Sunday, July 28, 2013

Dispositions Matter in Coaching
Have you heard the story of the twins, one an optimist and the other a pessimist? The pessimistic twin’s
room was filled with every toy imaginable while the optimistic twin’s room was filled with horse manure. Their individual dispositions suggest how each responded to their situation. The pessimistic disposition found fault and complaints with all of the toys. On the other hand, the optimistic disposition saw hope of a pony in all of that manure!

According to Wikipedia, Dispositions are a habit, a preparation, a state of readiness, or a tendency to act in a specified way. Similarly, Wiktionary defines dispositions as a tendency or inclination under given circumstances.

But, it is not just what perspective you bring to a situation, but it is also the preparation you have made. Imagine a runner, hoping to enter the next marathon. Hoping will not get the runner very far in a marathon. Training and commitment will also be needed to accomplish that goal. Clearly, how you prepare yourself or approach a situation makes a significant difference in your experience and outcome. So, what outcomes do we hope for when coaching other teachers? According to Mary E. Dietz and James D. Rath in Dispositions in Teacher Education,
Coaching is defined as showing “people how to transform or stretch their visions, values, and abilities (Hargrove, 1995); “helping an individual or team produce a desired result through increasing awareness and ability to solve problems” (Milwaukee Public Schools, 2004, p. 10); and “providing deliberate support to clarify and achieve goals” (Bloom et al., 2005, p.7).

Then, what dispositions and what preparation would a coach need in order to accomplish those outcomes? I would suggest six dispositions that are critical to accomplish the outcome of self-directed learning to solve problems and achieve goals: Establish Trust, Active and Mindful Listener, Open to Possibilities and Welcoming the Unexpected, Self-Awareness, Self-Reflection and Self-Directed Action, and Direct Communication.  I will explore each one more in depth in future posts. Stay tuned!