Relationships are a key factor for any powerful, sustained adult learning to take place in a professional development setting. The 5 relational factors of Evocative Coaching are consciousness, connection, competence, contribution and creativity.
Schools view technology integration in terms of training. In most training scenarios the tool takes center stage and the trainer is center “sage”. Good trainers are able to incorporate two of the the five factors of evocative coaching, contribution and creativity, into their sessions. A well intentioned training session fosters a “can-learn” attitude and is designed around manageable goals; and we all can recall a dynamic trainer whose energy, humor and delight with the possibilities of the tool encouraged us to dream of a changed classroom and transformed student learning. But no matter how great a training session is, it cannot influence three of the relational factors of evocative coaching: consciousness, connection and contribution.
Consciousness v. Unconsciousness
Consciousness occurs when we listen to stories in a mindful way, without judgement or distraction, and respond to these stories with empathy, a respectful, no-fault understanding and appreciation of a teacher’s experience. Training workshops aren’t designed for consciousness. There is no space for listening to stories, unless they are being told by the trainer; in fact, any prolonged conversation may interrupt learning. The teacher is encouraged to remain out of touch with what’s current in their world in order to soak in as much of the new information as possible. As a result, there is rarely a lasting increase in consciousness. Teachers enter the temporary world of the training session then re-enter their actual world. Transfer from one to the other is difficult.
Connected v. Disconnected
Collaboration begins with consciousness. As a coach and teacher develop deeper connections, reflection increases, teaching practice becomes less private, and motivation and self-efficacy increase. Training workshops are not designed for connectedness. A skilled trainer creates a veneer of connectedness in order to lessen barriers to engagement, but these tactics do not foster deeper consciousness and lasting connections. A good workshop or conference might incorporate physical and virtual space into the schedule to encourage networking, but who remains to nurture these emerging connections after the event ends? Connectedness is especially important for teachers who express lower self-efficacy with technology. These teachers may become even more disconnected as they perceive the greater knowledge and skills of the trainer as more evidence of their deficiencies.
Competence v. Incompetence
Because adult learning is highly dependent on previous experiences of competence, coaches engage teachers with stories of past success in order to generate the motivation and self-efficacy necessary to grow to another level of competence. Training workshops are not designed for competence. Due to a lack of time, most trainers can not engage with a teacher’s past experience. Well designed workshops might offer beginner, intermediate, and expert levels of training, but most site level training aims for the middle which may leave many unsatisfied. Training is often designed around a known outcome: make a website, create a form, etc. Training does not offer the opportunity for teachers to create and conduct their own learning experiments to test out the effectiveness of strategies and tools in their own practice and then reflect on those experiences with a coach.