Cutting through the edu-jargon: What does it mean to be a ‘coach’? 5 attributes of great coaches

Just like the term ‘facilitator’, the ‘coach’ is often used to describe the role of the educator and leader. When used, heads nod in agreement, and then what? Do we assume that we either know what it means, or are actually doing it?  ‘The Coach’ is quite a defined role and it is worth looking at the attributes of great coaching to see how they can apply to the education sector.

I came across a post on the Melbourne Sports Institute website: “Defining and Explaining Great Coaching”. The original study by Andrea Becker in International Journal of Sports Science & Coaching broke down more than 60 attributes that emerged from athlete questionnaires of great coaching. In education, either as a leader or teacher, successful coaching provides an effective approach to developing skills, establishing culture and creating an encouraging and goal-focused learning environment.

For each area below analyse yourself as an effective coach.

1. Personal attributes of the coach

As with any leadership role, the internal qualities of the leader are what shines the loudest. In sport, great coaches display certain attributes. They have a passion for the game and are experts, always learning, always updating their knowledge. It is crucial that coaches see potential in the people they lead.

Introspectively, great coaches are real people who make mistakes and admit mistakes. They are emotionally stable, genuine, loyal and honest. Character matters and modelling behaviours such as commitment, discipline and being organised.

Coach’s Checklist:

  • Passionate about what makes a great teacher or leader
  • Ongoing learning and development
  • See potential and growth in others
  • Admit mistakes
  • Emotionally stable
  • Real and genuine
  • Consistently model desired behaviours

2. Culture of the learning environment

In sport, the coach creates an athlete-centred environment, focusing on individual growth is essential to the success of the team. This then leads to a team-centred approach, collectively creating the culture of achieving what is best collectively. Coaches are accessible, approachable and good listeners, creating an atmosphere for the athlete to flourish. The practice environment is well-planned, highly structured and game-like, it replicates the authentic purpose.

Coach’s Checklist:

  • Ensure a learner or team centred environment
  • Clear about the desired culture for success
  • Accessible
  • Good listener
  • Well-planned and executed coaching structure
  • Authentic outputs for the team/individual

3. Coaching relationships

The relationship with the team or individual extends beyond achieving the task itself. The quality of the relationship matters.

The personal attributes of the coach are the grounding for creating the relationships that underpin the success of the athlete. These relationships are both professional and personal, strong and lasting. They are built on a foundation of trust, confidence and respect. The coach takes responsibility for the team or individual performance when things go bad.

Athletes are provided care and respect and they know that the coach believes in them. Players are empowered because they are included in the decision-making.

Coach’s Checklist:

  • Believe the best for the team
  • Put relationship first
  • Trustworthy
  • Respectful
  • Caring
  • Humility
  • Empowering of the team/individual

4. Behaviours of a great coach

These behaviours extend beyond the particular focus of the players and extends to life skills. Coaches help players achieve high expectations and these qualities are very consistent with great teaching, using a variety of instructional methods and pacing the coaching according to learner need

High level coaches prepare meticulously, they are focussed on the details. Coaching is not random. Great coaches create great systems. They also own the systems and believe they are essential for success.

Most importantly is the impact of effective communication. Great coaches remain confident, calm and emotionally stable under pressure. Communication needs to be clear, consistent and honest. It is well-timed, motivating and positive.

Coach’s Checklist:

  • Whole person focus, not just task completion
  • Teach identified and essential skills
  • Vary instruction methods
  • Prepare. Prepare. Prepare.
  • Implement a system for coaching
  • Effective communicator
  • Stable under pressure

The role of coach in both professional development and student learning is a broad and encompassing role. After reading this, I have come to the conclusion that it is also an essential role in any workplace or school. There are, however, a discrete set of skills to enable the team or individual success. It is easy to say “the teacher’s role is now more like a coach” and leave it there, how often have you heard that?

What if we committed to a coaching culture? This means at a school staff level, coaching becomes a significant approach to professional development, that is then embedded in the school culture and becomes a model for student learning.

@anneknock

 

Let’s change the way teachers learn, so we can change the way teachers teach #mim14

We’ve just concluded our fifth Making it Mobile workshop, held at Northern Beaches Christian School. Excited and passionate educators arrived from Queensland, Victoria, ACT, UK, NZ  and Sydney.

At Making it Mobile we present a professional learning experience that gives meaningful and helpful input as well as providing teams with the time and the space to play with the ideas and create something they can implement with their students in the following week. The  professional learning is presented in a physical learning environment that recreates the open spaces at NBCS. IMG_1214

The workshop is held over two days. The first day has input from our SCIL team. A keynote from Stephen Harris sets the scene for rethinking the paradigm of school, then we commence the rolling workshops, practical, hand-on input to get started or perhaps grow as practitioners. IMG_1228

Our workshops are led by teachers who have been using these ideas and practices with their own students. We want participants to be able to implement new approaches to learning, that are collaborative and engaging no matter where they are. There is a process to the workshops across the first day:

101: Blooms Gardners Matrix – how engage students and provide choice with minimum resources and low tech

201: Personalise Learning – how can you use technology/apps to create exciting learning opportunitiesIMG_1230

301: Project-Based Learning – getting started in with PBL

All the while, participants are reminded of the theme for the following day:

What will you build?

The next day teacher-teams have the time and space to play with their ideas, a very rare luxury. The participants get to work, with the NBCS team who are on hand to provide on-the-shoulder help. As I walk around I am reminded of the phrase, “learning is hard fun”, eavesdropping on deep conversations about learning.



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The day concludes with each team providing a quick visual summary of their learning, then participating in a gallery walk as ideas are shared and critiqued.

As I spoke to one of the excited participants, she passionately described what she had learnt and the ideas she will implement into her teaching and learning program on Monday.

It is very satisfying to see educators work through the process of anticipation, excitement, struggling with idea, engaging in deep conversations and emerging with real and tangible ideas.

@anneknock

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Starting the year at NBCS: Putting the F.U.N in PD to build a positive culture of collaboration and connection.

We all knew it was coming.  It's a building site

At the end of 2013, as the school year was finishing, the construction (and demolition) crews were coming into NBCS. Project Barcelona, the much awaited development of transforming the physical space of ‘school’ into a whole new model was underway. The brief that principal Stephen Harris gave to the architect was to create a new heart of the school that provided a space for learning, connection and social interaction.

When the staff returned a week before the school year started they would see the
Barcelona Airport
significant disruption that Project Barcelona would potentially bring to their routines, the construction site is of significant proportions in the middle of the school campus:

Project Barcelona will define the heart and spine of the school campus and lead the way in new innovative learning. (WMK, Architect)

The inspiration came from Barcelona Airport, with its large canopy overarching the activity within. 

Under these conditions it is essential that staff commence the year with a positive frame of mind and then model and reinforce this to their students. It was going to be a challenging year and a half, but the outcome will be worth it.

What are the challenges facing the school’s community?

  • The hoarding erected around the perimeter of the site creates an inner ring of corridors, interspersed with viewing windows.

  • There are only two ways to get around from one side of the school to the other… the long way or the long way.

  • Perceived loss of gathering spaces (and toilets) for students

  • Significant rooming changes due to demolished buildings

  • The knowledge that this project won’t be completed until the second half of 2015

  • Noise, trucks, workers, dust.

This is not a scenario for the faint-hearted! It was important to be clear of the outcomes of the beginning of year staff PD Days:

  • Set a positive attitude for the year ahead

  • Staff to model this positive/can do approach to students

  • Staff are still able teach innovatively and collaboratively

  • Build the culture that we are all in this together

Stephen Harris devised a series of collaborative activities that would build community, get people working together, know their way around the school, make a contribution to enhancing the physical environment, tackle the pressing issues and, most importantly, have fun.

Each year at NBCS the week before school commences has a series of first gatherings

Day 1: Senior Leadership Team (SLT)

Day 2: Senior Leadership Team and School Executive Team (SET) – Learning Leaders and Stage/Grade Leaders

Day 3: All staff together.

This process began with the SLT. Stephen led the tour around the school, making note of toilet changes, learning space changes and the impact that these will have on the leadership of the school. And then the fun began.

The day before, he had created the first mural to brighten up the hoarding. It was an outline of himself. Then the SLT were placed in groups to devise a pitch that would build on this lonely figure to create something fun. Each group were to pitch their idea, Dragons Den style to the others. When the project was selected the SLT become the project team to make it a reality. This activity set the tone for creating a mural along the hoarding, but also put the SLT together within a collaborative project, working together on assigned roles and owning the outcome.

SLT Collaborative Project

The finished artwork

When SET arrived the next day the culture of fun and collaboration was underway. This larger group, together with SLT, about 40 people was set a different challenge for collaboration. Stephen presented a moderate budgetary allowance, to fund a way to encourage staff and build morale. Using the Dragon’s Den method of pitching an idea, combined with the Athenian method of casting votes with broken pieces of a clay pot, each group set to work. The composition of the groups were random, an important element of building community across the school. The winning group’s idea was selected after the old pots were smashed and each of us voted using a piece of clay.

On the third day of the series, the fun really began. Within a 90 minute time frame mixed groups of primary, secondary, admin and SLT were presented with the challenge:

Choose at least 3 of these activities and complete within 1.5 hour timeframe

Physical challenge: determine the fastest way your team can go on a lap of the short stay car park. Timed as a relay circuit. I'm pretty good at riding that chair

Art challenge: comedic / fun interpretation of some aspect of school life on a construction panel

Artists at work

Lego challenge: create a representation of a building at NBCS

Working with Lego

Photo challenge: photograph your team in an outrageous location or activity on site

The photo challenge

Film challenge: create a 60 second video advertising any aspect of the NBCS site as a holiday destination. Watch Steve Collis’ NBCS Caving Adventure on YouTube

The creativity that came out of the activity was amazing. The fun laughter and energy around the school was contagious, as people gathered art materials, film props, snuck into construction vehicles for photos and raced around the carpark. Along the way people learn new skills from their colleagues.

The initial outcomes were definitely achieved, but the greatest outcome was an incredible sense of community and connection amongst the staff. The newest teachers immediately felt like part of the community and we all had new and shared experiences that we could laugh about. In addition to these, there were team-based activities directly related to the work for the year.

Once the students arrived there was an atmosphere of excitement for what lay ahead.

How did the staff at your school year start?

How are you reinforcing your culture of community and collaboration?

@anneknock

Champion educators: There’s a place for boulders, but who are the new pebbles on the beach? #rethinkingPD


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I enjoy my Twitter community. I personalise my use to my interest, seeking out fresh voices of education, practitioners and leaders who are in the day-to-day business of great learning and leading. We all know the big names  – but who are the day-to-day expert voices, the real thought-leaders who are working with kids and leading great schools, making a difference in the lives of young people.

In his book We Think social commentator, Charles Leadbeater uses the metaphor of the beach, (obviously it’s an English beach, there aren’t any pebbles on an Australian seashore).

The scene would have resembled a large, sandy beach, with crowds organised around a few very large boulders. These boulders are the big media companies.

These boulders came into being because media had high fixed costs – print plants for newspapers and studios for television… Rolling a new boulder onto the beach took lots of people, money and machinery…

Now imagine the scene on the same beach in five years time. A few very big boulders are still showing, but many have been drowned by a rising tide of pebbles. As you stand surveying the beach every minute hundreds of thousands of people come to drop their pebbles. Some of the pebbles they drop are very small; a blog post or a comment on YouTube. Others are larger such as a video… A bewildering array of pebbles in different sizes, shapes and colours are being laid down the whole time, in no particular order, as people feel like it.

Pebbles are the new business. The new kinds of organisations  being bred by the web are all in the pebble business… Oddly some of the tiniest pebbles seem more powerful than the biggest boulders… the dynamic growing business is with the pebbles.

Attending the big headline events is more about the edu-rock star boulder-experience. It is inspiring to be in the same room with SKR speaking live on a screen from the middle of the night in the US or other international edu-celebrities. It still reinforces the one-to-many experience of learning and the sense of the big picture community is fun and exciting. But does this experience change practice?

There is so much to learn from the great practitioners, but who are they and where is their platform for influence.

Join with me to pick up the pebbles on the beach. Let’s find the great inspiring and humble practitioner and give them a voice. These are the true champions.

Who is your champion educator who should have a voice to a larger audience? Tweet me.

@anneknock

Making it Mobile… goes mobile again. Thanks Adelaide #mim13

As I sit on a sofa in the open learning area at Concordia College in Adelaide, around me are educators ‘playing’ – working on projects, developing ideas for their students and learning new tech tricks. Great learning is ‘hard fun’.

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The premise of professional learning underpinning Making It Mobile is to provide a context for self-directed, passionate engagement and deep-thinking, in a way that doesn’t look like the usual teacher PD.

MiM2‘Embrace the Paradigm’ was the title of Stephen Harris’ opening keynote – that’s not ‘would you like to’ or ‘perhaps you should’ but you must. The world has changed dramatically and the paradigms are shifting, Kodak, Borders and Blockbuster didn’t keep up and didn’t reinvent and now they are obsolete. Education will always exist, but what if it becomes culturally obsolete? There is practically nothing worse than tick-a-box education.

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Working with the team Making it Mobile team – Steve Collis, Lou Deibe, Mark Burgess and Stephen Harris – we set up the space and asked the question…

‘How do we create the professional learning environment that looks and feels like The Zone* at NBCS?”

(*The opening learning space at NBCS in Grades 5 and 6 for 180 students and 6 teachers who call the space their learning ‘home’)

The professional learning space needed to provide:

  • flexibility

  • choice

  • personalised learning

  • collaboration

  • cave, watering hole and campfire spaces

Making it Mobile messes with educators’ heads. It has content to absorb, along with teacher-talk from experts and thought leaders, but there is also freedom, choice and trust. PD that looks and feels like the way students need to learn is an essential element of the experience. These two days  provide the luxury of time to listen, process, absorb and think.

Just when do educators have the luxury to learn and then think?

Next stop Newcastle and then Auckland in November 2013. And in 2014?

Who knows where we might end up.

@anneknock

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“I’ve been endorsed for what?” LinkedIn endorsements aren’t as good as personal connections

Each time I log on to LinkedIn I find that another person has kindly (thank you) endorsed me. Sometimes I know the endorsee, at other times, I don’t.

On the LinkedIn Blog last year the opportunity to endorse was announced:

Give kudos with just one click: On LinkedIn, you have many smart, talented, and skilled professional connections. Starting today, we are introducing Endorsements, a new feature that makes it easier to recognize them for their skills and expertise.

So for the purposes of Research, just so I can verify at least one of my endorsements, I have kindly accepted all the endorsements (thanks, again) to see the scope of what people think I can actually do.

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I’m happy with Change Management being the most endorsed skill (Did I say thanks?) as that is probably one of the most common themes in my communication, along with Leadership. From there, Staff Development and Educational Leadership also fit, as I want to see people grow and encourage change in schools.

Some of the others, Volunteer Recruiting, Coaching, Leadership Development also reflect elements of my passion. But I wouldn’t really say that Moodle is a particular skill or expertise I possess (ask my colleagues), nor is Curriculum Design. And Research? This is about as deep I get into it.

So I need to let you know, dear reader, I don’t think much of the LinkedIn endorsements. I do appreciate that people, some I’ve never worked with or met, would like to endorse me, however, I just need to let you know that I won’t be endorsing you back.

Basically, I think that this is just one, in a long line of marketing ideas, that LinkedIn will introduce to keep us interested. If I do endorse you, I will do it personally.

But, hey, thanks for thinking of me .

What’s your strategy to keep Gen Ys engaged and interested in teaching for the long haul*? (You may have to lead them differently)

(*about five years seems to be the long haul for these guys)

Recruiting, training and retaining young teachers is a challenge. Gen Y have a high work turnover rate, so instead of rolling our collective Baby Boomer/Gen X eyes, maybe we should be considering how we keep them. We need them to stay. Our kids need great teachers.

In case you are wondering Gen Ys were born from 1980  to 1994. The oldest one are turning 33 this year and the youngest are 19. These are our current generation of new (ish) teachers. This is what research tells us

Generation Y are the most materially endowed generation ever. Currently aged 18-32, They are very tech savvy- bringing social media and productivity skills to the workplace.

The global generation- culturally diverse, mobile careers, travellers and globally aware. Gen Y aren’t just a product of their times, they’re also a product of their life stage.

They will work longer than previous generations with the retirement age and pension age pushed back. They will average more than 4 careers and 17 employers in their lifetime.

Forget the training manual or the staff meeting- enter the company vodcasts, instant messaging, and even content-laden music.

We will see an increasing trend towards people unplugging, and hotdesking: the era of activity based working. So the rise of ping-pong tables, well-equipped lunch (and breakfast) rooms, mini-nap spaces, time-out rooms, and outdoor gardens and green spaces.

Having managed to complete their pre-service education is one step toward their new career. A newly-minted education graduate wrote in an opinion piece recently:

After dragging myself to the finishing line, I have finally completed my diploma in education at a university in Sydney. I shudder in horror on behalf of the unwitting students who will follow in my footsteps, since in many Australian universities single-year diplomas in education are being phased out in preference for two-year master’s degrees. Or 24-month agonies, as I prefer to term them.

One of my friends, with a tutor who presumably has missed the last decade, was asked to present a slide presentation in which each slide had to have a different background colour, different fonts and a working hyperlink. Oh my. I shall put my typewriter away.

Not only does the pre-service education we provide need a good shaking, but also how we present teaching as a career worth investing in, once they have graduated.

According to McCrindle Research there are five key factors in recruiting and retaining Gen Y

1. Work/life balance

2. Workplace culture

3. Varied job role

4. Management style

5. Training

In summary – They don’t want to be workaholics, they want to belong and not have the same-old-day-in-day-out, they are seeking relationship and community from their supervisor and you’ll keep them longer if you challenge with new learning opportunities.

So, what do you need to think about in your school that will encourage teachers with great potential, the right attitude and aptitude to stay?

Clarity in standards and expectations – If work/life balance is important, then we can’t make assumptions about standards. Clearly state expectations.

Pay attention to culture –  There is a desire to belong. Be a thermostat, not a thermometer. Set the right culture for community and do what needs to be done to maintain the right temperature.

Provide opportunities – Find ways of throwing the curve ball, a new opportunity that can interest and excite from time to time.

Lead relationally  – Leaders are more effective in the context of positive relationship than an authoritarian style. It’s actually more enjoyable for everyone.

Keep sharpening the saw - “90% of Generation Y’s who receive regular training from their employer are motivated to stay with their employer”. Provide new ways to address their professional learning needs.

Those of us of earlier generations can bemoan the changing motivators of younger professionals, or we can appreciate them for what they bring.  Of course there are things that they need to learn and change, but so did we, once upon a time.

@anneknock