Many months ago, I saw a Facebook post by Powerful Learning Practice about becoming a “Connected Coach.” This is an opportunity to work virtually with Year 1 PLP teams as they wrap up the year by supporting their efforts to create an action research project for their schools. I remembered my experience the previous year with PLP, and wondered if I could possibly be of help to others. I completed the application, but honestly doubted I would hear anything. I was not any kind of an expert in action research, and PLP probably wanted someone who had completed more than the Year 1 experience to help guide these teams. I wasn’t surprised when months went by and I didn’t hear anything.
Then suddenly, in late January, an email appeared, asking if I was still interested in this opportunity! Although my schedule should have led me to decline, I was honored to be considered, and was very interested in learning about connected coaching. Our e-course began the next week, and before I knew it, I was up to my eyeballs in new terminology like “appreciative inquiry,” “wayfinding,” and even “wonderings.” What on earth was a wondering?!? I was looking at models, protocols, and thinking I was definitely in over my head…
Before I knew it, I had “met” my lead coach, Gene, and had the list of the nine teams we were to support. Nine?!? For some reason I thought three… maybe four? I couldn’t imagine keeping straight the names of people on nine different teams, and their conversations on the PLP Community Hub in addition to completing the online activities for the e-course!
The more we talked about the qualities of a connected coach in our e-course webinars, the more I wondered why PLP thought I would make a good connected coach. I’m talkative, loud, opinionated, and a “jump in with both feet” kind of person. On a good day, I remember to make sure there’s water in the pool! Connected coaching was all about starting slowly, developing trust, listening, asking questions (mostly in the form of “wonderings”), reflecting, and patiently working with teams. Hmmm…
Fortunately, this was modeled beautifully for me from day one by our fearless leader Lani and my lead coach Gene. This was invaluable, as we were thrust right into our jobs and began posting our introductory videos on our teams’ sites immediately. We began to exchange hellos, talk about ourselves personally, and then eventually discuss some details about project ideas. I found myself remembering what I had heard and seen Lani do in our activities for the course, and without thinking, actually started a reply post with, “I’m wondering if…” It felt good! I also started seeing the benefits of using this questioning technique with my students. Suddenly, the challenge to help a team discover their own answers was so exciting!
At the same time, we were practicing trust building activities, co-creating content, and using video and images to connect with our community of coaches in the e-course. I was amazed at how quickly our diverse group bonded, encouraging and supporting each other through challenges and victories! Our weekly webinars are inspirational. There’s something about spending time learning with and from such a committed group of professionals that is a real “high” for us. It revitalizes us and gives us ideas and a fresh perspective to carry into our coaching.
I’m pleased with our progress thus far. I recently attended a webinar for the community, where I listened to our teams present their action research ideas. Since then I’ve helped them to focus their essential questions and wondered aloud how they would plan different aspects of their research and project.
As I reflect, I’m wondering if becoming a good coach will also help me become a better teacher, a better parent, a better friend… 🙂