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From Jack of All Trades to Master Coach

Written by Lisa Cloninger, Unit Supervisor, Mecklenburg County CDSA

My grandmother used to call me a “Jack of all trades and master of none,” which meant I knew a little about a lot of things.  I can tell you that being a “Jack of all trades” comes in handy when working in early intervention.  It helped me learn all sorts of things needed to be a service coordinator, and eventually a supervisor.  On a daily basis, we need to know how to enter service authorizations, how to kill a bug (or at least keep it from getting in your purse), how to know if pink eye is contagious, and how to support best practices when working with families in early intervention, sometimes all before 8:30 a.m.

I am happy to report that the journey has begun to be a master at something!  In February 2014, ten of our network providers (PTs, OTs, SLPs, and CBRS providers) and four CDSA staff (an Evaluator, an SC, a Senior SC, and a Supervisor) attended a day-long training in Morganton, NC to kick off the six-month-long journey to becoming a Master Coach.  M’Lisa Sheldon and Dathan Rush at the Family Infant Preschool Program (FIPP) are providing the training and supervision for the project.  Besides knowing all there is to know about coaching, they are a lot of fun!

The purpose of Master Coach training is to deepen skills in the practice of coaching and to learn how to support others who are using coaching as an interaction style with families.  We are learning how to use observation tools and coaching logs to hone our skills over the next six months.  Master Coach participants are observing each other’s practices, practicing coaching conversations, and learning how to evaluate and support other providers.  Each month, we have a two-hour webinar to review coaching logs where we have practiced “coaching the coach.”  We get a lot of one-on-one feedback and make a joint plan each month about where we want to go next with our learning.  We are just now moving into our third month on the project, and we can already see our skills improving and our excitement growing with all the new things we are learning.  The best part is, we are seeing our work with families and with each other changing in really positive ways.

This feels like something big.  As a CDSA, we have been working on improving our practices for quite some time.  Getting better at coaching as an interaction style is the next step on that journey.  We can’t wait to see where this new learning will take us!

Want to get in on the action?  We are always looking for Mecklenburg CDSA providers who would be willing to have conversations about their practice with Master Coach participants.  It is easy to participate, and we promise you will learn something and help us out, too.  Contact Elaine Aldridge at if you are interested.

Look for more blogs from other participants in the Master Coach Training in the weeks to come…

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One Response to From Jack of All Trades to Master Coach

  1. Elaine Aldridge May 16, 2014 at 1:48 pm #

    Lisa, thanks for sharing your experience with Master Coaching training. This is such a wonderful opportunity for both our providers and staff to team and to see each other in action. I will be happy to talk with any providers who would like for me to help “link them” with our Master Coach participants . You can also reach me by phone at:
    (704) 336-7536 or at the e-mail listed above.

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