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The Holidays with Jim Knight

Instructional Coaching

I was first introduced to the coaching world in 2019, where I attended a Growth Coaching International Conference in Sydney, Australia. The keynote speaker at that conference, was renowned Instructional Coach, and one of my educational idols, Jim Knight. Over a few days it became clear to me that my leadership was never going to be the same, and neither was the way I interacted with colleagues, and people in general. From there, I read Jim’s books “Better Conversations” and “Instructional Coaching”, and I was completely changed, as a leader and as a person. I realised that I had been coached several times in my teaching career, without even knowing it, by two of the most influential people who transformed my teaching practice, Karen and Miranda.

During the first week of the Victorian September school holidays, I had the privilege of attending the Growth Coaching International Conference, where Jim Knight shared invaluable insights on instructional coaching and

the importance of building meaningful relationships. What I loved most about this experience was the inclusivity of the conference, and being able to hear from and share stories with educators from all walks of life, from a range of sectors, and from varying schools across Australia.

My ‘zone of genius’ lies when I’m collaborating with like-minded people, when I’m aligned to their values and when we can form common ground to build a trusting connection- exactly what I spent an entire week doing. Sometimes when searching for common ground, it’s directly in front of you, literally.

When you dress (coincidentally) the same way as your coaching idol.

Who wore it better?!

Key Takeaways:

  • Equality is about seeing the value in everyone; everyone has something to offer

  • Conversations are meant to be ‘life-giving’

  • Empathy is demonstrated through having an emotional AND a cognitive understanding

  • Emotional connection (for students and teachers) is critical to engagement...then achievement

  • ‘The Impact Cycle’ is a structure framework used during coaching conversations and coaching cycles

  • Instructional Coaching for achievement requires a learning-friendly culture, power with and not power over (control), freedom from within (structure), teacher expectations and being a witness to the good (balancing positive and negative interactions with students)

  • Effective essential questioning, thinking prompts and stories are cognitive and emotional teaching strategies

  • There are levels of learning: knowledge, skills and big ideas/concepts

  • There's kinds of learning: acquisition, connection and transfer

  • Connections are invitational which can be turned AWAY, turned AGAINST OR turned TOWARDS (Gottman)

  • Partnership approaches are effective for transforming student outcomes

  • Coaching conversations fluctuate between facilitative coaching and dialogical coaching

  • Assessment is pivotal to check for understanding- from the coachee and the students

  • Celebrate the successes of the coachee, and affirm their efforts and achievements the zone of learning and achievement takes place when there’s high accountability and high physiological safety (Edmondson)

  • Student engagement underpins learning outcomes

  • Engagement (data) comes in different forms: behavioural, cognitive and emotional

Five days of intensive learning might not sound like the ideal way to spend a school holiday, but for a group of committed, eager, and forward-thinking educators, it was an opportunity to grow both personally and professionally. The conference, organised by Growth Coaching International, with Chris Munro and Daniel Steele, in collaboration with the Victorian Academy of Teaching and Leadership, brought Jim Knight to Australia to share his valuable wisdom and exceptional expertise.

What do you think...are conferences an opportunity to learn, network and grow?

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