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Lead your Own Book Study - Coaching for Equity

Tuesday, March 30, 2021

Written by Joseph Kanke, WI Statewide Coaching Coordinator
Aligned to Coaching Components: 1a, 4a, 6a

This past fall, I facilitated a series of monthly meetings to discuss the text, Coaching for Equity, Conversations that Change practice by Elena Aguilar for 80 Wisconsin educators. These dedicated professionals embarked on a learning journey poised to catapult their individual equity capacity and equip them to strengthen their equity mindset.

This article outlines both the technical and adaptive criteria to bring the learning into your professional spaces. It provides you with the resources you’ll need as well as some tricks and tips to help you along the way.

The Technical - Preparing the Book Study Space

Elena’s text is divided into twelve chapters and is centered around her coaching model; transformational coaching. For this book, it made the most sense to read in a linear fashion or beginning with chapter one through the end. We met for one hour each month to discuss two chapters.

As the facilitator, I sent an email to participants prior to each session indicating a reading protocol as well as additional resources to consider. In the resource folder, you will find a Note Capture Sheet for each month (two chapters). At the top of each Note Capture Sheet additional resources are linked as well as the discussion questions Elena Aguilar embedded for each chapter. I directed small groups to use these questions as additional guides to discuss the chapters or to replace the discussion protocol if they preferred. You’ll notice there are highlighted questions. These are simply the questions I felt might spur the most robust discussion.

Additionally you will note that there is a link to individual journal pages and the slide deck at the top of each Note Capture Sheet. The journal was an option for individuals who wished to be reflective of their reading on an individual level before connecting with others in conversation. Those who accessed the journal found it very helpful. The slide deck was used as a grounding for our time as well as a place to debrief the whole group.

For our time together, we centered ourselves with a short introductory activity, reviewed norms and then headed into breakout rooms of three or four people. I asked each group to summarize their discussion in the collective Note Capture Sheet so we could all benefit from each group’s discussion. Then we returned to the main room to complete a short reflection activity of three questions:

  1. One thing that resonated with me. . .
  2. One thing I will commit to. . .and
  3. One thing I want to explore further...

Given the size of our group, we reflected using a Jamboard, but this could also be done as a share out. Essentially the time breakdown was ten minutes to ground ourselves, 40 minutes to discuss the chapters in small groups and ten minutes to reflect and close.

During the final session participants were invited to stay an additional thirty minutes to discuss a capstone project in groups of three. In past book studies I’ve facilitated, I noted that participants spend a lot of time reflecting, but don’t have space to commit to action. I provided a brief capstone template (also included in the resource folder) to consider as a presentation format, but some participants chose their own method.

The Adaptive - Preparing the Head and Heart Space

Conversations about race and equity can be difficult. If you choose to engage in this work, it is important to have a facilitator who has experience and comfort guiding courageous conversations. It is also key to provide participants with some norms and background prior to engaging in discussion.

For this books study we centered ourselves in Wisconsin’s Model to Inform Culturally Responsive Practices which states:

Becoming culturally responsive is a lifelong journey, not a final destination. This journey involves intentionally choosing to stay engaged in introspection, embracing alternative truths, and ensuring that every student is successful (Singleton & Linton, 2006; Promoting Excellence for All, 2015).

This process is represented on the outer circle of the model as:

  • Will: The desire to lead and a commitment to achieving equitable outcomes for all students;
  • Fill: Gaining cultural knowledge about ourselves and others, and;
  • Skill: Applying knowledge and leading the change, skillfully putting beliefs and learning into action. The arrows illustrate the ongoing, unfinished nature of this work.

This acted as a reminder that each person in the space was in a different place in their individual journey. We also paired this with Glen Singleton’s norms for a courageous conversation in hopes to create a brave space.

Finally, asking for feedback after each session is key to evaluate if the facilitation is making space for each and every voice.

Please don’t hesitate to reach out if you are interested in conducting a book study and have questions, comments or suggestions.

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