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We're all on the Same Team: A School Counselor's Perspective with Adam Clark


In this episode, we’re chatting with Adam Clark, Secondary School Counselor at Yokohama International School in Japan. 

Bonus: Watch the video of this episode on YouTube!

Featured Guest(s)

Adam Clark

Adam Clark on twitter

Show Notes

Adam highlights the importance of building an open and collaborative school culture where teachers, coaches, students, and leaders all feel safe enough to be vulnerable in their individual learning journeys. As Adam describes, coaching and counseling have lots of natural overlap, so there are lots of great opportunities for coaches to collaborate with their school counselors. Clint and I were fortunate to both work with Adam at YIS, and we learned a lot in our time together, this episode includes some great highlights!


What do you think coaches do?

Element of overlap in approach between counselors and coaches. They both look at the individual and think about what the area of need for growth, what strengths do they have to move forward. Coach looks at this from teaching and learning side, Counselors look at it from the health and wellness side.

How do you work with the coaches at your school?

On a personal level: support for technology needs, like project management tools – personal needs, connected to technology, that will hopefully help me do my job better

On a professional level: to help support our community in whatever area applies – there’s always a tech component, including parenting workshops, social-emotional health of students related to technology

What are some good opportunities for coaches to work with you?

I appreciate hearing and knowing more about the cutting edge of what’s happening in technology, without having to develop that full area of expertise myself.

What do you do when you don’t have the opportunity to work with a coach?

There are so many different ways of leveraging/accessing information, so I can other places: personal research, personal learning network (Twitter, FB), face to face colleagues.

What are the essential elements for coaching success in a school? What’s needed to build a coaching culture?

Feeling of safety and permission to be vulnerable with your colleagues. We’re paid to be experts, but we’re also paid to be learners. If you can be vulnerable to be able to learn, that’s the most valuable aspect of school culture. Making it ok to say “I don’t know”. Sense of community and familiarity of what people are doing. Colleagues know what are you on the edge of learning about yourself – so people know how to connect with each other. Openness and humor. Humor makes learning fun, exploring together and having fun.

Where do coaches / does coaching fail? And what can we do about it?

If we lose the spirit of inquiry. If it seems like coaches are “the answer people”, that’s when it goes wrong. Being vulnerable about what we know and don’t know – and setting up the dynamic that it’s ok to not know is how you solve that problem.

What makes a coach invaluable to you?

Home-court advantage: proximity: if they’re available and responsive to the needs at the time, they’re invaluable. Assume they’re competent and good people have been hired, so after that, it’s the soft skills, personality, etc. If the coach is difficult to work with, or they don’t want to work with me, or it appears that my request is a burden, I’ll go elsewhere, and tell others that it’s not helping me to do my job to work with the coach. The response to a request is critical. Availability and responsiveness.

What was your “aha” moment that shifted your perspective from not caring about coaching to being on board?

When people show up at the school that have this passion and energy around this topic, it’s contagious.

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