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On Monday 19 September, Wenona held its first CoachMeet. A CoachMeet is based on the well-established model of a TeachMeet. These are meetings or ‘unconferences’ where teachers network, share effective practices, ideas and insights into teaching via a series of short, sharp presentations. It is professional learning by teachers for teachers, where the cost is only your time.
This CoachMeet provided the opportunity for educational coaches or those interested in coaching to connect and share practices, experiences and resources. With coaching gaining continued momentum in education, we thought it would be good to connect, learn from each other and build our educational coaching network. In the coaching world, there is no competition between schools or sectors, as we all want to learn and develop the teaching-coaching community.
Coaching is not about telling teachers they need to improve or how to improve. Instead, it is the process of having one-to-one conversation that focus on developing the educator’s learning through increasing self-awareness. A coach, through questioning, actively listening and challenging the coachee in a supportive and encouraging environment, facilitates self-directed learning of the teacher (van Nieuwerburgh, 2012).
For me, coaching is a belief and faith in another’s ability and capacity for growth. I view coaching as a process that provides autonomy, relatedness and competence. At the CoachMeet, we shared our practices that ignited conversations about how to initiate or sustain the practice of coaching in our schools. We shared how to implement coaching to support student learning and how to promote a coaching culture.
At the CoachMeet, Dr Briony Scott opened, sharing her thoughts on the benefits of coaching in education. Len Nixon (Barker College) spoke about the benefits of supporting and coaching early careers teachers and a presentation created by Jim Knight (USA, Instructional Coaching) represented his theories and new book, ‘The Impact Cycle’.
Cameron Paterson (Shore) spoke about ‘Protocols for Professional Conversations’, which require three essential qualities: clarity, safety and equity. Brett Kriedemann also reflected on the past four years of coaching at Shore. Chris Munro (St Kevin’s College and Growth Coaching International (GCI) coach) skyped in from Melbourne to share his experience of creating and sustaining a coaching culture. One of Michael Bungay-Stanier’s (Canada) most effective strategies is to ask the coachee: “and what else?” It was great to see an Australian in Toronto sharing his knowledge of coaching for others to learn.
Penni Maher from St Andrew’s Cathedral School discussed how coaching conversations with students were utilised to plan learning interventions. Listening to Stephanie, an early career teacher and Leonie, a principal, share their experience of the coach-coachee relationship demonstrated how coaching can decrease the hierarchical nature of schools, build relationships and create a collaborative coaching culture.
Dr Rachel Lofthouse, an educator and researcher interested in coaching, mentoring and practice development skyped in from the UK. She noted that Australia is a “teacher-coaching hotspot”. Nikki Bowden (St Andrew’s Cathedral School) spoke about using the ‘success criteria’ to leverage staff professional development into coaching goals. US-based Peter DeWitt, a colleague of instructional coach Jim Knight and Visible Learning educator John Hattie, shared some positives and negatives to be aware of when implementing coaching programs.
After speaking about the history of her school’s coaching program (Wesley College, WA) Dr Deb Netolicky explained her knowledge and experience of Cognitive Coaching. Cognitive Coaching was co-developed by Art Costa and Robert Garmston. They define it as "a set of strategies, a way of thinking and a way of working that invites self and others to shape and reshape their thinking and problem solving capacity." (www.thinkingcollaborative.com). Dr Brad Merrick (Barker College) talked about asking the right questions to build capacity and promote autonomy. He suggested asking questions such as, what do you specifically need to do to improve in that area and what type of strategies can you possibly employ to make that a reality.
We finished the #CoachMeet with a Q&A panel with Microsoft Mentor trained Simon Harper, GCI trained Len Nixon and Jacqui McLachlan before finishing up with dinner or a CoachEat. It was a wonderful time of learning, networking and connecting with other coaches and educators from all around the globe.
van Nieuwerburgh, C. (Ed.) (2012). Coaching in education: Getting better results for students, educators and parents. London: Karnac.