The main objective of coaching candidates for the ASC is the continuing growth of leadership abilities in beginning administrators. Leadership coaching is focused on individually created goals based on professional standards for administrators (CPSEL) that are informed by reflection and other formative assessments regarding emerging leadership competencies. Leadership coaching is not focused on whole school reform, specific curricular initiatives or implementing a specific strategy. Instead, it focuses on developing the individual leader's competencies and confidence to affect those reforms, initiatives and strategies.
There are a variety of coaching approaches that offer guidance and support to developing leaders (see examples below). Each type of coaching comes from a specific perspective regarding developing administrators' capacity and confidence to lead. Each approach has its own theory, skills and processes and target outcomes.
Co-developed by Art Costa and Robert Garmston, Cognitive Coaching is defined as a set of strategies, a way of thinking, and a way of working that invites self and others to shape and reshape their thinking and problem solving capabilities. In Cognitive Coaching, the person being coached, not the coach, evaluates what is good or poor, appropriate or inappropriate, effective or ineffective about his/her work. It is not conventional evaluation or performance appraisal. Cognitive coaching practice involves a three-phase cycle: pre-conference, observation, post-conference; used to help improve effectiveness by promoting reflection about one's practice. Feedback loops employed are internal (self-reflection), external (feedback from others), and entwined (back-and-forth, on-going reflection and feedback) The reflection learned through Cognitive Coaching helps develop problem-solving skills as leaders examine their experience, generate alternatives, and evaluate actions.
Instructional leadership focuses on strengthening teaching and learning, professional development, data-driven decision making, and accountability. An instructional coach is someone whose chief professional responsibility is to bring evidence-based practices into classrooms by working with teachers and other school leaders. For administrators, coaches may also offer tools for day-to-day challenges such as teacher supervision, meeting facilitation, decision making, school program planning and budget management.
Developed by the New Teacher Center, Blended Coaching builds upon the Cognitive Coaching work of Costa and Garmston and adds an instructional mode of coaching. The intention of blended coaching is to develop both ways of doing and ways of being through a combination of facilitative (cognitive) coaching and instructional coaching. The instructional emphasis affects the coachee's way of doing, and teaches specific knowledge and skills, while the facilitative approach allows the coachee to internalize learning and be transformed by it. Through observation, reflection, analysis, reinterpretation, and experimentation; the coach helps principals use constructivist strategies to create their own solutions and to design a plan of action.
Cultural Proficiency Coaching:
Based on the work of Delores and Randall Lindsey, and Richard Martinez, culturally proficient coaching intends for the person being coached to be educationally responsive to diverse populations of students. Culturally proficient leaders display personal values and behaviors that enable them and others to engage in effective interactions among students, educators, and the communities they serve. Cultural proficiency coaching is aligned with Cognitive Coaching, and emphasizes participation in professional, collaborative learning communities; a focus on learning and student achievement; working collaboratively to build shared knowledge and deeper understanding for addressing success for every student; and assessing effectiveness based on achievement results. Coaches support principals through guided conversations about effective instructional leadership strategies using four sets of tools: Guiding Principles of Cultural Proficiency, Cultural Proficiency Continuum, Essential Elements of Cultural Competence, and Barriers to Cultural Proficiency.
In 2000, the National Staff Development Council (now known as Learning Forward) launched a successful pilot for 50 principals and superintendents to receive weekly life coaching for 1 year. From this, further Leadership Coaching development looked to recommendations from the International Coach Federation. Coaching is a recognized benefit to business leaders; the same core leadership competencies can also greatly benefit school system leaders. Leadership coaching can strengthen administrators' capacities and abilities to lead change and interact with staff, students and the community. Leadership Coaching focuses on administrators taking action toward realization of their visions, goals or desires, using a process of inquiry and personal discovery to build the coachee's level of awareness and responsibility. Leadership coaching also involves conversations about student learning data, goal setting, and practices. It may involve support during leadership events, walkthroughs of classrooms, classroom observations and analysis of classroom data, or data analysis. Core Competencies focus on creating the coaching relationship, coaching communication skills, and facilitating learning and results.
Transformational coaching involves bringing mental models (values, beliefs, and assumptions about how the world works) to the surface to explore them, and see the impact of the mental model on the educator's life as well as on staff and students. A skilled transformational coach facilitates the creation of new mental models that enable the leader to better serve teachers and students. This is accomplished through deep conversations, listening without judgment, using questioning strategies to help leaders explore their underlying beliefs and attitudes, probing to uncover root causes of an issue, and figuring out what changes are possible and how to make those possibilities a reality. Coaches may also provide the coachee with current research, readings, data analysis tools, and protocols, and connect them with colleagues, experts, and resources. The benefit of this process is that results will not be short-lived if the coachee is dedicated to continuing to transform.