I have to brag for a minute but I think you’ll like it – especially in light of all of the negative press that education is receiving lately!
I have worked with the Honolulu Community Action Program in Honolulu (HCAP), Hawaii for the past year on their new coaching initiative. (I know it’s tough, but someone has to do it!) http://www.hcapweb.org/
A bit of background: HCAP has had a cadre of mentors who had typically gone into classrooms at the sites that they supported and worked with teachers on what the teachers felt they needed help with. The mentors were doing good work, but they “belonged” to the site and lacked program-wide direction, which limited their effect on teaching in the classrooms.
As I began to work with the mentors, managers and leaders of the program, we realized that they had vision, it was just not carried out at just the same way at each site. To make a long story short, these folks worked HARD to establish the difference between the mentor role and their new “mentor/coach” role, they attended a bunch of professional development and actually used the information, they implemented a new accountability and measurement system for their teachers, they practiced techniques and willingly received feedback, they reflected regularly on what was working and adjusted what wasn’t, they created “coaching trios” with the teacher, coach and leader playing equal parts with equal accountability – in short, they dove in and just got their hands dirty at their sites.
It wasn’t easy, it wasn’t pretty all of the time (despite it being gorgeous Hawaii!) and it didn’t always make sense at the moment, but what I was most impressed by is that the coaches kept coaching, they kept talking about coaching, they kept getting back in the classrooms I had my last phone conference with them last week and here’s what the mentor/coaches reported:
- They felt like they had greater program direction this year
- They have increased confidence in coaching
- They have tried new techniques and stuck with them and they worked
- They are charging into the next school year, ready to roll
What most impressed me about this group, more than any other, is that they worked hard even when the advice I was giving them seemed weird. They worked hard when people ignored their advice. They worked hard when things felt very different. And on the other side of that hard work, they have found great success. They are poised to be even more focused this next year than they have been in previous years and I attribute that success to a great group of professionals who listened, who practiced, who gave feedback, who fearlessly tried new things, who stuck with it and who have rallied with a ton of energy. That’s success in my book.