Coaching Lessons & Growth

What I’m learning from being coached…

I entered this coach training with no experience being coached and exposure to coaching via podcasts, primarily. I have grown and learned so much! One of the best parts of the coach training is that we practice it with one another, thus I get coached in some way, shape or form weekly. It has been lovely and so enriching.

The aim of the practice coaching is to practice particular aspects of the structure, and/or tools that we are learning- but the byproduct is actual coaching on real things.

Win -win.

In my coaching sessions (being coached) we have covered areas of my life like leadership, planning for the future, morning routines, and movement during this “work from home” era.

I would say, as would those who know me well, that I am a naturally reflective person – I analyze things (ad nauseam at times), I look for meaning, I attempt to grow and focus on forward movement. And coaching has been amazing at really getting to the heart of things (not like therapy). The level of clarity I’ve received through the process, and the tangible steps I’ve been able to take are significant give that it is merely a byproduct of the training.

I’ve refocused my leadership to focus on my value that I am not irreplaceable. Meaning I want to equip, empower, and trust that in my absence the work still gets done and done well. Also, that if/when I should exit – colleagues are left better.

I’ve seen the connection between “evening Amanda” and “morning Amanda” by looking at the impact of my nightly routine on my morning routine- these 2 Amandas are still in process of becoming friends and collaborators for my best 😉

I’ve been introduced to a myriad of powerful questions that lead to insights and clarity that can be elusive at times. My current favorite question is,

“What are you pretending not to know?”

Juicy, no!?!

I’ve committed to developing rhythms of movement throughout the day including 1) a morning “commute” – stolen from a colleague in coaching training – this is a walk around my neighborhood for about 10-15 mins to separate my morning routing from the start of my work day and 2) restorative yoga at the close of business – another transition marker between work and home. I’ve just started this 2 days ago, so it hasn’t got much traction – but, I’m excited!

I can only imagine if I were being coached professionally, paying for it, and engaging fully, weekly what could come about. I’m adding this to my tools for thriving – I will be seeking out regular, consistent coaching from one of my coaching-mates or another coach in the very near future.

Interpreting as Public Service

Interpreting is fundamentally people work – not language work. And when we get that backwards, or focus too heavily on the language piece- people suffer. Please know that I in no way mean that language is unimportant or an afterthought. Language is critical to the work we do and teach. Language has the power to create realities, inner narratives, understanding or misunderstanding of the world around you. It has the power to destroy people’s sense of self, limit our sense of self and others, and imprison us in lies. It is not to be taken lightly. And it is not ultimately what the work is about – it is a tool for the work.

The work of interpreting is connecting humans. Connecting them to each other, to ideas, knowledge, resources, patterns of thinking. Connecting them to opportunities, support, training, and advancement. Connecting them to loved ones, professional services, and communities of shared interest.
A colleague of mine who teaches in the Deaf and Hard of Hearing Education graduate program at WOU, Kathleen Kenyon, she was sharing some of her brilliance with me the other day. How she starts off her classes with new students, and her lens of teaching as a public service. I’ll share it below and link it back to interpreting as well.

First, a public service is defined as, “a service rendered in the public interest” [according to Merriam dictionary]. This would include teaching, particularly public school teaching, of course- it is a value of our society to educate and thus it is in the public interest to ensure an educated constituency. So, Kenyon, was talking about her response to students who want to know the strategies and tools on day one. Her responses is often, “Can you love them (the students)?” Can you see them? Get them? Work for them? If the answer is “no” -no amount of strategies or tools will help compensate. If the answer is “yes,” – great, let’s start talking tools and strategies, because with love, even in the absence of tools, you’ll figure out how to reach that kid.

Likewise, interpreting students inevitably want to know, “what’s the sign for…” I’m tempted to begin using this strategy with them now as well. “Can you love the person in front of you – see their humanity, investing in understanding the need, use your own humanity to read them, and engage in connecting?” If the answer is “no” – no amount of sophisticated or pretty language will help. If the answer is “yes,” – lets go, let’s have the discussion – because no matter how limited your language, you will figure out how to connect people.

When we get the understanding of the job wrong – and think it is about language, versus language being a tool – we miss out on connecting people meaningfully and loving people well in society.

What to expect from learners in disorientation

The other night in coach training we talked a lot about cognitive load and all the things to attend to in the work of coaching- attending to the client, preparing the next question to dig deeper, recalling the overarching coaching goals, watching the time, checking body language, checking your own gut about what needs to happen next, etc. Also how fatigue impacts perception of cognitive load and compromises decision -making at a certain point.

The cognitive load is a significant piece of interpreting and decision-making. Over the years I have referred to it as one’s channel and that it is indeed finite- and if we are expending a bunch of energy doing x, we don’t have it for y. So, for example, in the transition from ASL student to interpreting student, the cognitive load and energy is going to re-allocated to learning the new thing – the meaning making and the equivalency piece. Less energy is going to go into production, retrieval, or even learning new, more sophisticated language. Thus, externally, you will look like you have “lost” your ASL or other skills/knowledge, when it fact, that is not the case – it has been de-prioritized for a time because you don’t have infinite energy to spend, so you have to conserve somewhere. It is still in there and it will re-emerge as the new things take up less of your cognitive load because the become more automatized.

In this time of disorientation, we can expected an even more exaggerated J curve, I would suspect.

Week 1 – what a year!?!?

This week has been a long year indeed. My work went from largely on campus and in a business environment, to the corner of my art studio with a blue screen fencing me in. I have been an online instructor for about a decade and my life significantly changed as well. Admittedly, I’m also currently serving as the chair of our academic division, so I have responsibilities beyond the classroom. And all of those things shifted quickly.

The first three days of my week were back to back zoom meetings. I hosted daily check ins with all the faculty in all our programs (about 16 of us in total + interpreters = 18ish online simultaneously). These check-ins were intended to accomplish a couple of things 1) check in with folks and make sure they are doing okay emotionally as we make shifts and shifts continued coming rapid fire for a bit and 2) to acquaint them to the platform and what it could do.
The meetings were primarily in ASL – a majority of our division is signers. This made for some of the logistics being a bit easier with interpreters primarily working into spoken English.

We used the chat feature for communication on some activities, send participants in to breakout groups, back to the main group, and back out again. And then did large group reporting out.

I recorded each meeting and also did a screencapture so that I could make a tutorial of the host controls (I couldn’t figure out how to share my screen to show those things). I used some best practices to show folks how to use the platform and have the communication not be so chaotic – calling on people rather than waiting for volunteers, people raising hands to indicate interest in adding, and using the chat box for some communication.

One of the cool things that happened was faculty from different programs who may or may not have contact normally did – and informally, low stakes – which hopefully will lead to cross-program resource sharing and relationships.
At the end of each session, I also remained available for individual meetings that people may have needed. I used a single breakout room to move to “private” space with them, while the others wanting individual meetings waiting in the main room. Then I would pop back to the main room and get the next person and move them to the breakout room and join them over there. In my estimation, it worked out well – I think people got what they needed, I was accessible, and they lost some of their fear of the unknown from the platform. I will do a follow up survey with them when grades are posted and they have a moment to breath and reflect 🙂

A whole new era

Things have unfolded quickly and suddenly last week and now we are entering a new frontier. With the requirements to move classes to remote delivery within a short period of time, many of us are in a tailspin.

That being said, it is also a great time to connect, rethink, and learn new things to move forward successfully and intentionally.

Click here to see what resources I’m offering to support us in this time 1) a mighty network and 2) newsletter mailing list.