Friday, November 17, 2006

Put Me In, Coach! I'm Ready to Play

Today I'm having lunch with Lisa, another old friend from my ISPI days. We're planning to talk teaching opportunities at Columbus State and just generally reacquaint.

It dawned on me yesterday that there is probably a connection between how much I've been mourning the loss of my MPOD community and my reaching out to old and new colleagues, friends, and acquaintances. Maybe now that the connection has been brought to awareness I can act on those impulses more consciously.

Yesterday I attended a full-day internal training called "Coaching for High Performance." The instructor/facilitator, Kay, was a self-aware, confident, and gracious young woman that I'm happy to add to my growing network of local professional connections (see paragraph above!). The training itself was learning-filled, with lots of opportunities to practice different aspects of coaching.

Ah-ha or reminder moments for me:

  • Powerful, open-ended questions stimulate the coachee's thinking. We performed a coaching exercise where we were limited to only asking "powerful questions" of the coachee. As the coach, it's very difficult to hold back from giving advice or even simply paraphrasing what the coachee has said. But as I experienced the coachee side of the "questions only" equation, I could feel how my own thinking was being drawn out and amplified by the questions. Very powerful.
  • I have many opportunities to self-coach if I choose to be more cognizant of them.
  • Mindful observation of a practice coaching session can be very enlightening. My observations of two coaching sessions led me to remember how important framing (context) is in any conversation. In one instance as the observer, I had no frame of reference for the situation being coached . . . it was really difficult to figure out what was going on in the conversation! Another important aspect - specificity. During another observation session of "corrective coaching," I couldn't tell what behavior the coach was trying to correct in the coachee. During the debrief, I checked in with the coachee - he wasn't sure what change the coach wanted to see either! It's so important to give examples and be explicit about what needs to change.

I'd like to set up a formal mutual coaching relationship with someone else who wants to keep practicing these skills. Any takers out there?

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