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Desert Highway
Thoughtful writing authored and shared by members of of the Thinking Collaborative community to support others on the journey.

Sustaining the Journey

What Messages are You Sending about Helping?

Authored By:

Thinking Collaborative


June 08, 2015

We have defined helping as giving. That is, giving ideas, advice, resources, comfort and strategies. When we shift to engaging in dialogue, inquiry, and coaching, we redefine “helping” and create a new dynamic in our relationships. This applies to almost every relationship in our lives.

Recently a supervisor of coaches sent some insights from instructional coaches who had worked for two years to really shift to a coaching identity. They are telling reminders to us all about the choices we make and the subtle yet powerful impact we have without even being aware at times.

“I realize I assumed that teachers couldn’t do things and so just started telling them how to do it, when what I needed to do was take a few minutes to listen to them and figure out where they were so I knew how to support them.”

Another coach told me that over the course she’s focused on listening more to teachers and not judging them, and she’s noticed that teachers now come to her for support and help rather than how they used to avoid her - she recognizes now that what she used to consider “helping” was really just sending the message, “You’re not doing this right and I don’t approve, so do it this way.”

How does the culture of your school define helping for students, teachers, and others? What are the effects of the ways of working in terms of long-term growth and genuine engagement in learning? How might you raise awareness of the assumptions about helping?

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