Friday, 26 February 2016

It's Personal

Technology is an effective tool for communication. This week I shared my learning of Twitter, blogging, TeachMeets and Voxer and how I utilise these platforms to connect with educators. Being connected has many advantages but as a coach, I believe a more authentic trusting relationship is established by connecting on a personal basis.

Emails have so many benefits as you can quickly respond, provide information or seek clarification. A wise women shared that if your email requires more than two small paragraphs, then maybe you should speak in-person with the recipient. If your email consists of a comment, issue or argument that is complex, it may be wise to initiate a conversation either by phone or in person.

I believe corresponding through emails can, at times, slow or even hinder the building of a trusting relationship. We all hear education is built on relationships and how trust is so important. I suppose it comes down to efficiency versus effectiveness. Next time I commence writing an email, I am going to ask myself-could I pick up the phone, walk down the hall, or make the effort to have a personal conversation? If education is built on relationships and trust, shouldn't I respect and value these relationships and make that extra effort?

The questions continue...

Saturday, 13 February 2016

An Adaptable Path

I’ve commenced a new role this year as a Professional Learning Coach and started on my PhD path. I believe in mentoring new teachers and coaching experienced teachers, although I’m beginning to question this more. I’ve experienced being mentored as a beginning teacher in California, which is why I’m so passionate about mentoring. Yesterday, I spoke with my 'assigned' BTSA mentor. Coincidentally, my second mentor (personally chosen) emailed yesterday and although we only speak every 3-6 months, he is always supportive and generous with his time and knowledge. He is a STAR mentor in Seattle Public Schools. Both these relationships demonstrate that once a relationship is established and based on trust, it can endure time and distance and can adapt to suit new goals. I’ve been reading many books and articles about coaching and mentoring and it’s confronting at times for I’ve realised the more I learn, the less I know. A conversation with another coach made me realise that it’s ok to not have all answers. If we did, then where is the learning, the experience, the growth?

To be honest, I’ve been struggling with this. I’ve also inquired and learnt about the experiences of others at various schools and I was wondering which path to follow-cognitive coaching, instructional coaching, growth coaching etc. During the week I phoned an amazing educator I met at Harvard. It was a 15-minute call, but within those 15 minutes she provided the reassurance and direction I truly needed. Being out of your comfort zone is good but at times, you need support and encouragement. This is coaching! I was being coached as a PhD student. With established trust and good questioning skills, a coach can support you to leap into the stretch zone or retrieve you from the panic zone.

It’s not innovative to follow another’s path but one needs to learn from others and their experiences. How do I create an adaptable path that incorporates all teachers' professional learning needs, while aligning with my beliefs about professional development.

Professional development should be individualised, empowering & sustainable.