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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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, […]
I am so fascinated by the latest storm over “go back where you came from.” The New York Times asked people who have had that said to them to tell their stories, and got over 16,000 responses. Sixteen thousand! Most of these are the stories of people who were born here, and yet there are others who believe themselves entitled to tell fellow citizens to leave their country, sometimes because they disagree over ideas, but sometimes (as […]
Hello, I hope your summer is going swimmingly. As I write this, outside it looks as though it is cool and misty, because it’s overcast and raining, but in fact I know it’s 95 degrees and appallingly humid. I am dreading having to go out.
I have been working on several coaching letters—one about asking why and the power of asking about intention, one about white privilege, one about trust, etc.—and then it hit me that the next Coaching […]
Beginning of July already, can you believe it? I feel like spring break was just a couple of weeks ago. At the same time, it’s only two weeks since we were getting to start HQI Live in Milford, and that seems like a very long time ago—so much has happened since then. The Strategy Workshop was at the tail end of last week, and that was very fun, although also jam-packed with information, and we still didn’t have […]
Friends, I hope this finds you well. I feel like I am stealing a few moments between the end of HQI Live in Milford yesterday and the Strategy Workshop at Connecticut College next week—an intense couple of weeks! But I wanted to write about the similarities between the two, partly for my own benefit as I think through some of these ideas, and partly because I think these are ideas that you can make use of. And, in […]
Today is the first day of a very ambitious adult learning experience in Milford. There are 70 people here at Foran High School today—two teachers from each school, and all the building and central office administrators. We are here in preparation for the really ambitious part, which happens next week. Two teachers are going to teach two classes of rising 5th and 6th graders math, and the 70 adults who are here today are going to watch. Then […]
This Coaching Letter is about Coaching! I think a lot about coaches and teacher leaders, and how to leverage them better. These educators tend to be really strong teachers who also have other great qualities—they are hard-working, reliable, committed to student success, committed to their own improvement, credible to their colleagues, and have good people skills. One of the things that has become increasingly clear to me over the last few years is that we ask […]
Not too late to sign up for our Reading for Leading Soiree next week. Here’s the link. I chose Amy Edmondson’s book, The Fearless Organization, because of several experiences I had last year working with principals and other relatively junior educational leaders who believed that they had been given the message by senior leaders in their organizations that their feedback was not welcome. Actually, I would put it more strongly than that. They had received […]