Exploring Coaching Cultures and Asking the “Right” Questions

I haven’t blogged yet.  As a first-year coach, I feel embarrassed about this.  But somehow this year has had a pace all it’s own, and as often as I think “that would be a great blog”, I still haven’t managed to come up for air and hit post!

It’s rainy today, and Mother Nature has made it an awesome, guilt-free, get your inside stuff done, kind of day.   it’s been a lot of Spotify, snacks and my laptop. The last song I listened to was “Closer to Fine”, Indigo Girls circa 1989, (yes, I’m showing my age here, but at least the 90’s fashion is back in style!) Between hockey practice (x3), walking our new pup in the rain, picking up costumes for an upcoming production of Matilda and writing what seems like endless report card comments, I have been thinking about where I’m at in the Cohort process and feel the urge to weigh-in. 

This year I am focusing on teacher wellness.  I posed the question, “How might we structure PD time to reach individual goals, team goals, and school-wide innovation that is supported by coaching, mentoring & design thinking with a bias towards action?”. At the second F2F I heard about how this model is working at other CIS schools.  I had an insightful conversation with @nblair and was overwhelmed by her generosity in sharing the plan and template she has implemented at Rosedale Day School. 

After the conference, I wrote a proposal for my admin asking for permission to pursue learning about the coaching model and how it may affect a change in the way PD is approached at our own school, with the hopes of promoting teacher wellness and empowerment.  I want to engage in learning with my colleagues and peers about project-based, action research, similar to the amazing Cohort21 model created by @jmedved @gnichols, and see if there is a place for this at my school. It would be wonderful to foster innovation and design thinking across our grades.  Cohort21 its framework and positive community give each of us the opportunity to say “yes”, to becoming problem-solvers and using our questions to make a change in each of our schools.

Earlier this year I was lucky enough to participate in Coaching Training through CIS Ontario at Ridley College School, and the vision of Cohort21 Alum @ddesvignes @ddoucet & @acaplan. It was amazing to be there to experience first hand an Action Plan, actually in action.  I was grateful for the inspiring, informative and eye-opening insight that day regarding the wave of “Coaching” that is happening in CIS Ontario schools. =

This day opened up a wealth of resources one of which is Change Your Questions, Change Your Life, by Marliee Adams. (I highly recommend this read) Not to mention a series of Coaching Conversations for the 2019-20 school year with fellow CIS Ontario educators lead by Heather Clayton Consulting.

This week’s Coaching Conversation Session focused on values and how when we ask powerful questions, we have the ability to unlock the truth that can be hidden and find our true potential. When we find the answers to our questions we can clarify our values and how our awareness of these values will help us frame our intention and impact.  Heather has given us the opportunity to be reflective of how time spent understanding ourselves is one of the most powerful and empowering acts that we can do to help us “show-up” in the world and find alignment in our lives. 

So, back to Indigo Girls, the trigger for this post. I spent endless hours listening to this song earlier in my life.  Now I listen with new ears, and what is old is new again. So many questions about the next steps remain, but I’m enjoying the journey and starting the year so grateful for another lap around the sun, and more of an opportunity to learn, grow and find some answers. 

I’m looking forward to seeing everyone at the next F2F. 

Also, I want to send a big thanks and shout-out to @gvogt facilitator extraordinaire, whose advice always helps to clarify and inspire! 

If you’ve made it this far, thanks for reading, and if you’ve got time on this rainy day, feel free to have a listen. 

Indigo Girls – Closer to Fine – YouTube

https://www.youtube.comwatch?v=HUgwM1Ky228 

Lyrics

I’m tryin’ to tell you somethin’ ’bout my life

Maybe give me insight between black and white

And the best thing you’ve ever done for me

Is to help me take my life less seriously

It’s only life after all, yeah

Well darkness has a hunger that’s insatiable

And lightness has a call that’s hard to hear

I wrap my fear around me like a blanket

I sailed my ship of safety ’til I sank it

I’m crawling on your shores

And I went to the doctor, I went to the mountains

I looked to the children, I drank from the fountains

There’s more than one answer to these questions

Pointing me in a crooked line

And the less I seek my source for some definitive

The closer I am to fine, yeah

The closer I am to fine, yeah

And I went to see the doctor of philosophy

With a poster of Rasputin and a beard down to his knee

He never did marry or see a B-Grade movie

He graded my performance, he said he could see through me

I spent four years prostrate to the higher mind

Got my paper and I was free

I went to the doctor, I went to the mountains

I looked to the children, I drank from the fountains

There’s more than one answer to these questions

Pointing me in a crooked line

And the less I seek my source for some definitive

The closer I am to fine, yeah

The closer I am to fine, yeah

I stopped by the bar at three A.M.

To seek solace in a bottle, or possibly a friend

And I woke up with a headache like my head against a board

Twice as cloudy as I’d been the night before

And I went in seeking clarity

I went to the doctor, I went to the mountains

I looked to the children, I drank from the fountains

We go to the doctor, we go to the mountains

We look to the children, we drink from the fountain

Yeah, we go to the Bible, we go through the workout

We read up on revival, we stand up for the lookout

There’s more than one answer to these questions

Pointing me in a crooked line

And the less I seek my source for some definitive

The closer I am to fine

The closer I am to fine

The closer I am to fine, yeah

Source: LyricFind

Songwriters: Amy Elizabeth Ray / Emily Ann Saliers

 

Closer to Fine lyrics © Universal Music Publishing Group

 

 

4 thoughts on “Exploring Coaching Cultures and Asking the “Right” Questions

  1. Yes @swelbourn! I’m so glad to have stumbled into this inspired, excited post! Your desire for meaningful action in your school is infectious, and your approach seems entirely thorough and thoughtful. This is a tricky bit of business isn’t it? A school must be clear on goals and direction, but in a way that empowers teachers and rewards autonomy. A culture of endless gratitude, celebration and invitation is essential, and I think you are all of those things. Within an extremely busy life, teachers must somehow be inspired to that deep inward look, taking action on their practice in a way that inspires others. I think this describes a culture in which the coaching model you describe would be perfectly situated. I’m excited to follow this Sam! Keep us posted on how you progress, leading the Cohort model in your school.

    When I lived in Ecuador, we ran an Open Mic each month at a local dive. ‘Closer to Fine’ was a staple of my good friends Tasha and Jess. Beautiful harmonies, beautiful song. Thanks for taking me back!

    @lmustard
    @jgravel

  2. @swelbourn

    I’m pleased to hear that someone is exploring coaching for their action plan. In my first year at a CAIS school, I received coaching and immediately saw the benefits. The next year, this opportunity was not an option, but, fortunately, I’ve since been able to receive coaching again. Student mental health has been a big area of focus over the past few years, and I think teacher mental health should be too. I’d be interested to hear about you’re approach and what you’re finding!

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