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PD for Instructional Coaches: Exploring Your Inner Landscape

By Elena Aguilar — January 29, 2015 3 min read
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What does your “inner coach landscape” look like? Who are you being when you coach? How can you better get to know the terrain of yourself as a coach?

In my book, The Art of Coaching, I suggest that a transformational coach’s work is about exploring a client’s behaviors, beliefs, and ways of being. We work with coachees on helping them examine the behaviors they’re demonstrating and the actions that they’re taking—usually, in our case, in the classroom or in a school setting. Then we also explore the beliefs from which they’re acting because our behaviors emerge from our beliefs, of which we are sometimes but not always conscious. A transformational coach explores these beliefs and seeks to shift any that aren’t in the service of all children.

Finally, a transformational coach holds space for a coachee to explore his or her way of being. This domain of Being is the most abstract and takes a while to figure out what exactly it is—but our ways of being often manifest in our emotions and our body language; they have a lot to do with how we construct our identities. I also think about it as the “way you show up” in the world—and that can be, for example, as a force of compassion and calmness, or as a community builder, or as a creator of safe learning spaces. One of the phrases I use occasionally and intentionally in my coaching is, “Who are you being in this moment? And who do you want to be?” It’s common for there to be a discrepancy between our current way of showing up and our desired way.

Perhaps some of us do this in our coaching with others—but when do you give yourself the time and space to do this kind of exploration about your own way of being? And particularly about your coaching way of being?

I hold the following as a primary Truth in our work: A transformational coach can only be a transformational coach if he/she attends to his/her own transformation first.

This means that we carve out (and demand!) time for our own learning about coaching, time to explore our own behaviors, beliefs, and ways of being. Ideally, every coach has a coach, but until that ideal is a reality, I want to offer you an activity through which you might explore your coaching being.

Exploring Your Inner Coaching Landscape

Surround yourself with magazines, scraps of colorful paper, images from calendars, markers, paints, colored pencils and so on. Then start tearing, cutting, pasting and illustrating whatever comes to you as a reflection of your inner coaching terrain. You won’t know what your Coaching Being looks like as you head in, so you may not know what to look for—after all, I’m assuming that you haven’t sauntered around on that terrain a whole lot. Take an inquiry stance, be open to whatever you see or gravitate towards or whatever your fingers grab at. Explore. Trust the creative process—even if you don’t see yourself as a “creative” or “artistic” person—be open to the process and see where it takes you.

Playing music in the background can help also. Or silence.

When we can get clear on what our coaching terrain looks like, we are more likely to act from it. In creating a visual depiction of it you are one step closer, you have made contact with an aspect of your self which can serve you more than it already might.

If you did this activity in community, perhaps with other coaches, then you may want to share your creations. You can also reflect on the activity and discuss prompts such as:

• What did you learn about yourself as a person and as a coach from doing this activity?
• What—if anything—surprised you?
• What do you most appreciate about your inner coach terrain?
• What else would you like to explore about your coach Being?
• Are there any aspects of your coaching being that you’d like to expand, refine or shift?

Then put your creation somewhere you’ll see it regularly. Over time, notice what you notice in your creation—what draws your attention, which images resonate with how you’re experiencing yourself as a coach and what feels like the most accurate representation of your Coach Being.

Happy exploring!

The opinions expressed in The Art of Coaching Teachers are strictly those of the author(s) and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Editorial Projects in Education, or any of its publications.

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