New Orleans

Getting the Most Out of Coaching

Kelsey McLachlan is the Instructional Leadership Coach for Leading Educators’ New Orleans program.  Kelsey began her career as teacher in Chicago Public Schools where she taught for six years.  She also led teacher leadership development at Teach for America Greater New Orleans and was the Founding Assistant Principal at KIPP Leadership Primary.  Kelsey spoke with us about her direct work with teacher leaders to advance educational equity through rigorous classroom instruction.

LE: Tell us about your role. What does an instructional leadership coach do at Leading Educators?

KM:  To my thinking, excellent coaching is about transforming leaders so that they not only increase student achievement, but also positively affect all of those around them. My aim is to help the leaders I coach be as successful as possible at grasping opportunities to improve and reaching goals through collaboration.  I have the privilege of partnering with teams of teacher and school leaders to ensure that they are making steady progress towards student and teacher goals rooted in college and career readiness standards. Reaching these goals is the way to live and achieve our mission of equitable schools for all students, and it's my job to use all of the components of our program to do that: one-on-one coaching, group coaching, and professional learning sessions.   

LE: What are common challenges your coachees face when stepping into instructional leadership?

KM: Accountability is often a challenge for new leaders. I support people to become stronger at holding each other accountable through explicit coaching around this skill in addition to modeling it in my own interactions with them. Holding people accountable to their student and personal growth goals and being honest, or “showing them the mirror”, is a strong way to build trust. In the course of our work together, we agree on goals that impact students' lives, and I want to hold them to those goals in a supportive way. I try to become invested in their goals as if they are mine and check in on them regularly.

Motivating others to action, and teaching the skills to motivate is vital in leadership coaching. I often compare coaching both teachers and leaders to coaching Olympic athletes: you can’t run the 100 meter dash for them, you can’t practice the race for them. The teacher or leader has to drive their own performance through reflection and practice. The coach is there to share strategies and feedback to improve their performance, for example, by suggesting that they shorten their stride or pick up their pace.

LE: What have you tried to help coachees land on a clear path forward?

KM: The most important first step to moving the needle is building trust with people.  I try to deeply listen to words, of course, but also body language and gestures, so that I can hear and understand everything the person means. So that means, I need to allow time for the person to speak and then ask questions to probe their thinking more deeply. Driving people forward in reaching goals is a baseline for a coach.  However, I think one of my most important realizations from many years of coaching is this: what sets a great coach apart from a mediocre one is the ability to see the leader’s “best self” and to help them access that “self”. Getting them there might be hard work, but a strong foundation of personal growth and discovery will make success more likely.

LE: You’ve mentioned a passion for educational equity.  How does that lens influence your approach to coaching?

KM: Elena Aguilar wrote in Education Week, “Coaching with an equity lens means that we pay attention to the social and historic forces which create and maintain systems in which children are treated differently based on who they are.”  In coaching, it's imperative to keep in mind my own identity and the bias that I bring to the table.  I have to do the work of unpacking my perspective, while also listening to and lifting up biases that may live within the work that teacher leaders do.  Also, building deep content knowledge with the teacher leaders I coach allows for a focus on instruction that is rigorous for all students.

LE: I know you love New Orleans! What keeps you so invested in serving New Orleans schools?

KM: New Orleans is, in my opinion, the best city on the planet. It has so many amazing bright spots that you can only experience in the Crescent City, and I believe the people who live here are its greatest asset. Still, our city has experienced generations of inequity and we individually and collectively have so much to do to change that. It's this injustice that keeps me here to prove what’s possible to achieve with our amazing students.

AB1_6653.jpg

Cohort 2015 Spotlight: Dean Gancarz-Davies

School: FirstLine Schools

Hometown: My early years were in Severna Park, Maryland. Then my high school years were in Brooklyn, New York.

What made you want to become a teacher?

I was a psychology major in college (at Macalester College in St. Paul, Minnesota) and as junior and senior, I had an internship as a Developmental Therapist with autistic preschoolers. I loved it and completely grooved on it and thought "I want to do this for the rest of my life." I talked with my program, and they said I had to go into the public schools to do that. So I had various teacher aides positions in public schools and then when I moved to New Orleans...I did a program called Pathways to Teaching at Tulane where I took classes and taught in New Orleans public schools. Now I've been teaching for over 20 years since.

What brought you to your current position as Athletic Director?

I taught 4th grade, 6th grade, gifted resource, and 2nd grade. And I figured out that I was so busy that I was never able to exercise. To feel good, I need to exercise. So I thought, how can I make exercise part of my job? I have to be a PE teacher! So I went back to UNO and got my Master's Degree in PE and Health in 2005. And since then, I've been teaching PE and then became an athletic director.

Can you explain your inspiration for your CPL and Impact Initiative?

When I was a fourth-grade teacher, I was at a brainstorming session around what can we do to improve test scores. Well, my fourth graders were having a hard time sitting still, and I thought if we had an intense physical activity portion at the start of the day, my test scores would improve. I was laughed out of the room. I read a book called "Spark" after that. The first part was how in Illinois, a heavy fitness program at the beginning of the school day really advanced test scores in a huge way. When I read this in the book, I thought "That's what I was saying!" Later, when I was pushed to doing the Impact Initiative (with Leading Educators), I thought this was something I really believed in - if we can get kids to be more physically active that their academics will improve. So that is what I am trying to do, with all my PE teachers and specifically with kids who are really struggling, getting some of that exercise-induced focus back into the classroom.

What is one lesson you learned last year that you would share with a first year LE Fellow?

Make your Leading Educators time a priority. There will be a lot of pulls on your time and it would be easy to put LE stuff on the back burner, but it's equally as important if not more important than all the other stuff you have to do. It's a development of our craft that can really make significant strides with our students more so than other things we may be required to do.

Leading Educators' Statement on the Connection Between Teacher Leadership & Race in America

We here at Leading Educators are deeply saddened by the violence that took place over the past week in Baton Rouge, St. Paul, and Dallas. The senseless deaths of Alton Sterling, Philando Castile, and the 5 police officers in Dallas only underscore the deep racial divide that continues to plague our communities and, ultimately, our democracy.

Leading Educators Receives $300,000 Commitment from Baptist Community Ministries to Support the Teacher Leader Teams Fellowship

NEW ORLEANS, July 7, 2016 – Leading Educators has received a $300,000 commitment from Baptist Community Ministries (BCM) to support the instructional leadership development of teacher leaders across Greater New Orleans over the next two years...

CEO Jonas Chartock on LEI 2016: Leading from the Core

This summer, we are doing something different and extremely exciting in New Orleans: the Leading Educators Institute 2016 is now open to educators everywhere.

Leading Educators Welcomes Dr. Pamela Puryear of Pfizer, Inc. to Board of Directors

Dear Leading Educators team, colleagues, and friends: 

Dr. Pamela Puryear

I am so pleased to announce that Pamela Puryear, Ph.D. has agreed to join the Leading Educators Board of Directors. Dr. Puryear was recently named the Senior Vice President, Chief Talent Officer at Pfizer, Inc., and, as you’ll read below, brings a wealth of expertise to our organization.

Dr. Puryear is a business leader, thought leader, and Organization Development (OD) practice leader with over 25 years of experience including 10 years in the real estate investment advisory industry, 12 years as an external OD consultant, and six years leading OD practices in Fortune 100 companies. She has worked and consulted globally and across a number of different industry sectors including financial services, healthcare, professional services, consumer products, insurance, and education.

In her role as Senior Vice President, Chief Talent Officer at Pfizer Inc., Pam is responsible for leading strategy and implementation of programs and services that impact nearly 100,000 employees globally in the areas of talent management, learning and development, employee engagement, organization culture, diversity and inclusion, and workforce analytics.

Pam's professional passion is performance excellence, and from her diverse professional experiences, she has developed a unique perspective on what creates and sustains excellence. She has worked with individuals, teams and organizations to excel by assessing needs, and offering solutions that impact performance and productivity. With an MBA and a PhD, she considers financial and human factors and how to manage both using sound organizational management thinking and focused business metrics.

In May, 2015 Pam was profiled in SHRM's HR Magazine. In 2014 she was profiled and appeared on the cover of the February issue of Chief Learning Officer magazine and was honored to be selected as an award winner in the Business Impact category for the 2014 Learning in Practice awards sponsored by Chief Learning Officer magazine. In 2012 she was the recipient of the 2012 Rising Star Award by HR Executive magazine. She has also been recognized by the Illinois Diversity Council as a Multicultural Leader in 2014 and as one of Illinois’ Most Powerful and Influential Women in 2015.  Pam is a frequent speaker at human capital conferences.

Through LinkedIn and her personal website and blog, www.JoinDrPam.com, Pam seeks to develop a virtual community of practice to keep current on how individuals, teams and enterprises work, thrive and drive toward excellence.

Pam holds a PhD in Organizational Psychology, an MBA from Harvard Business School, and a BA in Psychology with a concentration in Organizational Behavior from Yale University.

As you can probably imagine, we are beyond ecstatic that Dr. Puryear is offering her experience, expertise, and network to our work at Leading Educators.

Regards,

Jonas Chartock

Chief Executive Officer

Leading Educators

www.leadingeducators.org