The art of coaching a teaching candidate can be quite complex when we look through the different perspectives of the stakeholders they impact. These stakeholders include students, parents, and administrators, but there are inevitably additional individuals with whom they interact in the larger school community. How we choose to provide feedback and when to provide it can be challenging; Not only do we want to ensure our candidates are prepared for the field they are about to enter but we want them to have been an active part of the reflection process. Our choices as coaches need to facilitate thoughtful discussions as well as guide them to a higher level of inquiry as they are thinking about their own professional work.
A critical piece of information before beginning a coaching relationship is to determine a candidiate’s “way of knowing.” Knowing where they are developmentally helps us determine the type of feedback and support we provide. Depending on their primary ways of understanding themselves within a school and their concerns or challenges, our feedback as mentor teachers and coaches can be quite different. If we provide feedback they are not ready to hear in their current construction of their professional self, our role as a coach is not going to be very effective. Recognizing this in each teacher candidate and planning our course of action according to their developmental needs should be a priority. As we work with our candidate, their way of knowing will grow and evolve as should the type of feedback and challenges we provide them.
Elena Aguilar talks about transformational coaching. This type of coaching is directed at three domains and affects three areas or stakeholders. The first and most impacted in our teacher education program is the teacher-in-training. Aguilar says that transformational coaching will change their behaviors, beliefs and even their being. The next area she discusses is the institutions and systems in which we work. The final area that is impacted by this type of coaching is the broader educational and social systems in which we live. All of these moving parts need to be closely examined while a planning our mentoring sessions and creating the goals we will work on with our teacher candidate. As we, mentor teachers who work in these institutions and schooling systems, have grown through the mentor teacher training course, we gained new understandings of coaching, mentoring, and the impact we can have. By working with future teachers, I feel like we have learned more information than can be experienced solely in a class or by reading books. As future teachers learned to impact preK-12 students in their placements, we concurrently learned to enact the “art of coaching” in our direct work with Curry teacher candidates.