It has been a summer full of PD opportunities, and I am so grateful for it. I have always enjoyed learning about learning and teaching, and now that I’m transitioning from Learning Achievement Coach to Tier One Instructional Coach, I’ve enjoyed it even more. Teaching (and subsequently leading) is what I feel called to do.
I’ve always been an avid learner. The story goes that I came home from Kindergarten on the first day madder than a wet hen because my teacher hadn’t taught us how to read! I excelled in school, loved being in the classroom, read and drew and performed. In Grade Seven I thought that I wanted to be a mathematical engineer (the lure of a big salary was pressing on my teenage brain). By Grade Twelve, following a summer job working as a programmer for a recreational program for kids, I knew where my heart was. I applied to the University of Saskatchewan’s College of Education, and the rest, as they say, is history.
I have not always been a coach. I have taught for 15 years now, multi-grade and straight-grade classrooms from Kindergarten through Grade 12. I have been a high school soccer team manager and a middle-years volleyball assistant coach. I have held the role as Learning Achievement Coach at a fabulous school for four years. And yet… I haven’t always been the coach I have figured out that I’d like to be.
As I experienced Cognitive Coaching training this summer and as I have read and reflected on The Art of Coaching (Aguilar, 2013), my ideas of effective teaching, coaching, and leadership have been challenged and grown.
The mission of Cognitive Coaching is to produce self-directed persons with the cognitive capacity for excellence both independently and as members of a community. (Cognitive Coaching Seminars Foundation Training Learning Guide, 2013, 19)
There are Four Support Functions in Cognitive Coaching (15):
I feel that each of these support functions plays a role in leadership as teaching in a classroom: teacher as coach, collaborator, consultant, and evaluator of students and their learning. I also feel that they are all support functions in the role of leadership as working with colleagues. I believe that I have gotten the collaborative (team approach to forming ideas and solutions together) and the consultative (informing others of pedagogy and so-called ‘best practices’) down pat. But I aspire to the leadership support function of coaching.
I have consulted a lot. I wanted to help others get better at their craft, to grow their knowledge and skills, and develop their understanding of current practices in education. Consulting is a support function of coaching/leadership. Sometimes I had the expertise or experience that others needed to learn, see, and then practice on their own.
But I aspire to the leadership support function of coaching.
I am going into this coaching role because I want to help mediate
- efficacy – being a problem solver and taking action;
- flexibility – seeing multiple perspectives and being willing to consider change;
- craftsmanship – being life-long learners and always striving to grow;
- consciousness – being metacognitive and self-aware of own decisions and resulting effects; and
- interdependence – contributing to the common good and remaining true to self
in the colleagues and students I work with (Cognitive Coaching, 26). I want to be a transformative part in creating a culture of learning in our classrooms, schools, divisions, and world! I will be a leader/coach because I feel called to help others recognize their potential as leaders themselves.
I start with the premise that the function of leadership is to produce more leaders, not more followers. – Ralph Nader
I am full of nervous energy. As I reflect on the past four years and the bridges I’ve built (or, for that matter, burned), I am excited for the opportunity to work in this capacity. I will coach because, in this spectacular profession of teaching, I believe:
We are in this together.
We deserve to feel happiness in our hard work.
We can each make a difference.
Pray for me as I embark with my colleagues on this coaching journey.