My colleague, Rachel and I just met to discuss her goals for our coaching session. As we got to talking she shared that she had little time to produce on her goals from our last peer coaching session; I could feel her anxiety drop when I asked if she would like to spend our sessions creating as opposed to just talking about the ideal solutions. As I felt her tension drop our collaboration became real and focused on her goals instead of a list of ‘shoulds’; to me, this exemplifies the heart of trust within a peer-coaching relationship.
Figure 5.1 Fetter, 2017) elaborates on the importance of comfort within communication and collaboration during peer coaching. Rachel has admitted that she needs a partner to support her creation of rubric and observation plan for her fellow advisors based on her new job. When Rachel moves past the comfort level she is able to think through what she knows to be ‘good advising’ skillsets to create a system of self-evaluation for others within her team. Rachel is able to identify the best practices that can support other teammates as they grow into their positions. I feel fortunate to work with a peer who will also have an opportunity to coach others on our team
“Peer coaching reduces isolation by providing the professional dialogue that encourages teachers to generate solutions to their own problems”(Chaudhry. A, Sivakamasundari, B. pp. 203). During our last session, Rachel was able to articulate how she wanted our communication to continue in our sessions. When we started talking about what communication styles Rachel felt would support her growth she specifically asked for suggestions for best practice. I took a risk and shared that our conversations should be about her needs and not my past experiences, Rachel took a risk and shared that she learns best through other’s past experiences and followed the statement by asking to be pushed to utilize technology to support her work and that of her team.
Rachel is able to communicate her needs and knows that my best intentions lay in her goals, Rachel is willing to try new technology because she knows I will listen to HER needs; listening to these needs is what makes peer-coaching dynamic and successful. Rachel and I are not just Knowledge Sharing as Chaudhry discusses, we are building a foundation of support within a work environment that I hope we will both be able to grow within.
“successful Peer Coaches don’t push for one big, dramatic change, instead relying on an incremental process of continuous improvement. These successful coaches insist that effective coaching requires an understanding of what people need, when they can do more and when they simply can’t. In addition to keeping the workload manageable for their peers, successful coaches are careful to ensure that they aren’t pushing their learning partners too far beyond the comfort level. This careful reading of their learning partners’ needs encourages many coaches to work toward small changes and continuous improvement”(Foltos, L. pp. 67).
As I get ‘REAL’ I see how Rachel needs the workload to be manageable to her standard, how she is excited for improvement but we cannot move forward if she feels pushed; when someone feels pushed maybe they are REALLY saying, “Hey, did you hear what I said, are you listening to me?”. Rachel and I are okay with difficult conversations. She wants to use tools she hasn’t used before, she sees the value in intentionally focusing on the goal for her team while maximizing time and voice of colleagues. Together we may have some moments of discomfort, however, if we continue to value the other and build on our trust in the end I know we will have a dynamic product of self-assessment and a relationship that we can count on for projects to come.
Chaudhry, A. S., Sivakamasundari, B.Perceptions of Teachers About Knowledge Sharing in Schools. Innovations Through Information Technology: 2004 Information Resources Management Association International Conference, New Orleans, Louisiana, USA, May 23-26, 2004: 201
Foltos, L. (2013). Peer Coaching : Unlocking the Power of Collaboration. Thousand Oaks, California: Corwin.