Coaching can initially be an intimidating process. It calls for our vulnerability and trust. We are invited to openly share our goals and to collaboratively work with a thought partner to identify the steps we plan to take to reach them. There is an increased amount of personal accountability. Each time we meet with our coach, we give an accounting of the progress we have made or the missteps that need to be corrected. And while each of these things may challenge us, the very best professionals are the very best because of the way they maximize the support of their coach.
So, how do we do that? The Lindenberger Group offers seven steps for maximizing the benefits of executive coaching. I invite you to consider them for yourself as you begin your work with a math or literacy coach.
PREPARE FOR DISCOMFORT. Quality coaching starts with a candid self-assessment through self-reflection or feedback. This can be scary. Know that your coach is there to support you and help you explore the work you are engaged in pursuit of your goals.
SET CLEAR GOALS. The only way to get to a destination is to clearly articulate exactly where you are trying to go. This will help you to stay on track and understand where adjustments are needed along the way.
BE OPEN TO FEEDBACK. None of us are perfect and all of us have room to grow. Feedback is a gift! Others, who live outside of our daily experience, can see things we miss. By capitalizing on and understanding their perspective, we will be able to see our blind spots and consider how to best proceed forward successfully.
BUILD ON YOUR STRENGTHS. We all have strengths. Coaching is about leveraging those strengths to reach our goals. Your coach will help you to recognize your strengths and use them as a foundation for achieving your desired outcomes.
BE AWARE WHEN STRENGTHS BECOME WEAKNESSES. Sometimes our strengths, when we lean on them too much, can serve as a hindrance to our progress. New achievement often requires a new set of skills. Over-reliance on the same skills we have typically used may not always be the best approach when you are trying to accomplish something new.
REMEMBER THAT IT TAKES PRACTICE. We have all heard the adage, “Rome wasn’t built in a day.” Expert teachers and leaders are also not developed in a day. It takes practice, practice, practice and time, time, time! Be patient with yourself. Mistakes are inherent and expected. Just like we know our students will stumble at times throughout the learning process, we should expect the same for ourselves and give ourselves grace.
SHOW COURAGE! It takes courage to try something new and to delve into areas and practices that are different from what we have done in the past. Be brave! Lean into your coach and your growth. The final result will make it all worth it!
We are excited about this year and the opportunities it affords us as teachers and leaders in service of our students. Congratulations on taking the first steps with your coach! You are in for an exciting journey!