Coaching in Education

Everything I had thought about coaching in education changed when I read the article “Personal Best” by Atul Gawande several years ago. In the article, we learn that eight years into his surgical career, the author felt his surgical skills had plateaued as compared to the steady upward growth he experienced during the initial launch into his professional work. And so he asked a former instructor to observe him during surgical procedures and serve as a coach. He shared that the first procedure he did while being observed went incredibly smoothly. Or so he thought. His coach provided two pages of “small things” that, from his coach’s vantage point, affected his work in ways that offered opportunities for improvement. The coach pointed out that shifting his arm or foot position could offer greater stability while working. He noticed how the surgical light moved during the procedure, thus changing the amount of direct light shining on the wound. These “outside eyes,” as Gawande described it, along with several months of continued observations and follow-up conversations, offered Gawande the chance to get better at his job.
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