4 Reflections on Authenticity in Instructional Coaching
Always growing. One of my favorite things about teaching is that it NEVER grows old. Each year you’ll meet new students, new colleagues, perhaps teach a new course. Circumstances aren’t the only things that change with each passing year, our thoughts about teaching and learning change, too. That is, if we continue to grow and learn. I have a ravenous appetite for new ideas. Thanks to the internet (predominantly Twitter) there is no end to the creative ways I can teach students. If it was something that worked well in class, I would burst if I didn’t share them. As a classroom teacher, I’d like to think I was generous with my findings, but as a coach it’s my job. The luxury to scour the internet and think systemically on how to best encourage and support good teaching school wide is not lost on me. I feel blessed.
I LOVE to talk shop! I find most teachers do. Even teachers who might not admit it if you asked them. If you start bringing up issues related to teaching and learning (growth mindset, PBL, etc), the ideas and opinions will fly. Mixed in those opinions are arguments for pedagogy and philosophy that influence practice. This sharpening of irons spurs growth. Ironically, at least in my building, there is precious little time for productive teacher talk.
Coaching lets me talk teaching all day. The only difficult thing is that by nature people (including yours truly) are reluctant to change and can be initially defensive when their regular practice is challenged in anyway. However, I’m hoping most teachers ruminate on constructive criticism and come back willing to try new ideas. I love this quote from Elena Aguilar, “The art of coaching is the art of nudging without leaving bruises.” So true. I want to push to the point of “cognitive dissonance” but without closing relational doors. I do believe this is an art and I’m hoping to master it. I’m nowhere near an artist. Right now, I’m a two year old with crayons.
LOVE is my quintessential core value. “Above all, put on love which binds us together in perfect unity,” Colossians 3:14. My hope is to be loving and kind in every interaction, to believe the best, seek the best for and encourage the whole teacher. My motto this year has been “teachers are people, too.” We have personal battles, health crises, families that need our attention and, let’s face it–teaching is hard! I hope that teachers feel as though I’m on their team–even when they resist change–I’m FOR them! Coaching gives me the time to listen and empathize with their concerns. As a teacher who tried to do that for students all day, I often didn’t have time to stop and give undivided attention to my colleagues. I can and do make time for that now.
A Unifying Force. I love how Colossians 3:14 says that love “binds us together in perfect unity.” As a coach, I can be an agent for positive change. We can help to resolve relational conflict and find systemic gaps. The goal–a healthy learning community. This is the messiest part of coaching. People and relationships are a mess. I once read a book entitled Relationships: A Mess Worth Making. Isn’t that so true? We are better when we join forces, but only if we can move in the same positive direction. We won’t always agree and we’ll be better for it. I often think of Hegel’s Dialectic: how the debate of thesis and anti-thesis bring us closer to the truth. We’re better together if we can debate these things in a loving, self-less, humble way. “Love binds us together in perfect unity.”