I’m currently reading the book, The Burnout Fix, by Jacinta Jimenez. So much of what she writes resonates with me about company culture and personal growth. One sentence in particular, however, attached itself to my beliefs on growth. She wrote, “If you want to keep your employees around and engaged, you need to invest in their personal and professional development.” (220)
Professional learning opportunities can take on many forms. We’ve long known the importance of differentiating instruction in the classroom. That type of individualized learning, however, shouldn’t stop with students. To me, the answer to personalizing professional growth, while still feeling supported, is job-embedded coaching. Through job-embedded coaching, we are able to tailor professional learning opportunities for each educator involved. Any solid coaching relationship begins with honest and open conversation surrounding current practice and common challenges. “Alongside their coach, participating education leaders co-develop and facilitate rich learning experiences that directly and positively impact students.” [ALP]
We often think about coaching being a 1:1 experience. There are benefits to small-group coaching, as well. In early September, I began a new coaching relationship with PLCs that contain a variety of stakeholders: an academic technology coach, building-level leader (principal or academic dean), technology support specialist, and a trainer. In many districts, people in these positions often act in silos. Directors at this district see the benefit of these roles supporting one another. By working together, they can better support teachers which then has a greater impact on students.
As their coach, I got to spend a few hours with the entire cohort talking about the current state and dreaming of the ideal for the district in just three short years. Those collaborative conversations led to three emerging themes for student outcome and teacher action focus areas. Then, in the small group coaching sessions, each PLC developed a goal and action plan around one of those themes. As a coach, my first step that day was to listen to the team. They shared areas of concern and excitement for that campus. They brainstormed ideas. They were honest with themselves and the team about how stretched thin they were feeling. I took notes. I asked guiding questions when necessary. But mostly, I listened. Then, we started shaping all of those thoughts and ideas into an actionable goal. Today’s coaching session was important for bringing key people together for a time of collaboration, building relationships, and forming a thought partnership. The goal that emerged is one that they are unified around. The action steps vary depending on each person’s goal. By creating this plan, each person realized the piece they play in the overall picture. They each have individual plans that feed into the group goal. It’s a beautiful example of personalized professional growth in a group setting.
How does your district support your personal growth? How are you taking that responsibility for your growth personally? Check out ALP’s coaching and modeling service to see if it would be the right fit for you.