My Coaching Journey: A Confession, a Commitment and a Transformation

Journey: Transformational coaching requires commitment

Transformational coaching requires commitment. In my coaching journey, I have gone from confession to commitment and on to transformation.

A Confession

So I have a confession to make. The first time I read The Art of Coaching, I skipped sections that seemed like a lot of work. I wanted a quick fix. As a newer coach, I was feeling overwhelmed and didn’t have time to create work plans – and integrate the coaching lenses – and the ladder of inference into my coaching practice. Latching onto the coaching stems, I saw these as a doable entry point. These I could memorize, right? I felt like a real coach when I was armed with my coaching stems.

Coaching Joe

It’s not really a big surprise that my conversations were anything but impactful in those early days. I met with Joe, a first-year teacher, weekly. His classroom was in the back of the school campus. This was a positive in my mind – more time to think about the conversation that we would have as I walked from the parking lot to his classroom. I would end up talking most of the time during our coaching sessions. I made no connections to previous conversations and I felt like our conversations were more of a checkbox that I got to mentally mark off as I walked to my car. ✓ Had a coaching conversation with Joe this week. I wasn’t spending much time in reflection after our conversations either.

A Commitment

As the weeks and months passed, I knew I wanted more from this coaching experience. After attending many workshops with Elena Aguilar, I decided to revisit The Art of Coaching. I focused on planning for my coaching conversations and creating work plans for my teachers. I set intentions for my conversations and created a mission statement for my coaching practice. My work was starting to feel so different than those early days. I was stepping into my role as a coach and loving every minute of it.

And then Elena announced her certification program.

Yes, an Art of Coaching certification program…this is exactly what I need to take my coaching to the next level.

Coaching… Myself

I spent the next two years in an intense dive into coaching. We explored coaching for equity and coaching emotions. We explored systems thinking and leadership coaching. And we practiced. And then we practiced some more. Role-play after role-play in an attempt to hone our craft: transformational coaching requires commitment!

I remember my first day of training as part of the certification program. I was struggling through a role-play and was beginning to get frustrated. As we were headed to lunch, I had a conversation with Elena. She explained that my struggles were understandable and with a comforting smile she shared that I was just at the conscious incompetence level of learning. Wait, what? This was supposed to be encouraging? Did I hear her correctly, she just called me incompetent?
I hadn’t heard of the Conscious Competence Ladder – so of course, at lunch I googled it.

As Elena shares in Onward, this framework (developed by Noel Burch in the 1970s), “helps us understand four stages of learning. The model highlights the factors that affect our thinking as we learn a new skill: consciousness (awareness) and skill level (competence). It identifies four levels that we move through as we build competence in a new skill: unconscious incompetence, conscious incompetence, conscious competence, and unconscious competence.” This framework then became my guide as I worked through the program.

A Transformation

My coaching toolbox continued to fill with planning docs, thinking tools and coaching lenses. I practiced conversations and reflected on my growth. And I had my own coach as well. Our monthly coaching conversations were invaluable to me during that time. I slowly worked my way up the competence ladder. I actively and intentionally grew my thinking on creating equitable schools and challenged myself to always coach with this in mind.

Coaching Joe Again

I was lucky enough to have another opportunity to coach Joe again. He was no longer a first-year teacher, and I was no longer that overwhelmed coach. What else was different? The certification program has provided me with a robust toolbox of coaching strategies to support me in my work. With my new knowledge of personality types, I asked Joe to take a quick 5-minute personality quiz online at From this, I realized that Joe was an extreme introvert. He liked quiet time to reflect and process before engaging in conversation. I, on the other hand, am an extroverted, verbal processor. Our personalities hadn’t changed since the first time we worked together, and yet this time around this new understanding of personality types made such a difference in our conversations. This awareness was actually a game-changer.

I was able to hold the silence and space for him to process. I stopped asking a question four different ways to fill the space. His learning and growth became the center of our conversations and without losing sight of the educational equity we were striving for. I grew in leaps and bounds as a coach in the certification program – I learned to better hold myself accountable and became very intentional in my coaching practice. I am so grateful that we got another opportunity to work together where he can now see the value of transformational coaching.

Transformational Coaching

My firsthand experience growing and thriving as a coach as a graduate of The Art of Coaching Certification Program is what excites me for the next cohort to launch this fall. Transformational coaching requires commitment! So if you’re ready to level up as a coach and want to be part of a community of individuals supporting each other to do the same, sign up on the interest list and stay tuned for more information on how to apply for this amazing virtual experience that will transform your coaching practice.

To Read

How to become an instructional coach.

Improve your coaching with one move – stop talking!

To Do

Register for the Cultivating Resilience in Educators Institute from July 27 – 30. During this intensive professional development, you’ll learn how to lead others in building their resilience, while also building your own. You’ll leave this retreat with an expanded set of tools to build resilience and with a plan to cultivate resilience in others over the course of the next school year.

To Keep An Eye On

We are relaunching the Art of Coaching Certification Program. Click here to share your interest!