“If it is to be, it is up to me”: Respecting Choice

This is the second of my personal reflections based on Jim Knight’s ‘Instructional Coaching: A Partnership Approach to Improving Instruction’. Jim outlines seven principles that frame the work of partnership instructional coaching, which are:

  1. Recognising equality
  2. Respecting choice
  3. Encouraging voice
  4. Engaging in dialogue
  5. Encouraging reflection
  6. Enacting praxis
  7. Experiencing reciprocity

Today’s thought is about Respecting choice: Teachers should have choice regarding what and how they learn’.

One of the things I have been wrestling personally about myself as a developing coach, is to what extent are the teachers who I am working with reflecting upon and naming their own next steps for learning. If it is truly a partnership approach, my actions and words must begin from a perspective that each person in the partnership is equal and that knowledge can be co-constructed through dialogue.

So has choice looked like in the context of my role at St Luke’s?

In prepping to work with teachers at the beginning of the term, staff had the opportunity to reflect on an area of their practice that they felt as though needed developing. For some, this looked like developing mathematical tasks that was both challenging and open. For others, it was more about how to launch an investigation without “talking the children out of their curiosity”. Whatever their self-identified need was, my next step was meeting with staff individually or in small groups during planning time to unpack the why behind their goal. More often than not, it was an area that I had also identified.  Through collaborative discussion, we named:

  • look fors;
  • what evidence we may collect to determine success;
  • what time will there be for modelling and observation; and finally
  • when will we reflect on the process to determine our next steps.

At the first instance, choice was provided. The path forward was shaped together and co-constructed to honour the professionalism that is inherent in our Foundations staff. Without the choice the professionalism is bypassed and there could be a breakdown in the ownership of the goal, process and consequently lower student learning outcomes.

This term has been effectively my first coaching rodeo, or at the very least, the first where I have strategically thought about the process of coaching. These posts may seem like fragmented ramblings where I am trying to make sense of the duty, calling and honour it is to lead staff in such a manner, but it just seems so morally correct to begin from the platform of relationship in leadership.

Have you worked with someone who has operated from a platform of relationship where choice and equality were pillars in the relationship? How did it feel?

Conversely, what about times where choice has been withheld or taken away? What did it feel like?