In this #coachbetter episode, we’re kicking off our 4th season of the podcast! Kim and Clint chat about 4 big themes that you’ll find threaded through the episodes this season: moving from defining to refining, personalizing professional learning, creating a thriving coaching culture, and recruitment & managing transitions in the international school world. 

This episode is a real inside look at what we’re thinking about here at Eduro Learning, and the kinds of conversations we’re having with clients in The Coach, Women Who Lead, and our private mentoring packages.

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Show Notes

1: Moving from defining to refining

The power of incremental change

Extensive tool & skill sets teachers are building – more than “just a teacher”

The first one we have been talking about this concept of moving from defining to refining, and I’m adding another piece to that: the power of incremental change. Thinking about professional growth as a whole, and the difference between constantly defining what it is we’re doing versus having the opportunity to refine our skillset and how we move forward, getting better at things. 

Clint, when you think about the power of incremental change, what does that mean to you and how is that important for educators today?

This podcast is a great example of that. You started this with a vision, but over time that vision has changed because our priorities have changed, your priorities have changed. We actually understand what we can and can’t do. What’s important to us. What’s not important to us. We knew that we wanted to have some great conversations when you and I were both at Yokohama. We used to joke about having these podcast conversations, you’ve made that a reality, but I think over time, the vision of what that actually could be in what it is, has changed. So our priorities have changed. we’ve realized what it is that we need to focus on. 

We all have that ability to stop to decide what we want to focus on. As an educator, you are constantly taking stock of what your strengths are, what your challenges are, what you want to continue doing, what you want to start doing. That’s moving from defining to refining. That really is refinement and incremental change. We’re not talking about throwing away everything that you’ve done for the last 15 years as an educator. Although I will say there is a time and place for that as well. 

We used to talk about like, when is it time for evolution and when is it time for revolution at school. I think schools sometimes evolve, but sometimes they need a revolution of thought as well. 

I think for a lot of us, especially coming out of post COVID, especially with a lot of uncertainty, especially, you know, as we’re looking at online learning and face-to-face learning and hybrid learning and all of these things that are going on, we we’ve had that, that period of revolution during those periods of uncertainty. How do we look at all of those great things that we’ve done and pick and choose the things that we want to focus on and create the learning environment or the school environment, the school culture that we really want. 

That concept of Jack of all trades master of none and revolution versus an evolution. I have a tendency and it’s definitely been present in the schools that I have worked at. And with the clients that I work with to think, well, if this piece of this thing isn’t working, maybe we just get rid of the whole thing and start from scratch. And I think there’s so much, I have been realizing over the last year or two, maybe that there’s so much power in these small moves. These small changes, incremental change, but we don’t have to throw the baby out with the bath water. It doesn’t have to always be a revolution. 

It doesn’t always have to be starting from scratch. How do you identify the pieces that are working that you want to stick with so that you can look at the pieces that maybe could use some support and that’s how a coach might help you, or that’s how professional learning might help you get better at whatever it is, is your role in schools instead of throwing everything behind, what are those pieces that you want to pick up and become a master at 

As a practitioner, in my own practice, I can say, I’m going to really focus my own professional growth here. And this is the change I want to make and making it, maybe this has come up a lot because of pandemic times, 

Taking those small changes and making it feel manageable, achievable and in alignment with where you are at the stage of your life right now. How do we make it so that our whole lives are a little more sustainable and not like this massive sprint and then crash, down for the count. Schools feel like that a lot – that’s why we need summer break and semester break. Because we’re just like going, going, going. And so this idea of incremental change, this idea of focusing on an area where you feel this is important and meaningful for me, and I’m going to take a small step forward is a way to build sustainable success and growth. That’s kind of where I’m at. 

That really requires a lot of sort of introspection as an individual, as a professional, right. Nobody really wants to put like plant a stake in the ground, a flag and say, this is who I am. This is what I want to be. This is what I, I believe in. As individuals, as professionals, that’s really important for us to do so that we can then say, this is the goal that I want to achieve. This is the direction that I want to go in. And I think having a coach, having somebody where you can have those conversations with having that, you can just, you know, a mentor, a trusted friend, where you can just talk about things in a very vulnerable, open way and say like, this is, this is where I want to go. 

Having a coach can help you celebrate and help you reflect and help you grow, that’s really important. And then it’s finding priorities: what’s the professional learning that’s going to help me get there. And sometimes it’s organized professional learning. Sometimes it’s organic professional learning, sometimes it’s reaching out to colleagues, sometimes it’s taking a course. it’s finding those things that are really important to you so that you can stay motivated  & stay engaged. 

2: Professional Learning for Educators

Deserve to be engaged in meaningful PD that’s customized to you

Current PD system is just a tick box

Leverage your skills into something more

So that’s like getting into our second theme, which is kind of around professional learning for educators. We’re talking about educators being reflective about what is that next step they want to take and putting yourself at the center of your professional learning. That’s something we do really well at Eduro Learning. We put you the individual at the center of our professional learning opportunities and our certificate programs, The Coach, Women Who Lead and COETAIL and obviously in our private mentoring packages. 

But there is a history or culture of schools providing what I would call one size fits all or tick box PD. Often times school-provided PD is just ticking the box. For example: social and emotional wellness, that’s important cause of pandemic, so let’s tick the box and do one size fits all social, emotional wellness training for everybody. 

As educators, as professionals, it’s our duty to find the professional learning experience that really is meaningful and purposeful for you to that incremental change you want to make because the skills you’re building as an educator go so much farther beyond just the classroom or being just a teacher. 

We can get stuck in poor professional learning environments in our schools, which leads us to stop valuing professional learning as individuals. And to me, that’s such a waste because I see the clients that I work with, the clients who are investing in their professional growth, and I see the progress that they can make. You’re talking about having a coach, having somebody cheer you on, having somebody hold you accountable to the goals that you said, having somebody clarify what your goals actually are, help you clarify what your goals actually are. That is so valuable. 

But the one-size-fits-all PD isn’t the only option.  Quality, humanizing, learner centered PD that puts you at the center of the learning actually it exists. It’s worth investing in. And it’s going to take us to that next step, that next professional growth opportunity that we are looking for. 

I had a client last night, it was on the private mentoring call last night. And I always ask what was the most helpful in our call today for you? She said, hearing you paraphrase what I said helped me recognize what I really think. And how many times do you get the opportunity to do that Like whether it’s with a coach in your school, working with me and our private mentoring packages of joining one of our certificate programs, working with a colleague, working with a mentor in your school setting, having that opportunity to really thoughtfully reflect on where you want to grow. Are we, are you investing in that experience because your school might not offer it for you as part of the regular school PD 

I do think, a lot of times that professional learning at schools is often very one-size-fits-all. Sometimes it has to be just to ensure that everybody is at that same level, especially at the beginning, you needed to give the same message to everybody. So that we’re all on the same page. and then what’s the next step. What they need, and often miss is that symbiotic relationship between the mentor and the mentee, even in the same department to personalize the learning.

Coaching is the key to sustainable change in schools. Coaching is the opportunity to personalize any one size fits all, any consistent messaging, any school-wide vision, mission mandate kind of conversations that we’re having. Coaching is the opportunity to personalize those conversations and to help each individual or each team move from whatever that one size fits all piece was to the personalized. 

I hope that anyone who listens to this, anyone who works with teachers, this is the mindset shift that we’re looking for in schools. The mindset shift to coaching is valuable. I deserve to be coached. I want to be coached so that we’re building that growth minded culture that we kind of want to see in schools. 

Coaching allows me to focus on me for a little bit: I get to think about me and I get somebody asking questions about me and everybody loves to talk about themselves. Everybody likes to dive deep and like really have some really have that feedback. 

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Show Notes continued…

3: Starting the Year

Knowing how your school is ready for coaching

Aligning the school priorities & your priorities

Being ready to coach / new to coaching

That totally gets to our third theme that we wanted to talk about today, which is assessing your school’s readiness for coaching and your own readiness to be a coach. Aligning those school priorities with individual’s priority, so we can have that professional growth. 

When we’re thinking about trying to build that coaching culture that is meaningful and engaging and valued by staff, we also have to look at the school’s readiness for creating that kind of environment. 

There are some additional considerations to think about whether or not that community is ready for coaching, because that structure is very hierarchical, very top down, very traditional. And having only that may not be like that healthy growing environment for bringing coaching to your school. I don’t know if I explained that well, so you, you say something and then I’ll know. 

Top down PD is about meeting the school’s needs, focusing accreditation or curriculum alignment, and that it’s an important aspect of it developing the school’s capacity.

Beyond that, what can you do individually to make sure that you are content and fulfilled as an individual so that you are happy so that you are engaged so that you excited? That’s what coaching is about.  Do you have the right people in those positions who are going to continue to entice people to have that drive to grow, we all have that drive in us innately. sometimes we feel like it gets, overcrowded or pushed out because of all of these other priorities that are, are pushed upon you.. 

It’s really about the people who are designing and delivering that professional learning. How are you intentionally allowing people to process that information in their own way so that it does become something that they might decide to learn a little bit more. 

How we can plan intentionally to make room for conversations and make room for discussions and make room for reflection, because it’s when you connect what you’re talking about with your own personal experience, we know this as educators, when you can connect it to what you’ve gone through and, and make that learning real is when it’s most valuable for you and when it makes the most impact. And so I really liked that idea of like intentional time for things that are meaningful and, and really gonna move the school forward. 

4: Recruiting / Future

Int’l school landscape post covid

Recruiting season

We have a final topic: we were talking about looking at recruiting, looking at the future, looking at the international school landscape, post COVID and kind of what recruiting has been like. Right before we started recording we were talking about so many teachers leaving China, but not being able to get into China and what that might make that recruiting landscape look like because those jobs are open, but they’re, it’s hard for them to be filled by candidates outside of China. 

It seems to be getting a little bit easier. especially if you’re going to a very reputable international school who has the HR department and the contacts that every school needs to have in China in order to get those, those visas for their incoming teachers. I know that there are teachers who are new to China and they are able to get in and go through quarantine and they’re on the ground ready to start the school year. 

Not only just the physical movement of people and the restriction of the getting visas and getting into countries, but the level of connection we can have. On an upcoming episode about recruiting, one of the guests talked about applying for lots of jobs, because it’s so much easier to have those conversations now than maybe it used to be. And it can be really eye-opening to have more conversations then really just kind of narrow down your search to like this specific thing. 

The whole recruiting landscape has changed, deadlines have changed, timelines have changed. They’re moving it earlier and earlier, and that is gonna change the dynamics of a lot of things. 

So I’ll be curious to know how many people are going through like online orientation programs, how many people are doing, you know, asynchronous, new hire orientation stuff, and what does that mean about their face to face orientation stuff. 

I think recruiting is so stressful already, you know, having somebody in your corner, who’s ready to help you analyze and articulate exactly what it is you need and what you want from your next school and help you see what’s going to be the best fit for you, helping you recognize that for yourself, going through the process. How are you leaning on someone essentially to help you kind of get through that process And that is what I do in private mentoring packages. So I do want to mention that if you are a person who’s considering recruiting this year, that is something I can do to support you, help you kind of guide you through that process and help you articulate your leadership skills, your excellence, your abilities, all the things that are great about you in a way that schools are going to really understand why it’d be such an asset to their community. Because I think educators in general, struggle to articulate our strengths in general. And especially when we’re transitioning into a role that has any leadership capacity. If we haven’t had that before, haven’t been in that role before how to describe that, how to say that, how to make that transparent to someone who’s looking for these very specific things. That’s something that really helps to have guidance through. 

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