Immediately the course compelled me to both reflect and contemplate, through the development of my Learning Pledge. I must admit, I had grand plans on how I was going to propel my learning forward and how I was going to connect with my peers in my cohort so that we could collectively build our understanding. I will admit that I am disappointed at my own inability to follow through on my commitment to responding to their posts regularly. My intentions were good, as I had a strong start to the course, but then I encountered that barrier we refer to as life: suddenly I was travelling at least once per week, networking late at night and early in the morning, taking care of sick children, re-applying on my position. These were not factors I had considered when I so carefully apportioned the time that I had to devote to being the ideal learner I had envisioned.
Still, I looked forward to our weekly webinars, even if I was connecting from a hotel room or some random friend's basement that I had arranged to borrow internet from as I passed through town. To have my course facilitator model the aspects of Connected Coaching which I can only aspire to replicate with such grace; to hear how a pair of my cohort peers were applying coaching in a context outside of education; to have the world get a little smaller as one cohort peer joined us from Guangzhou, China; to connect with a cohort peer as coaching was being considered as an element to elevating the success of pre-service teachers; to learn from the experience of a cohort peer who was engaging in coaching around flipped learning experience; to practice the skills of coaching which had become rusty since not being accessed as often in my new role: these were opportunities to not be missed, especially when we could hear each other's excitement and trepidation as we learned together.
And now I am again compelled to both reflect and contemplate.
- Accountability: how can I operate from a coaching stance while ensuring the division's goals are being aligned to educator goals?
- How does this relate to design thinking?
- Technology: what new tools can I learn about that can be leveraged in enhancing professional practice and supporting student learning?
- How can capacity be built for utilizing these tools?
- Ongoing Growth: how can I develop a connected coaching repertoire that invites educator participation in a meaningful and purposeful way while ensuring that protocol and expectations do not hinder the desire to access this professional development resource?
- How can authenticity be balanced with commitments at the school level?
- Presence: how can I capitalize on what I know about various models of coaching already to develop a deeper understanding of connected coaching and facilitate the desire among educators in our division to access coaching?
- What does a connected coaching presence look like, feel like, sound like when successful in a school division?
Wow - I may have learned more than I anticipated...which compels me to continue with reflection and contemplation. Am I able to respond with integrity when asked questions about connected coaches and the connected coaching experiences? I will try.
- What dispositions best serve those in the role of connected coaches?
- What are expectations for connected coaches?
- How can coaches best support and assist educators in becoming self directed connected learners?
- What aspects of current technologies can be leveraged and how in an appreciative/strength based approach to coaching in online communities?
- How can coaches best build trust and establish rapport in online communities?
- How can coaches help educators realize and act upon their strengths?
- How can coaches facilitate design thinking?
- With what activities and protocols should a connected coach’s toolkit be filled?
So now I feel confident that I know the theory behind connected coaching and I have access to the resources to support my coaching practice - however, I remain compelled to reflect and contemplate one final thought: Am I ready? Do I measure up sufficiently with the criteria for connected coaching at this point in my journey to be able to engage in it successfully? I can hope.
- Do I engage educators by requesting stories about their strengths?
- Do I use affirmations and powerful questions to assist educators in realizing previously unrecognized potential?
- Do I persevere in exploring ideas and concepts, rethinking, revising, and continual unpacking as I build upon my own strengths and assist in uncovering strengths of those I coach?
- Do I engage in discussions on difficult or messy topics from an appreciative inquiry perspective to increase confidence and self efficacy?
- Have I explored new forms of collaboration?
- Do I have a well recognized online voice?
- Do I exploit the affordances of technology such as Blackboard Collaborate, Skype, Google Hangouts for synchronous communication?
- Can I remix recognized face to face protocols and activities to use for coaching in online spaces?
- Do I recognize and embrace the building of relationships and trust through co-creation of content and avenues other than text (video, audio, images)?
- Can I use activities to create a connection to the content and context, to oneself, and to those who are part of the learning community at school and online?
- Do I engage in, demonstrate, and advocate for self directed connected learning?
- Do I update my professional expertise in and support educators in developing expertise around problem based learning?
- Do I share expertise with and scaffold experiences for educators in developing action research?
- Do I understand and assist educators in the development of TPACK?
- Do I experiment with and reflect upon new strategies?
- Have I and will I continue to collectively review and analyze with an open mind and without judgement the many perspectives on coaching?
- Do I have a propensity for and understanding of strengths based, appreciative approaches?
- Do I have a tendency for mindfulness?
- Am I committed to understanding gained through listening and asking good questions related to practice?
- Do I embrace perseverance toward deep thought by exploring ideas and concepts, rethinking, revising, and continual repacking and unpacking, resisting urges to finish prematurely?
- Do I have the courage and initiative to engage in discussion on difficult or messy topics?
- Am I committed to deep reflection and growth over time?
- Am I inclined toward being open-minded, integritous, and professional?
- Am I dedicated to the ongoing development of expertise?
- Do I share an ardour for a culture of collegiality - that "none of us is as good as all of us"?
- Do I believe that the contributions of all can lead to improved coaching practice?
After a deep and lengthy consideration of what I have learned, what I know, and what I believe, I am left feeling empowered to enact connected coaching in my division. I have my divisional colleagues to lean on, but also my cohort from the Connected Coaching course as well as others in my online learning network. I am appreciative of the activities and protocols that are now in my toolbox, joining the arsenal that I have been fortunate to have developed over time. I recognize that the strength that will be found in my roll out plan will be in the coaching, collaboration, and feedback that will be part of the process. I am excited to continue on this Connected Coaching journey within my context of education.