As a leader of a school district have you ever stressed? Wondered what decision to make? Maybe even felt a little insecure about being able to do the job or who to turn to and who to trust? Those are all common and natural issues that any school leader faces while running a school district. So who do you turn to in these situations? What about a leadership coach? Someone trained to help a leader grow.
Leadership coaching is a one-to-one conversation where a coach facilitates the self-directed learning of the coachee through questioning, active listening, goal setting and setting an appropriate challenge in a supportive, confidential and encouraging climate. The coach is a catalyst for change who uses a cadre of well-developed skills, strategies and tools to help people shift their perspectives and discover different approaches to achieving goals (Cox, Elaine 2013).
In Carol Dweck’s 2006 work Mindset, she and her colleagues identified two mindsets that most educators are familiar with: fixed and growth. In a fixed mindset, administrators will try to seem smart and skilled so people will see them as capable. In a growth mindset, administrators will believe that skills can be developed through dedication and hard work. A coach can step in and help an administrator grow as a leader.
The terms coaching and mentoring are often used interchangeably in educational discourse but are two distinctive practices. Mentoring is an advice-giving experience based traditionally on an expert-novice relationship. It is less formal than a coaching relationship. Mentoring is often the form of evaluation and default support administrators receive while on the job. While mentoring has its place, it is limited in its ability to create agency in administrators. A coach, however, helps an administrator set goals, build capacity, reflect, challenge existing beliefs and biases and learn new skills.
In the September 2019 issue of School Administrator, the American Association of School Administrators (AASA), put executive coaching or leadership coaching on the cover. Matthew B. Taylor discussed in his article "Untapped Potential" how coaching allows leaders to grow in their emotional intelligence, specifically in the areas of self-awareness, self-management, social awareness and relationship management. These are all areas important for a leader to grow in if they want to effectively lead a district or building. In 2016, Peter DeWitt wrote an article for Education Week, in which he asked if we see the value of having instructional coaches for teachers, why do we not see the value in coaching leaders? The article was so popular that it led DeWitt to later write another article in the same publication: Can Leadership Coaching Help Leaders Focus on What Matters? He said “So many leaders Tweeted, e-mailed and found me on Facebook to say that they would love to be coached, but it wasn’t always an opportunity that they were given.”
Is leadership coaching something you would like to try? Would you like a thought partner to help you work through decisions and next steps, and would you like to grow in areas in which you need help? Then maybe a leadership coach is right for you.
I would love the opportunity to help you in this endeavor. Feel free to reach out to me, and we can explore if having a leadership coach is right for you.
A collection of Oklahoma education-related news of the week.
The school year is over, summer break has begun and teachers all over are getting a well-deserved break. I hope that you get the rest and relaxation you need to recharge your batteries! If there’s one thing I’ve learned in education, however, it’s that teachers don't really take summer off.
I know June can be crazy as you close out your year, but I hope you’ve found time here and there to relax and get some rest. We’ve got some great things happening here at the OPSRC, and we’re looking forward to working with you this next school year.