In this #PLtogether Lounge Talk, Christian van Nieuwerburgh talks about equitable and inclusive coaching practices and how to create a shared culture with teachers.

Read the highlights at our blog: Two Experts are Better Than One in Inclusive Coaching For Teachers

This is part 4 of a 4-part conversation. See the rest here:

You can find the full transcript below:

– Welcome to another PLtogether Lounge Talk. I’m Adam Geller, Founder and CEO of Edthena, the video coaching platform that enables educators to collaborate about videos of actual teaching practice. Today, we’re talking with Christian van Nieuwerburgh. He’s the Global Direct of Growth Coaching International and the author of multiple books including the forthcoming book, “Advanced Coaching Practice” with co-author David Love. Christian, thanks so much for joining us.

– It’s lovely to be here, Adam. I’ve enjoyed the conversation so far.

– Well, I wanna close us out, by thinking out maybe one of the other purposes or value ads of having coaching conversations in motion inside of schools. And that’s really thinking beyond the strict academic outcomes or goals that we might have set and more in how having a coaching process can enable greater equity within schools and communities. So I guess, take us into some of the thinking you’ve done in this space, around the impact of coaches and this kind of idea of social justice.

– Yeah, well Adam, I just love the idea of using coaching for the purpose of social justice. And the great thing is, I think education plays this role as well, should be playing this role. So I’ve actually done some writing around coaching using interculturally sensitive coaching. So that’s one of the terms that I use. So what do I mean by, how can we use it? Well, first of all, the coaching interactions themselves, need to be highly inclusive. What that means is, neither person, the coach or the coachee should feel like they’re the other. I don’t think there’s place for other in a coaching conversation. And I think this is where maybe sometimes we slip up a little bit because I would argue it shouldn’t be the coach inviting the person they’re coaching into their cultural setting. It’s not saying, well, this is the cultural out here. So come in, welcome. But it’s also not saying this is your cultural space, because they’ll be bringing a different perspective. For me, what’s exciting about coaching, is always thinking that we create a shared culture. So for me, the coaching conversation is one where both parties say, I bring my cultural heritage. I bring my societal views, but when we’re in this conversation, we’re both of equal value and we agree what we do in this conversation. So that’s really exciting for me. And that’s one idea there. The other is what I find empowering about coaching, is it’s so personalized Adam and it really allows us to say, what is it that you in your context to achieve what it is you need to achieve? So for me, I often argue that coaching is one of the most respectful ways of supporting people to grow and develop. So in other words, it’s the opposite of telling people what to do. It’s actually respecting them and saying, you know what you need to do, and you are the expert of your context. So for those reasons, I think it could be a powerful way of supporting social justice in schools but also more broadly.

– I think one of the things that stuck out to me in hearing you describe like the way that the coach might approach the conversation, was this added statement of in your context, just adding that one little different way of thinking about the kind of frame that you’re gonna take on that conversation. Now, I’m curious to ask you, so there are lots of different ways to understand the kind of context being different or similar between two people. One thing that’s maybe outside of some of the typical ways that people think about for equity is just the experience of the two parties in this conversation. And I’m curious, like does, how does like experience and kind of perception of expertise, play into creating a more equal coaching conversation?

– Yeah, that’s a wonderful question. You’re great at these Adam, very thought provoking and I’d like to spend a long time answering, but I won’t . For me, this principle of equality and of course my role model, Dr. Jim Knight, talks about the partnership principles. And one of the partnership principles, is the principle of equality. And for me, that’s so important. In coaching conversations, both people are of equal value and it’s not to say there’s no experts there, but I like the idea that there’s two experts. However, for me, the coaches’ expertise lies around creating ideal environments for learning. That’s what we study. That’s the skills we talked about, the frameworks. I spent time becoming expert in having these empowering conversations. The person we’re coaching is the expert of their situation. So what we have there is equality on the basis that it’s not, there’s no experts, but that we’re both experts. The thing we have to pull back as coaches, is judgment. That’s the thing that can get in the way. And I think that’s something we have to practice and it takes time. But I think the most empowering environment, is the one in which the person we’re coaching does not feel judged. And if we can create that environment, that’s the empowering environment that I think coaching can create. And I think that’s a fear that we all share at the moment, the feeling of being judged, perceived to be wrong, perceived to be making mistakes, perceived to be stupid, all of these things. And that’s the skill that we as coaches need to develop, is to inspire confidence in the person we’re coaching that in this conversation, they’re not gonna be judged. If we can do that, we can really unlock enormous potential in people. That idea of, I think what we need to convey as coaches, is we believe in you. That belief in others, is what we want to convey. And that belief that you are going to be able to figure out what you need in your context because you’re the expert of your context. And you can see Adam, if we can do that for educators, that’s what educators are doing for the students. We want our educators to convey that belief in the students that they serve. So it’s a wonderful opportunity I think, and developing the skills we need to be coaches, these are transferable skills and we can use them in all aspects of leadership, education, learning, et cetera.

– I feel like I should name the thing that, you just described coaching as what it is and maybe we should name the thing you didn’t say. We’re defining coaching for instructional coaches. You didn’t say an instructional coach approaches that conversation as an instructional expert. You basically made no mention of that in your definition and I think that may be an important shift to highlight for folks, that’s kind of embedded in this conversation about how they can think about their roles as a coach, and how they’re approaching those conversations in order to ensure that they kind of create that equal playing field between both sides.

– Absolutely, and just to add to that because my message would be, don’t focus entirely on that, on the expertise you have in instructional practices. There’s this whole other side which is just creating the right environment in which people can grow and develop. So I think for instructional coaches, having expertise in certain instructional practices, is important but as Jim Knight would say, it’s the way that’s conveyed, the partnership principles where on that principle of equality. And really for me, putting the teacher in the driving seat, they’re the ones who are gonna have to implement this. They’re the ones who know their context better than anyone and ultimately they’re the ones who are going to succeed based on their own resources.

– Putting the teachers in the driver’s seat, music to my ears. Christian we unfortunately have to end it here but thank you so much for your reflections. This has been a great learning opportunity for me as well as everyone who’s finding these videos. If you just watch this and you’re thinking, “Man, what did they talk about before this segment?” Make sure to head to for the rest of this conversation, as well as many more. Christian, thanks so much for being part of PLtogether.

– Thank you Adam. I want to thank all of the viewers as well but also you Adam for bringing people together and talking about these important topics. I’m very grateful to what educators do and what you do to support them. Thank you.

– Thank you.