Podcast: Focusing When Things Are Changing | Steve Barkley

Podcast: Focusing When Things Are Changing

Focusing When Things Are Changing

How can coaching assist educators in examining their empowerment to generate increased satisfaction and energy in teaching and learning? This refocus at times rather than a focus on “what has to be done” can be encouraging and energizing. Dr. Maria Gottschalk, an organizational psychologist, suggests exploring questions like, “what do you need to feel engaged and excel at work?”

Read Dr. Maria Gottschalk’s blog, “5 Work Life Rules That Stand The Test of Time” here.

Read Steve’s blogs on refocusing:




PODCAST TRANSCRIPTSteve [Intro]: 00:00 Hello and welcome to the Steve Barkley Ponders Out Loud podcast. Instructional coaches and leaders create the environment that supports teachers to continually imagine, grow and achieve. They model an excitement for learning that teachers in turn model for students. This podcast is dedicated to promoting the important aspects of instructional leadership. Thanks for listening.

Steve: 00:29 Focusing when things are changing. I read a recent post from Dr. Maria Gottschalk. She’s a organizational psychologist who explores the building of stronger work life foundations. Her thoughts connected with thinking that I’ve been doing around the concerns I’m hearing from school leaders about the way that staff are responding with a statement quite often. And the statement is, “not one more thing.” One superintendent had shared with me that no matter how he tried to convince staff that issues of student performance from learning loss or upcoming formal required assessments were not going to be used by district administrators pressing teachers, the teacher stress remains.

Steve: 01:32 He shared that he tells staff to be calm and relaxed. Don’t worry about the next set of assessments, but he sees no positive impact on the teacher’s feelings. I suggested that maybe it wasn’t about telling the teachers to become and relaxed, but rather to refocus their goals and energies. I pointed the superintendent to an earlier blog and several podcasts that I had done on reframing mindsets. Two of the reframes that I thought especially fit, were a refocus from hate to a focus on love. In other words, rather than thinking about what it is you hate about the current situation, think about what it is you love about the work that you’re doing. And the other was refocusing on longer term rather than short term goals. The link to these podcasts and blogs and the link to Dr. Gottschalk’s website are included in the lead-in to this podcast. Gottschalk shared that we need to acknowledge that work now may not feel the same as it previously did. This merges with this phrase that we’re hearing back to normal.

Steve: 03:07 I don’t think there is a back to normal and if there were, it’s probably not a place that we really want to go. Kind of like the good old days – often re-envisioned, but we really don’t want to change a lifestyle to washing clothes outside in a tub. We really don’t want to return to that. I thought several of Gottschalk’s suggestions provide some areas for coaching conversations with teachers, as well as for our own reflection. She suggests that we recall what we need in order to feel engaged and excel at our work. What does our work bring to the world? And why does that have value for us? She poses three questions that extend this exploration. One – what was the last time you remember truly enjoying yourself at work? Two – what were you doing? Three – does that element play a strong role in your current work life?

Steve: 04:31 I think that getting teachers to explore when their students find the greatest satisfaction in learning is important because that’s likely to align with when teachers are finding their greatest satisfaction in teaching. Consider building those questions and that exploration into your coaching practices. I know that even when I’m Zoom coaching, I can read the energy increase as a coachee is sharing a plan for a learning experience where learning is likely to spark the learner’s engagement in flow. Flow – that spot where emotions are in full coordination with the task at hand. Consider this quote from Gottschalk – “Finding moments of excitement. Personally, I’m fine doing the difficult and sometimes tedious task of my role. However, I find moments of exhilaration are necessary to sustain me. A pounding heart before a client presentation, the thrill of a new data set. Whatever excites you at work needs to be present if at all possible.

Steve: 06:00 These moments may indeed be rare, but they fuel the work-life soul. It’s critical that in our coaching role, we assist teachers in exploring the empowerment to cause those moments of excitement to occur. Those moments when teachers can get that exhilaration that they need to sustain the sometimes tedious task of teaching.” As a coach, I know that the coachee experiencing that exhilaration generates a smile and a thrill for me. I encourage you to support teachers through coaching to increase those numbers of occurrences of thrills for the learner, generating thrills for the teacher and generating a thrill for you. Happy coaching. Thanks for listening.

Steve [Outro]: 07:17 Thank you for listening. You can subscribe to Steve Barkley Ponders Out Loud on iTunes and Podbean. And please remember to rate and review us on iTunes. I also want to hear what you’re pondering. You can find me on Twitter @stevebarkley, or send me your questions and find my videos and blogs at barkleypd.com

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