At Swivl, our definition of coaching is teaching through relationships.
By doing more coaching in schools, and doing it better, educators and students can develop the emotional maturity required to thrive in a world where our behaviors are increasingly-ruled by artificial intelligence.
However, there are two big problems with coaching in schools. Time and place.
Educators and students need time to coach. Typically, they need a shared place to coach, too. This limits the quantity of coaching that can happen. By limiting the quantity, the quality of coaching is capped as well.
Under these constraints, coaching is perceived as a powerful but inconvenient pedagogical tool.
However, this view of coaching is one-dimensional and outdated.
By viewing coaching as teaching through relationships, we’ve been able to deconstruct coaching into two distinct parts. First,we can scale it across time and place. And, secondly, we can increase the quantity and impact of coaching as a tool for teaching.
By scaling coaching and its impact, we can help educators and students build the emotional maturity required to thrive in the twenty-first century.
But how does this happen? What does it look like?
The Coaching Construct unlocks the potential for scale
When we talk about deconstructing coaching, it’s helpful to use Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs as a framework. To mature, one has to develop through set stages, meeting each need for progressing to the next. In education, Maslow’s Hierarchy is the gold standard for depicting needs that must be met in sequential order.
When we apply Maslow’s familiar hierarchy to coaching in schools, we break coaching into three constituent parts organized into a pyramid. As the pyramid shape suggests, the bottom level of the hierarchy happens most frequently, the middle happens less and the top level happens least frequently.
At each level of the hierarchy, coaching is about building relationships through conversations. Progressing up the pyramid, the conversations evolve from exploratory, to intentional, to evidence-based.
The Coaching Construct is the framework for visualizing coaching in its deconstructed form and understanding the relationship between the constituent parts.
At the bottom of the Coaching Construct are Conversations that Propel.
These are frequent, casual interactions: student to student, educator to educator, or educator to student. These conversations uncover ideas worth exploiting at a deeper level. They lead to social connections worth building at a deeper level, too. These conversations form the basis of positive, healthy relationships, and are necessary for more specific coaching and learning to occur.
In the middle of the Coaching Construct is Connection with Intention.
In this case, intention could be synonymous with focus, objective, or goal. Connection with Intention happens when an educator reaches out to a colleague or a student to talk about one idea, moment, skill, or goal.
To compare, this is a less open-ended conversation than Conversations that Propel. Because of the additional planning and energy required for this type of interaction, as well as the time required to act on the information exchanged, Connections with Intention happen less frequently than Conversations that Propel.
At the top of the Coaching Construct is Optimization through Observations.
This happens least frequently. Just as with an athletic coach guiding an athlete through a move, play or skill, this happens when a coach pauses to observe a teacher or student in action. They provide targeted, actionable feedback the teacher or student can use to improve their performance. This stage is also where data may inform the conversation, and a specific structure may guide it.
Unlike Conversations that Propel and Connections with Intention, Observations involve one participant in action, while the coach watches and responds.
Break down coaching to build people up
In schools, everyone’s schedule is packed, and individuals are constantly moving around, class to class or building to building.
This limits the opportunities for traditional coaching.
However, by deconstructing coaching into the three constituent parts described above, as well as applying technology at each level, coaching can be scaled in education unlike ever before.
Let’s take a look at what this could look like in action.
Build community through live audio
Conversations that Propel already happen in faculty rooms and classrooms all the time.
However, as any teacher can tell you, it is sometimes hard to find like-minded educators to talk with when you’re looking to have this specific kind of conversation. With the stresses of daily life for a teacher, casual conversations can turn towards the frustrations of the job.
At the same time, traditional classroom conversations do not always provide pathways for all students to engage meaningfully through conversation. In-person social dynamics can discourage some students from participating.
Teachers and students need a space where they can find conversations that are organic, inclusive and uplifting.
Our Skilled.space platform is our answer to these challenges.
By separating out this part of coaching, the casual conversations that leave people emotionally fulfilled and energized, and applying technology to make it more convenient to make these conversations happen, educators can take a step towards making coaching an everyday part of their practice.
Build connection through asynchronous audio
All students and teachers have experienced Connections with Intention when meeting one-on-one after school, during a tutoring session, or in a feedback conference.
Once again, the challenges of scaling this process are time and place. When teachers have a class of 20 to 30 students, it’s impossible to intentionally connect with each student regularly while delivering instruction and assessing student work.
Teachers and students both know that Connections with Intention lead to accelerated growth, but there’s so much that gets in the way.
Synth is our answer to these challenges.
Through asynchronous, focused coaching conversations, teachers can build stronger 1:1 connections with students and other teachers outside of the scheduled class time or even outside of the school day. By setting expectations for the topic and frequency of these discussions, teachers can implement these intentional coaching conversations in a way that is not only more convenient, but sustainable and set on their terms.
Additionally, teachers have all experienced “the parking lot epiphany,” when you are hit with a sudden insight around a strategy or resource to use in class. Synth can act as an audio journal for collecting these moments, reflecting on them and making them the basis for further coaching conversations.
Build performance through video coaching
At the top level of the Coaching Construct is Optimization through Observations.
At a few points each semester, it is empowering to go deep, gather evidence and participate in a focused coaching conversation based on a classroom observation. These conversations are supported by rubrics, goals and a formal structure, and they are what most teachers currently think of when conceiving of coaching.
Within the context of the Coaching Construct, though, there are many previous, more casual coaching conversations that support the dialogue that happens around an observation.
Just as teachers are stretched for time and by geography when they want to scale their coaching of students, administrators also face the same challenges when it comes to observing teachers; it can be difficult to provide frequent, quality observations or coaching sessions that can lead to teacher growth.
Our answer to these challenges is Swivl Robot + Teams.
When teachers can record lessons on video and share these videos with colleagues or administrators, schools can scale the process of Optimizing through Observations. No longer do colleagues or administrators need to be in the same place to observe and coach teachers. No longer do observations have to happen synchronously.
The impact of coaching when it’s deconstructed and scaled
Scaling coaching is urgent both in the short term and the long term.
Right now, educators must prioritize teaching through relationships to heal after the most challenging year in recent memory. Moving forward, coaching builds emotional maturity, which is our most important tool in the battle for our minds happening as artificial intelligence increasingly impacts our decisions.
By deconstructing the coaching process into three parts, and applying technology to scale it, we can increase the quantity and quality of coaching that happens at all levels of teaching and learning.
This will accelerate teachers’ and students’ process of developing emotional maturity, and help us take a leap forward in preparing students to deal with the rapidly changing world that we’re preparing them for.