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Chapter 2: Transparency

Lang, Nathan D. Solution Tree Press PDF

Two

Transparency

Coaches are able to create trusting, positive, and sharing environments when they are transparent about their intentions, their goals, and even their own flaws and mistakes in teaching.Instructional coaches start off at a disadvantage in some ways when teachers associate the coach’s role with change at the classroom level. Even inside a positive culture, if people think you, as a coach, might be attempting change to the structure of norms, defenses go up. But if teachers work in a climate where they feel coaches are trying to help them and learn alongside them, and when coaches transparently share their own flaws and weaknesses in teaching, teachers will open up to their coaches. Teachers will then want to listen and even welcome you with open arms. Author Simon Sinek (2009) articulates the connection between transparency and collaboration by making the distinction that a team is not just a group of people who work together but a group of people who trust each other. And trust can only exist through transparency.

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Chapter 1: Collaboration

Lang, Nathan D. Solution Tree Press PDF
One

Collaboration

Coaches can establish a diverse, inclusive, purposeful, and collaborative community when they take the temperature of the school climate and invite people who have differing views to the table. Dismissive responses to attempts at collaboration arise all too commonly in schools. Take, for instance, the teacher who walks into a team meeting ready to create a vision with her teammates and is met with cynical team members who say, “I don’t have time for that right now.” The teammates also give nonverbal cues that they are too busy; after all, they have papers to grade, copies to make, and preparations to complete for the next day. Consider also the instructional coach who brings her ingenious idea to the principal, who meets her with an impassive attitude because the principal feels overwhelmed with his to-do list of managerial tasks. Additionally, imagine the district leader who has experienced success in trying something new and different and shares the strategy with the district instructional team, which turns down the idea immediately, saying it is not scalable and, therefore, would not work at a systems level. See All Chapters
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Chapter 3: Inquiry

Lang, Nathan D. Solution Tree Press PDF
Three

Inquiry

Coaches can help teachers learn and grow not by telling them what to do but by asking questions and promoting inquiry.

The modern educational landscape widely accepts that students must possess the following skills to have success in our dynamically changing world: critical thinking, collaboration, creativity, and communication (commonly referred to as 21st century skills or the four Cs; Partnership for 21st Century Skills, 2011).

 Ironically, educators continue to work hard at planning for instruction while underutilizing these crucial skills themselves. Teachers have become accustomed to accepting school- and district-level initiatives without inquiring as to their purpose or strategy for classroom integration. We encourage our students to question the motives behind a learning objective, or use questioning to illuminate a new facet of learning, but as educators, we struggle to approach new learning in this way. Schools must proactively prepare students for rapid changes in technology, society, and the workplace. As leaders, we must also proactively prepare teachers for these rapid changes and, furthermore, for innovation in the classroom. This requires continual learning and relentless inquiry. See All Chapters
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Chapter 4: Discourse

Lang, Nathan D. Solution Tree Press PDF

Four

Discourse

Coaches can purposefully use language in a way that creates a discourse to convey to a teacher that they value him or her as a person and a professional and value his or her ideas.

Because our students’ future is at stake, coaching must increasingly focus on continuous improvement, student achievement, learning gaps, teacher efficacy, and change leadership. Leaders may claim they focus on these points, but upon gauging their everyday language and discourse, there’s often misalignment between what coaches, as leaders, mean and what they say. For example, a school or district mission statement may emphasize a nurturing culture to support rigorous thinking and meaningful learning experiences, but the principal and coach frequently emphasize that teachers must follow a static and prescriptive curricular program. The coach’s language sets the tone and foundation for every interaction that follows it. It is important that a coach’s tone in interactions with teachers facilitates positive relationships that empower teachers to succeed. In a relational culture of trust and transparency, and with previous positive experiences, the coach can effectively use empowering discourse.

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Chapter 6: Sincerity

Lang, Nathan D. Solution Tree Press PDF

Six

Sincerity

Sincerity drives coaches to become the best versions of themselves and encourage teachers to do the same by illuminating teacher voice and supporting teacher innovation and creativity.

While people often use the terms sincerity and authenticity in tandem, authenticity has become exhaustingly overused in many social contexts, including the realm of education. It’s often touted as being a collaborative group norm for teachers to abide by, but it can be difficult to implement with fidelity, especially if the building culture doesn’t promote it. While both terms have roots in the same context of revealing truth, people use authenticity to define both objects and human behavior, and people mainly use sincerity to define the human condition. For example, you hear about Mexican food being authentic, but you wouldn’t hear people describe it as sincere. I define sincerity as a personality trait used to describe transparent and truthful people who have the ability to self-monitor their interactions. Coaches must display sincerity as they support teachers in illuminating their voice, fostering creativity and innovation, and promoting values-based decision making. Because the term authenticity pervades societal constructs and much of the important research discussed in this chapter, you’ll see references to both authenticity and sincerity in this chapter, but for the purposes of this book and coaching work in general, I prefer the term sincerity.

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