This week I talk to Reid Wilson, Year 5 Homeroom teacher at NIST International School in Bangkok, Thailand. Reid shares his experience as a classroom teacher working with a wide variety of coaches, both at NIST and in his previous schools. Reid shares his perspective on how coaches are experts at giving their teachers “permission for potential”, as well as specific feedback on what can make the coaching experience even more invaluable for teachers. For coaches wondering how best to work with the innovative and risk taking teachers on their staff, this conversation has a wealth of feedback and practical strategies!
What do you think coaches do?
To help people reach their maximum potential or capacity. To help you become your best self, not only as an educator, but as a colleague, thinker or reflector.
How do you work with the coaches at your school?
Teacher initiated: online booking, passing in the hall, or sending an email. Support teachers in reaching goals we set for ourselves as teachers. They have skilled ways of asking questions that challenge my assumptions and illicit some areas where I don’t know what I don’t know.
Work with us in planning meetings, listen and then step in with a question that makes us pause. Great at listening and synthesizing. On a personal level, they’re always people who give permission for potential. “What do you need from me?”
What are some good opportunities for coaches to work with you?
Before planning a unit coming with some ideas, and asking “are there any of these that might work for you”.
Knowing how far or how often to nudge. Approaching a coach is an act of humility, this is exposing a vulnerability.
What do you do when you don’t have the opportunity to work with a coach?
Struggle through something on my own. Benefit of having a coach is efficiency.
What are the essential elements for coaching success in a school? What’s needed to build a coaching culture?
Admin, related to staffing:
Such a powerful statement to bring in people to help us grow as a school. Permission to change, to try, to fail.
Teachers: open mindedness. Culture of vulnerability and trust. People need to feel like coaches are not evaluating and judging them. Drive: motivation from the individual that makes them want to change and become their best. Growth mindset.
Where do coaches / does coaching fail? And what can we do about it?
When coaching is so invitational, it’s can be hard for many people to be so vulnerable. To choose a challenge consciously and intentionally, to break down mental constructs.
You don’t know what you don’t know, so teachers might not even know enough to even ask questions. If the coaching model is only predicated on waiting / passive, it’s possible to slow down evolution in an educational sense.
Co-teaching is a good avenue to solve this problem. Recognizing when teachers need new tools or new ways of teaching to fill in what they don’t know.
What makes a coach invaluable to you?
Someone who balances the “I got your back, I’m here to support you” but also guides you, support with wisdom.
There’s a need for efficiency. Without getting actionable goals from a conversation, teachers might think it’s not worth my time.
What was your “aha” moment that shifted your perspective from not caring about coaching to being on board?
Would never want to work at a school without coaches. Collections of smaller “aha” moments, sometimes it’s hard to recognize them in the moment, only after looking back over time. It’s the gradual conversations, the subtle coaching that’s going on.
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