Observing Without Judging

I’ve been in a coaching role for a few years now, and far from thinking that I have it down, I realize that there is much that I still have to learn. I love coaching. I love researching new ideas, I love collaborating, I love helping solve problems. I love being bossy, which is my coaching downfall. A good coach is not supposed to be bossy. Worse than being bossy though, I’ve begun to see myself as a bit on the wrong side of the judgmental line.

I don’t walk into classrooms thinking that I can do it better. I’m not judging the teachers themselves, I’m of the mindset that everyone is doing their solid best and usually more than that. What I mean is that my mind jumps to the next step in the learning progression. You are doing small groups? Let’s do flexible small groups. Doing that? Now let’s flip small groups. Flipping them? Let’s try student defined groups…etc., etc. I don’t think that what the teachers are doing is wrong, but in my big idea brain, I want to help them make it better. Tweak it to be even more amazing.

The end result? I railroad the people I’m supposed to be helping. Mistakenly, sometimes I think that people think I know more than them, that I’m an expert {gasp!!!}, and they want to do better and reach more students, and so they want to try my ideas. I’m imposing my ideas on them without provocation. Most of the time I’m suggesting ideas without knowing their class and their goals. I don’t mean to be pushy or bossy, but I know that I am perceived as such. 🙂 I truly want to collaborate and work with my teachers, not make them feel like they aren’t doing enough or moving fast enough.

In noticing this about myself, and in reflection on this slight case of judgmentitis, I’ve realized that it goes back to relationships. Just like we need to cultivate a classroom culture of trust and caring for our students to be successful, so too do I need to cultivate that with the teachers I serve. I need to spend time letting them know that I love them and their ideas, and want to help them reach their goals, not help them reach my goals. Then, when the time is right, I can swoop in and impose my will! Wait…no. I can start making educated suggestions when asked. 😉

I’ve started this journey. After an observation I don’t start the conversation with, “I loved that thing you do, but if you added this other thing it would be awesome!” I watch to learn, not to suggest, and then ask questions to lead to reflection. I can honestly say that the experience is freeing. I don’t have to feel like I am going to be put on the spot to come up with a laundry list of ideas, and I get to enjoy just being in the classroom. Coaching isn’t about the next big thing. It is truly about serving others and helping them along their journey.

I’d love to hear about your coaching journey. I think we are all coaches in one way or another! Feel free to share, I look forward to hearing from you.