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Does Your Professional Learning Community Have a Coaching Culture?

If your PLC is endeavoring to go beyond data analysis to deep collaboration that has an impact on student learning, establishing a coaching culture creates the necessary trust. What is a coaching culture? Here are some key markers, available as a handout at the Solution Tree site for my book Creating a Coaching Culture for Professional Learning Communities. Which apply to your team?

  • Members welcome diversity as a tool for making better decisions and use a common framework to communicate more clearly and understand other viewpoints
  • Members can ask questions, share beliefs, challenge ideas, and disagree with each other as part of their mutual commitment to adult learning and improved student achievement;
  • Sharing examples of what did not go well in classrooms is as natural as sharing what went well
  • Teams take time to debate and define problems before deciding how to solve them. Members know how to reach consensus
  • Conflict becomes a source of renewal––members know how to handle it and use it as a context for learning and for laying aside opinions for knowledge
  • Members are willing to admit when they do not know the answers––only then can PLCs recognize when they need outside assistance to help all students achieve
  • Members welcome being held accountable to use what they learned and share student results with the team
  •  Members recognize and respect that there may be many paths to the same end, but they are willing to sacrifice individuality if it interferes with the needs of the group

From Kise and Russell, Creating a Coaching Culture for Professional Learning Communities (Solution Tree, 2010), p. 23.

If you aren’t there yet, know that building this culture is a process that may take 3-5 years, depending on where you begin. Great PLCs don’t form overnight. Look through these markers. Choose the one that might help you make the biggest improvements in deep collaboration, and work to embed it within your team.

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Jane Kise

Jane Kise is a consultant and executive coach. The founder of Differentiated Coaching Associates and author of over 20 books, she works with schools and businesses worldwide to help create environments where everyone can flourish.

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