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Inquiry vs Advocacy

What's your story?

We are all in different places, personally and professionally. We all have different backgrounds, and we are all living different experiences. That is the dynamic that gives us rich forum for sharing our stories and ideas, and to learn from one another.

What is your story as a teacher? What is your story as a coach? What has influenced the path that your story is taking? I am in an interesting place with my job. Let me regale you with the story...

Trainer vs Coach

I am a technology integrator. That is my title. I work in a small middle school of 160 students. We have been 1:1 for four years. In that time I have been training teachers how to use the devices that we have supplied them, and they have become very adept at using those devices. So good, in fact, that my job as a trainer is in jeopardy of becoming obsolete.

Being a trainer is not what I am passionate about, but it is what our little community needed, and in my job I have been able to work with teachers increasingly in a more creative role as a co-teacher and co-planner, which is what we all call a coach, I guess. And that is the direction that we are moving. So my story is changing.


My colleague Mike and I have been exploring the idea of coaching for most of this year. What are the different models of coaching? What are the strategies involved in this kind of work?

How does one transition from being the "fix the projector, please" person to the "help me plan this unit of inquiry, please" person?

There are plenty of resources and schools of thought around this topic, certainly enough to keep Mike and I busy reading, reflecting and designing for ourselves. Some of the important work is certainly for Mike and I to take on. For real change to occur though, something needs to happen on a community culture level. It is important that our community of teachers (and administrators) see themselves as collaborators and learners, otherwise there are precious few footholds for an innovative mind to start to climb.

Promote Inquiry Over Advocacy

In our exploration of coaching, this phrase gave Mike and I pause. Looking into what this phrase actually means in terms of collaboration was an important realization for us both. What does it mean, then?

Try to work to ask questions that lead your partner to inquire into their practice, rather that simply provide them with ideas (yours, not theirs) that might work in the context of your collaboration.

By encouraging a collaboration based on inquiry, a teacher will develop and grow their own ideas, and will have ownership of whatever the resulting lesson, unit, assessment. She will not be relying on you to provide solutions. She will be growing her practice, and you are a catalyst. There is a fine balance to this. I feel like I know what this is about, but putting it into practice is tough for me. I am still in the phase of working as hard as I can on listening, paraphrasing, and trying to quiet the voices in my head that want to provide answers to everything.

As far as I can tell right now, this is the work of a coach. What is your coaching story?