The Maine Department of Education (DOE) Rethinking Responsive Education Ventures (RREV ) initiative is a U.S. DOE grant that provides federal funds to Maine’s educators, allowing for innovative, integrative learning opportunities to be incorporated into curriculums. Supported by the Office of Innovation at the Maine DOE, the RREV grant has been implemented for the past two years. At each RREV awardee school, the pilot implementation process is overseen by a RREV coach, who offers guidance and support to the pilot teams. This summer, these coaches met for a two-day Coaches Summit, and this is what they learned.
One year ago, the RREV coaches met for the first annual coaches summit, establishing it as a place to introduce the coaching framework – provided by thought partners at the Comprehensive Center. The coaches summit acted as a place for coaches to connect, and to introduce new coaches to the coaching process. In the latest meeting, these coaches had lived the framework for a year, and came together to share their experiences and learn from both the RREV team and each other. The goal of the first coaches summit was to understand the coaching framework, but this year the RREV team aimed to deepen their understanding of the art of coaching for the coming year.
In the past year, the focus for coaches was centered around building the habit of meeting with their teams. Within this regular connection, coaches utilized the structure of the pre-established coaching framework – consisting of 6 steps to incorporate into their pilot interactions. The first step of the coaching framework is centered around understanding the pilot, the second applies a logic model, and the third analyzes the data. The final steps are focused on sustainability, as the fourth strengthens the innovation, the fifth facilitates stakeholder engagement, and the sixth supports planning for growth and sustainability. These steps offer guidance to coaches, and ensure that pilot schools are meeting all of the components for a successful implementation process.
At the coaches summit, the first day was structured around a reflection on the ‘what’ of coaching, with the second day focused on the ‘how’, or ‘art’ of coaching. The purpose of this summit was to serve as professional development, as well as a time for coaches to engage in collaborative brainstorming. On day one, coaches were able to reflect on their experience through a journey map, which outlined the steps of the coaching framework, and allowed coaches to rate their level of comfort with each step. They also learned about a variety of tools to support innovation teams such as logic models, retrospectives, and more. On the second day, coaches engaged in scenarios that might arise during the implementation process. They brainstormed and discussed how they could support their pilot teams through these scenarios, and received guidance from the RREV team surrounding this process.
In the coming year, the coaches will use their knowledge from the coaches summit, as well as their coaching experience thus far, to aid RREV awardee schools as they continue to implement their pilot and focus on the sustainability of the pilot’s impact. As the coaches look forward to this next year, they are well equipped to evolve and refine the coaching process, with a shifted focus towards the ‘art’ of coaching, rather than the ‘what’ of coaching. In the years following, the coaching process utilized with the RREV initiative will be further explored, to aid in ongoing and future initiatives.