States of Being: The What Why and How of Coaching Urgent School Leaders​

The Why

Outcomes are the result of actions we take. We coach to the transformative end in mind that gets to the outcomes, because outcomes can change. For example: An end in mind is to create conditions for students, staff, and families to thrive. An outcome might be low attrition. Then, it might shift to high, successful college attendance, or family engagement, or strong literacy achievement. Coaching requires us to be Present to the process

Supporting States of Being

The How

Step 1

Step 2

  • Imagine the person at a moment when you saw her* succeeding.

  • Inhale 4 counts/exhale 8 counts: Breathe in listen/breathe out  compassion or love


Step 3

  • Trust the process: Remain open and present to the How of getting to a resolution

  • Understand that stories change as they unfold, therefore outcomes can change

  • Work toward transformation so your colleague can apply what she learns to other situations


Step 4

  • Commit to guiding your colleague to finding her own solution rather than driving towards your prescribed outcome

  • Ask nonjudgmental questions to collect data, build trust and allow your colleague to think and talk her way to resolution and aha moments

  • Check in with your feelings before checking out with a response, to manage triggers and judgment

  • Silently name the emotion or judgment so it doesn’t overwhelm thinking

  • Focus on the individual’s development, not your need to solve the problem

  • Breathe to reset


Close by asking: What's clearer to you now?

This works with students, too.

Potential Traps

  • Certainty that your answer is the only right one

  • Believing that progress only comes from telling rather than asking

  • Being impatient

  • Focusing only on results

  • Viewing people as obstacles not allies


*In each State of Being, I will toggle among pronouns She, They, and He.

States of Being: Linda Belans, EdD