“The term coach comes from a French word meaning, ‘to transport important people from one place to another.’…A modern interpretation would refer to a person being moved to a higher level of competence, confidence, performance or insight. Coaching is… about supporting people and organizations through change, helping them get from one place to another in their professional and personallives.” ~Karla Reiss, Leadership Coaching for Educators (2007)
CASDA faculty with rich experience as teachers, principals, assistant superintendents and superintendents, continue to support new and veteran school leaders through coaching. CASDA has a long history in providing coaching training and support for literacy coaches, instructional coaches, data coaches and teacher leaders. Last year CASDA faculty partnered with Capital Region BOCES, Herkimer BOCES, Hamilton/Fulton/Montgomery BOCES and Washington/Saratoga/Warren/Hamilton/Essex BOCES and schools through the STLE grant program. This year there are projects with Voorheesville Central School District and Albany City School District. These Leadership Coaching projects may offer one-on-one conversations and meetings, goal setting, planning and problem-solving. CASDA also offers a comprehensive program to develop a district’s theory of action through SMART goals and action planning.
Much of the CASDA philosophy on an approach to coaching comes from the work of Jim Knight from the University of Kansas. Knight writes, “The way we interact with others makes or breaks most coaching relationships.” What good coaches do,” Educational Leadership, 69, 18-22. He advocates a partnership approach built on equality, choice, voice, reflection, dialogue, praxis and reciprocity. For CASDA faculty, the coach-coachee relationship is a partnership that is a positive and productive experience based on trust. CASDA has established Leadership Coaching Guidelines to support all the administrators who have agreed to participate in this project.
CASDA Leadership Coaching Guidelines
Conversations between coaches and administrators are confidential. CASDA coaches do not report back to the superintendent or other supervisors.
Coaching sessions are unique opportunities for administrators to benefit from having a colleague with different experiences and perspectives with whom to share successes, obstacles, challenges and hopes. Coaching sessions are beneficial if communication is open, honest and respectful.
Coaching sessions are not “gripe sessions”. Coaches keep the conversation centered on leadership. Topics for discussion are typically determined by the administrator based, current needs. Sessions offer an opportunity to discuss professional and operational issues. Focus on ways to further develop building relationships, instructional leadership, school management and climate.
Administrators identify their specific leadership goals for these coaching sessions. These may be district goals or school goals or personal goals. Administrators may also have goals emerging from evaluations done by the superintendent. The topics should address the current reality - what are the administrator’s school or personal goals for this year? How is their action plan progressing? These topics guide the conversations.
Coaches collaboratively set a time of approximately one hour for each coaching session. CASDA coaches prefer to sit at a table together with the coachee rather than work across a desk. Coaches ask coachees to turn off electronic devices and sit away from the computer. On-site visitations are ideal, but telephone, skype or email sessions are also possible.
Coaches ask questions to which they may not know the answers - and listen for answers. What is the administrator’s perspective? It is important to listen with respect and an intent to understand. When coaches give meaningful feedback and urge the administrator to come up with his or her own solutions. Coaches refocus the administrator on their goal(s).
Coaches thank coachees at the end of a session and set goals for the next session.
Coaching is not a tool for “fixing” people; it is a powerful professional development process. For information on CASDA coaching services for your school leaders, please contact Terry Brewer at CASDA, firstname.lastname@example.org. or (518) 512-5198.