BUILDING YOUR INQUIRY LEADERSHIP THROUGH INQUIRY COACHES
The Inquiry Leaders Ladder to Inquiry Coach
Building the skills and capabilities to be a visionary inquiry coach doesn't happen overnight. When it does it's the result of a cumulative focus by inquiry leaders across the organisation.
So let's have a look at those inquiry leaders through the lens of their inquiry coach practice.
Imagine a ladder, and like most ladders, we start our journey at the bottom.
The key value of this model is the ability of an inquiry coach to have an open dialogic conversation with the teachers they are coaching. These coaching sessions will lead to professional growth and forward thinking visionary actions by the teachers being coached.
You will find in your school, a continuum of practice and capability around inquiry coaching and coaching conversation. The value at each stage of inquiry engagement and capability will lead to varied impacts on students learning.
Inquiry coaches are responsible for the building of the capacity of staff to plan and carry out deep and relevant teacher inquiries. They do this through coaching dialogue and facilitation of the connections between the teacher inquiry and the data - pre and post inquiry.
Coaching dialogue is purposeful ongoing one to one dialogue for the purpose of developing skills and performance and enhancing potential. It is distinctly different from performance assessment because it focuses on encouraging, motivating and guiding to achieve higher goals.
The inquiry is evidence-driven, but will only generate great evidence when it is well planned and supported. An inquiry coach is like the gardener who tends his crops - nurtures the garden and prepares the soil in order to reap a great crop
Skills and Dispositions
The underpinning skill to support inquiry leadership/coaching is the ability to build relational trust with staff. Inquiry coaches actions - communication, capability and integrity - must be such that it builds relational trust. When inquiry coaches demonstrate integrity, clear intentions and capability, trust develops and they are able to work more effectively.
Inquiry leadership requires inquiry coaches who have the capacity to relate to staff and build relational trust, Therefore, shift the relationship with staff from a supervisory focused relationship to a coaching focused relationship. Because of this, the best inquiry coaches are not necessarily the HoD or Head of syndicates. The success of an inquiry coach centrally hinges on trust, trust is like a piece of paper, once it's crumpled, it can never be perfect again. It is vital that great inquiry coaches are able to build relational trust between themselves and their staff.
Inquiry leadership requires inquiry coaches who are competent communicators. Inquiry coaches who have competency around collegial dialogue and coaching conversations so that they are able to facilitate collegial dialogue. Rich and relevant coaching dialogue are more than just sharing ideas. Meaningful collegial dialogue is about critiquing, questioning, understanding and exploring new ideas.
Inquiry coaches need the skill set to:
- Frame up rich and relevant coaching conversations with the support of adaptive mentoring theories
- Participate inquiring dialogue.
Inquiry leadership requires inquiry coaches who are competent inquirers. Inquiry leadership requires inquiry coaches to be competent with the chosen inquiry process. They must be able to support staff in the design and action phases of the inquiry process and support the connections made between the inquiry process and the data links, and who are competent with the analysis and use of data to explore the connections between teaching actions and student outcomes. - the connection between data and evidence.
The Recommended Approach and Investment
We can help your school to develop competent inquiry coaches and improve inquiry leadership. This requires moving the relationship between leader and teacher - from supervisory to coaching…. and that’s exactly what we’ll achieve together.
Traditional one-day PD events and bolted on workshops make little difference to real school improvement. We like to form partnerships - as a critical friend to your inquiry leaders over 12 months to help your school make changes stick via:
Bespoke Coaching with Tabitha will help leaders to:
Supporting inquiry design - Framing up questions that dig deep into an inquiry project
Framing up Coaching Conversations - How to conduct inquiry supportive dialogue with teachers
- Shifting dialogue from sharing information to actively inquiring - How to be actively inquiring, critiquing and engaging in each other’s learning and work through collegial dialogue.
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