By Ellen Eisenberg

By Ellen Eisenberg, Executive Director of The Pennsylvania Institute for Instructional Coaching (PIIC)

Monday, September 19, 2016

Although coaching is situational and contextual, we all experience some common “interruptions” to the coaching cycle. Those commonalities or similarities in coaching interactions help us define trends and offer various ways to address these situations when they occur.

We call those disruptions problems of practice and we all face them in our coaching practice. To tackle these, we must make time for reflection. We must identify the challenges, the root issues, and behaviors necessary to address them while moving towards positive outcomes. Remember, however, that coaches help their teaching colleagues resolve their own issues through the art of effective questioning, not by telling their colleagues what to do. It’s all about coaches asking the right questions so that their teaching colleagues reflect and share their thinking, offering multiple opportunities to talk things through to resolution.

In a recent ASCD SmartBrief (July 14, 2016), a survey from ED PULSE found these results in answer to the question, “What is the most common problem of practice you face as a teacher leader?” Coaches, take note… the number one problem of practice is establishing relationships with colleagues and creating a collaborative culture. Interesting… coaches cannot coach unless the environment (physical and emotional) is conducive for change.  That can only happen through the development of trusting relationships.

Relationships with colleagues/collaborative culture
 20.00%
Effective use of structured meeting times
 18.63%
Navigating difficult conversations
 18.08%
Current structures to utilize leadership capabilities
 15.34%
Facilitating effective teams
 14.25%
Building trust (colleagues and administration)
 10.14%
Knowledge of adult learning/working with adults
 3.56%

What is the most common problem of practice that surfaces in your coaching interactions?

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