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Association of California School Administrators
Association of California School Administrators
Evocative coaching uses the L.E.A.D. approach to inspire
May 3, 2021
ACSA is helping educational leaders evoke greatness in other school leaders through ACSA Leadership Coaching.
ACSA Leadership Coaching is a series of workshops designed to teach experienced school and district leaders how to provide job-embedded coaching to school administrators. This year, this professional development experience will be an online interactive workshop held over 12 hours (three days).
While ACSA Leadership Coaching is required for anyone who is coaching candidates in the ACSA Clear Administrative Credential Program, the program is also beneficial to anyone who is responsible for the development of education leaders, including:
  • Coaches of beginning and experienced school administrators.
  • Coaches serving in school leadership training programs and Administrative Services Credential programs.
  • Instructors in educational administration pre-service programs.
  • District leaders responsible for improving the capacity of site leaders.
  • Individuals responsible for the design and implementation of professional development programs for district, school and teacher leaders.
  • Coaches of teacher leaders.
Leadership coaching is about promoting a growth-fostering relationship between the coach and the leader to bring about transformational change.
It’s about shifting the focus of a problem-solving, “fix it” mentality to one of identifying strengths, exploring possibilities and designing a new way of being and doing.
The program uses the Evocative Coaching model, which was developed by Bob and Megan Tschannen-Moran. Evocative Coaching uses a person-centered, no fault, strengths-based approach to move people toward their desired destination. When coaches trust and practice the four movements in Evocative Coaching, they increase their ability to make significant contributions to the professional development of teachers and leaders and to the learning climate of schools. There are four movements in Evocative Coaching, which are centered on the acronym L.E.A.D.:
L — Listen to their story
Listening enables our coachees to feel heard. Listening is one of the most difficult behaviors to master in coaching because of our experiences. We fall into the trap of wanting to tell our own stories and to tell our coachees how to embrace their challenges, solve their problems and transform their schools or districts. We put on our “fix it” hat because we have walked a mile in their shoes.
When we listen to a person’s story mindfully, quietly and reflectively, we demonstrate our caring. We reinforce that we are coaching the whole person, and not the project, the task or the behavior change.
E — Express empathy
As coaches, we don’t try to correct the way in which our coachee is speaking about their experience, but we offer what in Evocative Coaching are called “distinctive reflections,” trying only to reflect on what they are telling us — without judgment on our part. In this movement, we validate their feelings and help them identify the underlying needs that are provoking those feelings. Empathy, mutuality and connection make people more trusting of the coaching relationship and more open to change.
A — Ask
Appreciative inquiry is an important movement in the coaching relationship. It moves people in new directions, toward new dreams, by shifting the questions we ask from “What’s wrong?” to “What’s right?” The first shift in Evocative Coaching is from coach-centered to person-centered. The second shift is from deficit-based to strengths-based, which is a shift from diagnosing problems and fixing weaknesses to focusing on what’s working well and what’s possible. By looking at strengths rather than deficits, we can produce better and more lasting change. When we change our questions, we can move our coachee from a fixed mindset to a growth mindset. The seeds of change are sewn by the first questions we ask. That’s why, in Evocative Coaching training, we train our coaches to ask positive leading questions that notice possibility and potential. The more people know about their values, strengths and abilities, the stronger their motivation and the more effective their changes will be.
D — Design thinking
Coaching is not complete unless it leads to an experiment. We don’t want just feel-good conversations. We want our conversations to inspire and generate behavior change. Without behavior change, coaching has fallen short of the mark. Design thinking comes out of Stanford. It’s a field being used in every sector of our economy and is increasingly being applied in the field of education.
Evocative Coaching uses design thinking to inspire confidence, to invite possibilities and to tangibly implement new ideas. Design thinking is about discovery, brainstorming possibilities, choosing the right prototype, field testing and gathering feedback.
Useful phrases such as, “What if ... ?” and “How might we ... ?” introduce a language of possibility that shifts from how things have always been to the potential for reframing. Reframing is critical for innovation and is a way of moving from a deficit point of view to an asset focus.
ACSA Leadership Coaching
What: A 12-hour online interactive workshop designed to enhance the skills and knowledge of educational leadership coaches. When: June (3, 10, 17), August (11, 18, 25) and January 2022 (11, 18, 25) — all sessions 1-5 p.m. Cost: $650 Register:
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