Coaching In Early Intervention
The term coaching is seen increasingly these days in business, adult learning and motivational literature. The image that comes to mind is one of a team working together toward a common goal with someone serving in the role of providing guidance and feedback. As applied to early childhood intervention, coaching is not a model for how families and professionals work together. Rather, it is best thought of as a style or manner of interacting with families, caregivers and colleagues that is designed to promote a sense of confidence and competence in the recipients. The Early Childhood Coaching Handbook (Rush and Sheldon, 2013) defines coaching as “an adult learning strategy in which the coach promotes the learner’s (coachee’s) ability to reflect on his or her actions as a means to determine the effectiveness of an action or practice and develop a plan for refinement and use of the action in immediate and future situations” (p.8). Looked at this way, coaching reflects a supportive relationship that develops over time between the coach and the coachee in which learning is consistently achieved and refined. Through this relationship, the early intervention professional is able to most effectively convey the knowledge and expertise that they have in situations and in ways that families identify as most supportive.
Coaching has emerged as an evidence-based practice based on key concepts and principles found in the early childhood education literature. It is as much a process as it is a practice. While there is some variance in descriptions of how the process unfolds, it is generally thought that coaching involves five key qualities or characteristics in practice (Rush and Sheldon, 2013):
- Joint Planning – an agreed-upon plan between the coach and coachee as to what they will work on and in what routines or activities
- Observation – examination of another person’s actions or practices to be used to develop new skills, strategies, or ideas
- Action – Spontaneous or planned events that occur within the context of a real life situation that provides the coachee with opportunities to practice refine or analyze new or existing skills
- Reflection – analysis of existing strategies to determine how the strategies are consistent with evidence based practices and how they may need to be implemented without change or modified to achieve the intended outcome(s)
- Feedback – Information provided by the coach that is based on his or her direct observations of the coachee, actions reported by the coachee, or information shared by the coachee and that is designed to expand the coachee’s current level of understanding about a specific evidence based practice or to affirm the coachee’s thoughts or actions related to the intended outcome(s)