you help others discover possibility!

    • Amy,

      Thank you for your encouragement and support on this learning journey. I find it challenging at times to step back from the mentor hat and try to coach. I am working on how to use some of the online tools to help our elementary classroom PLC grow and build community as we welcome new members next year.

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