The Art of Coaching by Elena Aguilar

“Coaching is a form of professional development that brings out the best in people, uncovers strengths and skills, builds effective teams, cultivates compassion, and builds emotionally resilient educators. Coaching at its essence is the way that human beings, and individuals, have always learned best.”

Aguilar, Elena. The Art of Coaching: Effective Strategies for School Transformation (p. 6). Wiley. Kindle Edition.

When I joined a few educational coaching specific groups on Facebook, I noticed many posts asking for reading recommendations. Elena Aguilar’s The Art of Coaching is one that is almost always recommended. In the introduction, Ms. Aguilar suggests that the book be read in snippets, over time, and as needed. Looking back, I should have heeded her advice. While the entire book is valuable, there are four parts that stood out to me that I’d like to reflect on today.

Types of Coaching – Directive, Facilitative, Transformational

When Aguilar started talking about the types of coaching, I immediately thought of the ICF Framework from the New Teacher Center. (Visit NTC’s Website for more resources.) Moving through the Instructional, Collaborative, and Facilitative styles of coaching creates more autonomous teachers. Aguilar describes these three types of coaching also, but goes a step further and says transformational coaching is where she focuses her book. Transformational coaching explores teachers beliefs, being, and behaviors and how they relate to educational and worldwide systems. It goes deeper than the day-to-day instruction in the classroom. It gets to the core of who the teacher is as a person as well as their personal and professional goals and aspirations.

Coaching Lenses

Compassion/Empathy –

“No one can learn from you if you think that they suck.”

Aguilar, Elena. The Art of Coaching: Effective Strategies for School Transformation (p. 33). Wiley. Kindle Edition.
  1. Inquiry
  2. Change Management
  3. Systems Thinking
  4. Adult Learning
  5. Systemic Oppression/Equity
  6. Emotional Intelligence

First five Coaching Lenses: © 2007 National Equity Project.

Each lens has specific ways to look at a coaching situation. Coaches think about these lenses as they create a dialog with their clients/teachers. They give unique ways to think about the issues that the client/teacher brings up. Take a look at a PDF from the Bright Morning team regarding questions and assumptions of each of these lenses.

Coaching Tools

Aguilar provides many many resources on her website that can be used to assist in a beneficial coach/client relationship. One of the tools she provides, Sentence Stems, is a resource to help frame conversations. One of the interesting things I’m attempting to do in my coaching conversations is to avoid using the “So you’re saying” or “I heard you say” sentence stems. Responding without parroting what the client/teacher said shows that the coach is synthesizing and thinking through what the client said.

Personal Mission/Vision of Coaching

One thing that Aguilar laid out early on in her book was her personal manifesto of coaching. She outlines ten core beliefs that she holds tightly. As I continue to think about what I want to consider as my core beliefs, this is the preliminary statement I wrote: I am a proponent of lifetime learning, an author and supporter of designing engaging learning experiences, and an advocate for integrating technology where appropriate.

I’m sure there are things that I’m missing, but for now, I think that’s a pretty good start.

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