Part of my job is to coach educators toward their ideal balance of technology integration and the right blended learning for their environment. My idea of the coach I was going to be, my assessment of the coach I am, and the coach I want to grow into is important to how I do my job.
Always a Coach
I was always interested in coaching sports in which I enjoyed a measure of success. It speaks to those who master a skill or strategy wanting to share that knowledge. It also helps me understand my personal approaches over time to motivating other educators. My approach has evolved over time and has become more inclusive and inviting.
I always knew I would be a teacher, but the title of coach was something I added to my list of goals in middle school. While I was moderately successful in academics, I was rapidly successful in sports. Students who experience that rapid growth in anything are enthusiastic about that topic. I went so far as asking my high school coach to wait to retire until I was done with college. I was pretty certain of where I would be and what I would be doing.
Then, as life does, it changes your well-laid plans. And I moved out of state to finish my undergraduate degree in education elsewhere. And my first dream coaching job went to a teammate.
What I liked about the idea of coaching however was not gone.
Books I read when I when I needed to be a coach, but could only imagine athletics:
The Heart of a Champion: Inspiring True Stories of Challenge and Triumph
Friday Night Lights, 25th Anniversary Edition: A Town, a Team, and a Dream
The older me would also add this to that list:
My Losing Season: A Memoir
What Kind of Coach
As I gained my own classroom, I realized that I could coach in the way that I wanted without content in which I was a practiced expert. I was delighted to discover that my motivational style was well received by many students. The fact that I could guide positive results without being a complete expert was new and exciting to me.
As I worked on my craft of teaching I encountered students who were motivated differently and by unexpected things. Instead of learning all the ways to motivate individuals I started, slowly, to loosen my grip of control over the direction or from the motivation could take for different students. That is a long, ongoing process for me.
Currently I strive for a wide background of knowledge and learn specifics of softwares right before redelivery for the most part. I appreciate that the room often contains many experts, some paid to talk and others who thought they might spend the session quietly; it is my job to discover and invite them to the conversation.
Now working as an eLearning Specialist (which could also mean: a Technology Coach, an Instructional Coach) I mainly work on coaching adults in the process of creating more technology-enriched lessons, or a blended learning environment. I have a complete grasp on the fact that I need to approach each participant, in any coaching scenario as someone who will tell me how they want to demonstrate understanding, how they will participate, and to what depth. Maybe I do not lead with that, but that is now my default expectation of adults I coach. I still fight against a compliance background, where all participants much reach Level X by a set time, but I recognize the extra miles I see people give when they opt-in to an idea.
Books I read to get me to where I am:
Failure Is Not an Option: Mission Control from Mercury to Apollo 13 and Beyond
I Still Need Coaching
In order for me to grow I need more coaching. I belong to an educational technology professional learning network, #ETCoaches, which helps me gather resources to read and consider. Some recent book studies in particular have included:
Learning First, Technology Second: The Educators Guide to Designing Authentic Lessons
Effective Digital Learning Environments: Your Guide to the ISTE Standards for Coaches
You can read about our first slow chat book study.
I wrote this book review and I would welcome more to review on this narrow topic of instructional technology leadership, EdTech Leadership.
Books which I am currently reading which I hope propel me forward:
The Art of Coaching: Effective Strategies for School Transformation
Coaching: The 7 Laws Of Coaching: Powerful Coaching Skills That Will Predict Your Team’s Success
The Coaching Habit: Say Less, Ask More & Change the Way You Lead Forever
Continual rereads for me:
Outliers: The Story of Success
To Sell Is Human: The Surprising Truth About Moving Others
Give and Take: Why Helping Others Drives Our Success
Books I have yet to read:
The Art of Coaching Teams: Building Resilient Communities that Transform Schools
My Pinterest board for “Great Reads.” My GoodReads account.
What are you reading professionally that is helping you move forward?
2018-03-06 at 10:25 am
Coaching as teaching is definitely a unique concept – can’t say I’ve heard of it before, but it makes sense, in hindsight. How did you get interested in doing that, besides previous teaching jobs?
I’d maybe consider teaching writing one day – I’m an editor for my day job but I majored in Creative Writing in school.
2018-03-06 at 10:27 am
I was always going to be a teacher and also coach running sports. But as I progressed further into my teaching career I realized teaching is academic and social coaching. I fell in love.
Now I try to coach educators. A new skill to acquire! Thanks for asking!
2018-03-06 at 12:35 pm
Currently, I am reading Guy Kawasaki’s The Art of Social Media. Read it a couple of years ago and now I am really deep diving into it.
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2018-03-06 at 7:10 pm
The term coaching is all-encompassing in a way. You are sometimes just born with the gift for coaching be that in sports, life coaching, career coaching or teaching. You have a gift and I am glad you found your calling!
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2018-03-06 at 8:36 pm
I love being able to coach not only my son but his friends. I love being able to be a coach instead of a boss. I love the concept of coaching because allows the other people to find their skills and weakness. Thanks for sharing this article
2018-03-06 at 9:17 pm
My first job as a teenager was as a lifeguard and swim instructor. From there I went on to get my teaching certificate and held many long term sub positions. I also coached swimming. I would love to get back into coaching swimming.
2018-03-06 at 9:50 pm
Well this gave me pause actually because I thought initially that it was literal. But now I see that coaching can apply to many different jobs really. I like the idea of teaching as coaching and coaching others to be better. I need to surround myself with good coaches to improve and succeed.
2018-03-06 at 10:25 pm
This is super interesting, it sounds like you found your calling. I love the idea of coaching and making a career out of something you love. I have always had a passion for writing and story telling. I am a blogger so that worked out well for me but I love the idea of coaching others to find their passion, too!
2018-03-06 at 10:39 pm
I agree that coaching skills come in many forms. I’ve always felt my husband had those skills to becoming a coach he’s always had that quality to help others succeed. Now I can say I’ve surrounded myself around many wonderful life coaches for my business and it feels great.
2018-03-07 at 1:25 pm
I used to teach Science and finding a child’s motivation is key to success. I love the idea of applying coaching techniques to the classroom, I hate that so much of the teaching practices are so dry and uninspiring. We have struggled with motivation for school work with my daughter but finally feel like we’re finding the right approach. Every child is different!
2018-03-07 at 1:52 pm
I sadly don’t have a book that is helping me with my career, at the moment…my books are mostly non-fiction and then the bible, which if I reconsider answering is the book that we all need to establish a better career and character. I have encountered different coaches in life as well, and I appreciate each one of them, no matter their method, it was always my outlook in life that has helped me to accept even the not so fond memories.
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2018-03-07 at 8:16 pm
Thanks for sharing this post and so many amazing book recommendations, Penny! Your post reminded me about one important aspect of my job (the coaching portion of my job) that I tend to forget sometimes: just like when I was in the classroom, I have a sales job just as much as I have a coaching job. I definitely need to re-read To Sell is Human.
To respond to your question, I just finished Alice Keeler’s Teachng Math with Google Apps. As a former ELA teacher, I need all the help I can get when trying to move my math teachers forward.
2018-03-13 at 7:19 am
There are so many different kinds of coaches and these all sound like great reads. No matter what kind of coach someone is, there is always something to learn.
2018-03-13 at 11:28 am
Yup, there are lots of different coaches out there. I know I am coach to my kids. Sometimes I have to be to their friends when they aren’t making wise choices in my home. I’ve heard of life coaches, but I wouldn’t ever pay someone to tell me things that are common sense.
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2018-03-13 at 2:34 pm
I have never been interested in coaching my kids sports teams…kudos to all the parents that do that! I do “coach” my daughter with her homeschool work. She has an online teacher but I assist the best I can.
2018-03-13 at 5:40 pm
My husband just recently started coaching my sons age group in hockey. I think he’s having as much fun (or more) than the kids!!
2018-03-13 at 6:05 pm
I have no experiences with coaches or coaching. I have never been into sports and my girls have no been into sports. I think I would be a patient and caring coach though.
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2018-03-13 at 7:09 pm
I moved from being a teacher who coached kids to a administrator who coached teachers and it was definitely a rough transition. You really have to find what motivates your “learners” and change your approach to fit them.
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2018-03-13 at 8:47 pm
This sounds like you definitely found your calling. I never thought of coaching in an educational way but this sounds like I would find this helpful too!
2018-03-14 at 1:18 am
This has some really nice thought to it. Being a coach is a really great approach to teaching.
2018-03-14 at 5:19 am
I agree that it’s all about continuous learning, even if you are a coach, you should still be open to learning new things and improving as well. I think coaching is something that coaches definitely should go through.
2018-03-14 at 6:36 am
Being a coach for me is a great one compared to being a teacher. Some sort of there is a personal attachment when you say coach. Thanks for sharing the books too. I’ll try to check them once in a while as well.
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2018-03-14 at 10:42 am
I should forward this to the football coach here in my kids school, they could learn a lot from it. I have no skill in coaching, but we need more people like you.
2018-03-14 at 11:15 am
I have been recently been looking the other way when someone mentions the word coach because the term is being misused these days such that I don’t trust the word itself now. It is so great to see career coaches like yourself who have well earned it and still consider yourself not as a know it all coach but some who sees the need to continue learning as well as being coached by other.
2018-03-14 at 12:01 pm
I think coaching is a really cool concept. I am impressed by how many people are able to find a career by coaching. Doing a job you love is great!
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2018-03-14 at 2:19 pm
Oh! how I would love to have my own business coach sometimes… I think it is such a great asset. It was a blessing to have met a few and their insight is invaluable. I am glad to see you have been able to make something you love a way of living!
2018-03-14 at 4:39 pm
It sounds like you have found a job that you truly love. I considering that field at one point but didn’t think I had it in me. Congrats!
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2018-03-14 at 10:48 pm
My son definitely has 2 kinds of teachers. Teachers who show up, do the requirements and dismiss them for the day. The other’s are definitely more like coaches and he excels in their classes
2018-03-14 at 10:51 pm
COaching is definitely not for the weak of heart, I have several college friends who are coaches and they all LOVE their jobs! I will have to pass these book recs off to them!!
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2018-03-21 at 7:10 pm
I enjoyed the reading this! Thanks!
2018-03-25 at 3:31 pm
Thanks for the book read suggestions.
I am looking forward to reading them and being a coach for my kids.