Give a man a fish and he will eat for a day.
Teach a man how to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.
Find the Why
Every coach I have talked with has someone they feel needs to be told what to do. No matter the approach taken, this person doesn’t see the change that is needed. Working with them is the proverbial “beating the dead horse.”
For example, a teacher’s classroom is unruly and bordering on unsafe. The word around the school reflects concern at every turn. The instructional coach is called in and asked to fix it. Literally, you are told to fix it (a clear indication someone doesn’t understand how coaching works).
You try all methods of approach from the theories. Nothing is working. What is the holdup?
All too often, we have not been curious enough. And this is a barrier on the coach’s end that often isn’t given space. As Michale Bungay Stanier states in his book The Coaching Habit: “You need to be more curious.”
And it really is that: Giving less advice and asking more questions.
If you engage in deep conversation with this teacher, you might find blame is placed anywhere possible except for themselves. This is a normal psychological state to be in. The issues at hand are ones of identity. There is no quick fix for that.
Take your psychology lens out to take a long and hard look. When someone is trying to survive and has lost their way, the presence of grief is likely hiding somewhere. This is much different than someone who just doesn’t care.
Know the Goal
In order to guide people, you need to stand with them in their experience. This doesn’t mean giving excuses for their experience but empathizing and moving to find solutions with them.
So first, determine the goal of your interaction with this teacher. This will help you determine what questioning style is best approach. If you don’t know this, you may fall into a trap of being a curriculum coach, a whack-a-mole problem solver can’t help make a real transformation.
The path towards the goal should be clear to both you and the coachee. The coachee should have a clear understanding of what they are going to experience, and the coach clearly knows how they will support and help reflect along the way.
Facilitate the Transition
Now it is time to facilitate a transformation. It isn’t easy. Don’t expect transformations to ever be easy.
This is not about facilitating a transformation by solving one or two problems. It is about someone changing how they think in order to see the problems in a new light. A transformation leads to proactive steps for the coachee.
If they were in a stage of grief unknowingly, they will now see it. You won’t feel the pressure to tell them what to do. They already know it. Now, they have the capacity to do something about it.
That is the role of a facilitator. You bring out the wisdom or knowledge that is already there. The new lens will prepare them for the journey they are now on.
An Instructional Coaching Program Created
Nothing is smooth in the world of an instructional coach. It takes a lot of determination, self-coaching, and humility. You will continually be communicating about what you do, why you do it, how you do it, and what people will experience working with you.
Throughout this series, we pointed out how to take actionable steps to build a program. All five steps are important. Remember: this is a journey. There is always going to be more to do.
If you find yourself with more questions, then you are having a common experience.
The purpose of these articles is to offer support. Our goal is to serve those that are in the same shoes we once wore.
You do not have to walk alone. Feel free to message Agile Ideas Leadership for any questions or thoughts at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Ross Herdina, Co-Founder, Agile Ideas Leadership