Coaching — PD to transform leaders

When we think of coaching, sporting metaphors often spring to mind. We think of players being ‘coached from the sidelines’. They are supported by someone who is pushing them to do their best, sharing tips and advice. Coaches often stay with players for years, forming strong relationships and helping them grow as professionals. They meet with them regularly to review progress, reflect, and wrestle with new challenges.

In education, we may not have to ‘step up to the plate’, compete in a match or stare down an opponent — but every day we are engaged in supporting colleagues and students to do their best. How do we ensure we are leading others in a way that is current, reflexive and modelling professional relationships?

Often, professional learning for school leaders can vary from one-off days with other leaders to in-depth post-graduate courses. But rarely, I would argue, does leadership-focused PD give you a sustained time to reflect deeply on your daily practice and make plans to evolve it before the next reflective conversation. Think how encouraging it would be to have the regular input of another educator who is focused on making you better at the job?

Most crucially, for school leaders, we also need to be able to model relational ways of learning that mimic what we would like to see for our wider staff. We need to engage in the act of self-reflection, review of evidence and goal-setting. To transform practice, we also need to be prepared to look deeply at our own biases and beliefs, and be open to shifting mindsets. This is what we would want for our staff and our learners. The approach, then, that is most likely to usher us towards deep, personal change in our practice comes in the form of coaching relationships — and it could be just the modern PD leaders are looking for…


This article was originally published in the ‘From the Deputy’s Desk’ column in LeadershipED NZ (Term 4 2018), published by EducationHQ. The opening of the article is published here with permission.

To read the rest, sign up to EducationHQ’s Hub; it’s free for schools. Direct link to the full article is here:

Image: ‘Coaching’ by Ian Sanderson CC BY-NC-ND

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