The Coaching Letter is written by Center staff member Isobel Stevenson, who has extensive experience as both a leader and a coach. The Coaching Letter’s perspective is that leaders could be a bit more successful if they thought and acted more like coaches, and coaches could be a bit more successful if they thought and acted more like leaders. Isobel draws on research and theory in organizational development, cognitive psychology, and behavioral economics, as well as her own experience, to suggest to leaders and coaches ways to think about their work that push them a little bit beyond their current mental models. The Coaching Letter is rich, thoughtful, personal, and funny.
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Good morning! I find it interesting that the one thing I get asked about the most is adult learning. It is also the hardest thing for me to respond to, because the field is so vast and there are so many approaches. So tackling adult learning as a discrete topic in a Coaching Letter is daunting. Not to mention: there are recipients of this Coaching Letter who know an awful lot more about the field than I do. […]
Today is Day One of the Center’s fourth annual Equity Institute, which I have written about (and tweeted about—check out #equitableclassrooms) before. Our approach to talking about equity is to use the power of story and the power of art to take people into a third space where it is possible to have deep conversations about the meaning, impact, and obligations of inequity, and the power we have to propel us towards equitable schools and classrooms. We […]
I hope you’re doing well. In my part of New England we are at the peak of fall, and it’s gorgeous outside. This Coaching Letter is about communication, because it’s been a theme in the work I’ve been doing with several districts lately. Leadership teams have a lot of figuring out to do, a lot of meaning making for themselves, and so it’s another layer of cognitive challenge to think about what others need to know. But it’s […]
This Coaching Letter is about framing. I’ve been doing a lot of dog-walking lately, so I’ve been listening to more podcasts. This morning it was #64 of The Knowledge Project, and Greg Walton was being interviewed. He is a Stanford psychologist; I know of his work, and think of it as being about small interventions that make a big difference, but in this podcast he started off by talking about how he came to be interested in […]
This Coaching Letter, like so many others, is about change.
Nicholas Taleb is one of my favorite writers. I don’t imagine I would find him easy to like–I can’t think of anyone else so unabashedly arrogant– but the ideas he writes about are always intriguing and sometimes a little overwhelming. I think everyone should read Black Swan, but Antifragile is hard going and I read it like I read the Bible, a few sentences at a time, and then […]
Friends, I know it has been a couple of weeks since the last Coaching Letter, but I’ve been really busy and this one took quite a lot of time to pull together. My colleague Richard Lemons wrote a recent blog post about the idea that it is better to implement a mediocre strategy than to implement a “perfect” strategy half-heartedly. You should read it. This Coaching Letter is a kind of follow-up to that blog post, because […]
Good evening. I hope you are well, and that those of you in education are off to a good start to the school year. I spent most of today coaching principals, and Wednesday is the first day of the Center’s Coaching Institute, so coaching has been on my mind a lot lately, obviously. I’m going to pick one aspect of coaching to talk about that I think is misunderstood and doesn’t get enough attention, and is applicable to […]
This Coaching Letter is about mental models. Karl Weick’s book Sensemaking in Organizations opens with a chronology of the codification of battered child syndrome (BCS). It was a radiologist who first published a paper about injuries in children, revealed by X-rays, that were not adequately explained by their parents. The author suggested that intentional abuse was possible. This was in 1946. More articles were published in the 50s, adding up to a couple of dozen cases. Then in […]
Hi, I hope you are doing well. I see on Twitter that a lot of schools and districts are holding retreats and meetings to talk about goals and write plans for the year. So here is a collection of resources to help think about that.
I know from my work with educators in multiple roles that they frequently get the message from their supervisors that the goals matter more than other parts of their plans. For example, I have […]
Thank you for the feedback on the last Coaching Letter, about white privilege, I am glad so many people found it helpful. Of course, when I wrote it, I had no way of knowing that one of my fellow citizens would drive for 10 hours across Texas to kill “Mexicans” peaceably going about their business in a Walmart in El Paso. Judging by the content on my social media feeds, “white privilege” became, all of a sudden, […]