Coaching provides an environment where Specialists are challenged and supported to try new skills and techniques in a setting that is safe enough to be vulnerable enough to receive feedback on skills, which does not indicate the process is easy or comfortable. It may be challenging. This mirrors the same process we take in our work with our clients.
Coaching focuses on the actions, responses, and decisions of a Specialist in providing services to the children and families they serve. Effective coaching is critical to building Specialists’ competencies, including reinforcing Oklahoma Child Welfare ethics and values, practice/Quality Service standards, encouraging self-reflection and critical thinking skills building upon training to enhance performance, and supporting the Specialist through decision-making and crises. Self-reflection allows the Specialist to examine and consider ways to improve their own practice.
The foundation of the Coaching Pyramid (tier 1) consists of
- A skillful coach who provides clear feedback, listens, and builds trust with the learner
- A qualified coach who has the necessary knowledge, qualifications, and effective abilities to coach
- A structured coaching process by which both parties understand and agree upon the coaching goals
- A safe and supportive coaching environment that provides a place to reflect and think.
Once the foundation is in place, the learner will reap primary benefits (tier 2) including
- Clarity and focus, which provide a sense of clear direction and purpose;
- Self-confidence, which leads to improved competence and success in working with families
- Motivation to achieve, which fosters greater accountability and an enhanced desire for the learner to succeed. (SOURCE: Coaching Toolkit for Child Welfare Practice).
Coaching is focused on asking questions that will help the Specialist seek and find their own answers to situations in which there is more than one possible solution. Effective coaching navigates and supports the Specialist without taking over and doing for the Specialist what they can learn to do, thereby enhancing critical thinking skills (ie parallel process with empowering families to meet their own needs). Coaching guides the Specialist through evaluation of outcomes to learn what lessons can be learned as it relates to the purpose of Child Welfare, thus modeling the CQI process. It allows the Specialist to synthesize information to create a working theory that guides problem solving. In essence it works to advance Specialists’ autonomy and decision making especially as it relates to safety and providing support as needed while recognizing mistakes are possible and growing from them.