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  • Writer's pictureDr. Sue Chapman

“Coach” is a Verb: A Learning Leader’s Guide to Building Capacity in Others

Updated: Mar 30

A Monthly Blog Series to Help Educators Grow Essential Coaching Skills

Post 1: An Invitation to Try On a Coaching Identity

Go ahead. Take it off the hanger and try it on. Does it fit your goals? Does it suit your role in the education world? Does it flatter you? Yes, yes, and yes! Coaching is an efficacious tool for supporting learning. It fits beautifully in any learning organization, with any learning focus, and for learners of any age. It is well suited to all education-related job titles (teacher, librarian, dean of instruction, principal, coordinator, director, superintendent, …) and to any setting (school or central office). It is extremely flattering on you, revealing your natural leadership abilities and your genuine concern for others.

Don’t worry if you’re not yet sure whether “it’s your style.” Perhaps you’re trying out a new style; exploring who you really are, who you can be and want to be. As you wear your coaching identity in different contexts, you’ll have the chance to observe its impact. I’m confident you’ll decide that your coaching disposition compliments and heightens your other strengths. You’ll exclaim, “This is so me!”

Looking down on a clothing store table with accessories and clothes rack.

This first post in the blog series “Coach” is a Verb: A Learning Leader’s Guide to Building Capacity in Others kicks off a monthly exploration of “coaching for non-coaches,” a conversation (two-way, I hope) about how educators with job titles that don’t include the word “coach” can use coaching knowledge, skills, and dispositions to be more effective in their roles. In each post, you’ll find a simple Reflection and Learning Goal tool related to the post’s focus and an easy Try It Out exercise designed to be incorporated into your regular daily activities.

As a result of engaging with the “Coach” is a Verb monthly blog series, you will be able to:

  • Articulate how you are activating strengths and elevating learning in teachers and students through coaching.

  • Self-assess your knowledge, attitudes, skills, aspirations, and behaviors (KASAB) related to coaching. Set incremental but impactful growth goals and monitor your progress toward achieving these goals.

  • Integrate coaching moves and habits of thinking into your daily routines and interactions with others.

White blouse on a rack in closet

Let’s get started.

Join me in thinking about the idea of trying on a coaching identity.

First, consider the following:

Reflection – Do you consider yourself a coach? Why or why not? What does “coaching” mean to you? How does the purpose of coaching align with your personal values and beliefs?

Learning Goal – Complete this statement: Regarding coaching, one thing I want to learn more about is…

Graphic of t-shirt hanging on a clothes line.

Reflection - My reasons for choosing to don a coaching identity:

  1. Coaching is a communication style that aligns with my core beliefs:

    • Every human being has unlimited and unknowable potential.

    • My purpose in life is to make the best use possible of my own potential and to support others in doing the same.

  2. Coaching works! I have lots of personal first-hand evidence that coaching promotes growth and well-being in adults and children, colleagues, family members, and in myself. There’s also an impressive research base of evidence in support of coaching.

  3. Coaching is fun and satisfying. It stretches me and helps me to grow. It makes me feel alive and more fully human.

Learning Goal - I personally want to learn more about how to encourage teachers to see themselves as classroom coaches and know that they can use coaching moves to help students develop their personal resourcefulness. I’d also like to learn more about how to infuse coaching-type interactions into the norms of a school community and other learning organizations.

Next, here’s an exercise to help you apply these ideas to your work context.

Try It Out

Think about a favorite piece of clothing. Perhaps it’s an old sweater that’s past its prime but so comfortable you can’t bear to part with it. Maybe it’s a T-shirt that holds a precious memory or a fancy outfit you love to wear because it makes you feel special.

Now think about a person you support as a learner (a teacher, a student, a leader). Imagine looking forward to a learning conversation with this person in the same way you look forward to putting on your favorite piece of clothing.

  • What knowledge, attitudes, skills, aspirations, and behaviors would you need to feel fully joyful and comfortable about this upcoming conversation in support of the other person’s learning?

  • What would you like to learn about coaching so that a coaching identity feels like a well-loved piece of clothing?

Learning is always strengthened and more fun when it takes place in community. So, I’m hoping that we can have some Twitter conversations in between monthly posts about what you’re trying and how it’s going. Let’s try the following learning routine:

  • Each month I’ll post a brief learning prompt related to the topic of that month’s blog, including the link to the blog so others can easily hop into our conversation.

  • Please consider engaging with this Tweet to support your own and others’ learning:

    • Follow me on Twitter: @SueChapmanLearn. If you’re not already following @LearnTexas, you’ll want to do that as well.

    • When you can, respond to my monthly Twitter learning prompt.

    • Retweet-Quote Tweet so that your followers can read the blog and participate in our Twitter conversation.

    • Read others’ responses to broaden your perspective and deepen your understandings about coaching.

I look forward to learning with you. Sue

Sue Chapman is a professional learning consultant and author of MathVentures: 33 Teacher-Coach Investigations to Grow Students as Mathematicians. Connect with Sue at and on Twitter at @SueChapmanLearn.

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