It was a room full of participants from diverse roles and disciplinary backgrounds, all curious about what a “strength-based coaching approach” looks like in providing feedback to their students.
“I will be more intentional in finding their strengths… for them to build on.” – a workshop participant’s takeaway
Through small group discussions, we surfaced and reflected on our intentions, assumptions, and current practices around why, when, and how we provide feedback to our students. We had generative dialogues around asking for permission in offering feedback, alignment of feedback and (student/course/program/etc.) goals, and our own comfort given feedback’s inherent relational nature. Given their own unique teaching contexts and (time) constraints, participants were critically considering the logistics of implementation and evaluating the value of this strength-based coaching approach.
Through a number of role-play scenarios, we challenged ourselves to incorporate some of the four core elements of this coaching approach:
This experiential learning activity illuminated for the participants the need to become more aware of the diversity in their students’ perspectives and experiences and to “stay curious about their students”. We also explored a few strategies to incorporate elements of this coaching approach through different modalities of feedback (e.g., written feedback, peer feedback, etc.).
I will “consider the student’s perspective and experience in receiving the feedback” – a workshop participant’s reflection on what they would do differently
Of course, this coaching approach is not without its limitations and risks: level of trust that exist in your relationship, student maturity and readiness to engage with constructive feedback, time and workload constraints, etc. are all important considerations as you experiment with a strength-based coaching approach in providing feedback.
To me, this is the core of a learner-centred practice that supports students’ holistic success.
The CTLT Summer Institute offers fundamental teaching development opportunities for new instructors at UBC. Many of the sessions on offer this year are developed and delivered in collaboration with faculty members, with aims to expose new instructors with diverse perspectives and experiences to reflect upon.
The parallel process of learning that I am engaging in this time around is the Offering Effective Feedback session that Pamela Rogalski and I will be co-facilitating – introducing a strength-based coaching approach to providing feedback.
“Treat people as if they were what they ought to be, and you help them to become what they are capable of being.”
– Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
In this session, we plan to hold space for participants to reflect on their current feedback-giving practice and its alignment with their intention, to engage them in role-plays to experiment with a strength-based coaching approach in order to fully consider the perspectives of their students as they receive feedback. We will provide ample opportunities for our participants to reflect and to engage in incremental improvements through dialogue as ways to model a collaborative coaching approach to support students’ holistic success. We will also embrace the generative/emergent nature of coaching in our session and discuss the limitations/challenges that comes with taking this approach in our higher education context. Our hope is that our participants will come to appreciate the integration of a strength-based coaching approach to providing feedback in their classrooms.
I look forward to seeing how this experiment unfolds in September!
I have recently completed my UBC Certificate in Organizational Coaching program through Extended Learning. I was consistently invited to lean into the discomfort in the zone of proximal development (Vygotsky, 1935) and this learning journey has been powerfully transformative for me.
Bringing in my lenses as an educational developer, a distress services provider, a scientist, and a life-long learner, my evolving conceptualization of coaching is a mutual commitment to the process of learning that ultimately enhances my client’s internal capacity to make meaningful and sustainable changes toward their stated goals. I strive to show up as my authentic self, with presence, curiosity, and vulnerability that support my clients to dive into the learning zone, or the zone of proximal development (Vygotsky, 1935). As a thought partner, I bring integrity, honesty, and accountability into conversations to explore, discover, collaborate and design the pathways to my clients’ intentional success.
It is exciting to learn how others draw on their expertise to incorporate coaching into various educational contexts (Lofthouse, 2019). At UBC, there is a growing coaching culture and I have access to a wealth of resources as an internal coach. I am committed to gathering stories from fellow internal coaches to learn how they leverage their coaching skills to affect change within UBC.
As an early career educational developer, I will have to continue to increase my level of self-awareness and self-regulation within my work context as I try to bring a coach approach to my work. I am eager to integrate this newly developed coaching skills to partner with faculty members to “develop teaching quality, to enable inter-professional learning, and to facilitate positive and productive relationships through cultural change in educational communities” (Lofthouse, 2019). I hope to deepen relationships with educators by creating intentional learning spaces for dialogue, modelings a strength-based practice, and extending their skills and knowledge through co-construction!
Vygotsky, L. (1935 ). The dynamics of the schoolchild’s mental development in relation to teaching and learning (trans. A. Kozulin). Journal of Cognitive Education & Psychology, vol. 10, no. 2, pp. 198–211.