Master Coaching 5

A Tale of Two Coaches

Written by Stacy Campbell, MS, CCC-SLP Regional Clinical Supervisor, and Michaela Greene, MS, CCC-SLP Clinical Compliance Specialist, both with Speechcenter, Inc.; Introduction by Lisa Cloninger, Unit Supervisor, Mecklenburg County CDSA

In February 2014, ten of our network providers and four CDSA staff kicked off the six-month-long journey to becoming Master Coaches. M’Lisa Sheldon and Dathan Rush at the Family Infant Preschool Program (FIPP) are providing the training and supervision for the project, and we are now past the halfway mark in our training.  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.  Back in May, we posted the first blog in this series, From Jack of All Trades to Master Coach. Stacy Campbell and Michaela Greene are two of the participants in the Master Coach Training, and they both work with Speechcenter, Inc., a provider in the CDSA Network. For the second installment in this blog series about Master Coach Training, check out their stories about how the training is impacting them and their agency:

Stacy Campbell – Since I first began practicing in early intervention 9 years ago, my therapy sessions have changed dramatically.  From the early days of entering homes, opening toy bags, and being ‘quiet so mommy can sleep,’ my sessions transitioned into helping parents prepare meals, walking older siblings to the school bus, and even troubleshooting potty training obstacles.  When I began training to become a Master Coach. I knew I still had a lot to learn.  Terms like ‘adult learning,’ ‘reflection,’ and ‘feedback’ all began to become integrated into my vocabulary, and when I was coaching other coaches, it felt like I was really starting to get it.  I had this coaching style down pat!

When Michaela and I decided to provide an in-service to our staff regarding coaching and natural learning environment practices, we put our heads together.  Since I had been practicing coaching every day, it just made sense for Michaela to videotape a session of me showing off my newly perfected skills.  As soon as I watched myself and read through my ‘coaching log,’ I was shocked.  Where were the strategies I had perfected?  The reflection questions I had been trained to ask?  Why did I jump in and give suggestions over and over, rather than helping the parent explore her thoughts and ideas?  The session was a mix of old and new intervention styles, but definitely not the perfect coaching session I was sure I had conducted.  I was discouraged at first.  Michaela and I talked through how I could’ve changed certain things. I began to start to think about what I could be doing differently to better support the parent and create long-lasting changes in each child I serve.  The discouragement I initially felt turned into proactive ideas and a new plan for my approach during therapy sessions.  In the end, I needed to be coached to become a better coach myself.  I needed to see myself and hear my own words to know that I wasn’t actually practicing what I thought I was practicing.  This is hard.  It’s not a quick fix, and it’s not an overnight change.  It’s unfamiliar and awkward and can really take each of us out of our comfort zone. This is change, and change is inevitable.  Embrace it and reach out to service coordinators, fellow providers, and to the Master Coaches.  Ask them to watch sessions and give honest feedback.  It will be the most helpful experience each of us can have!

Michaela Greene – I clearly remember having nightmares in college about showing up for a   class and not being prepared for a test or project that was due.  Well, in February, my nightmare became reality.  I would have told you I was prepared, but it didn’t take me long to realize that I was “late” to the Early Intervention party.  The other Master Coach participants were so easily using the terms “natural learning environment practices,” and they knew about coaching.  My realizations from that day were, “I’ve got to educate myself on all these terms!” and “How am I going to be a Master Coach when most (if not all) of the SLPs I work with aren’t ‘Coaches’ to begin with?”  I had 3 months to educate myself and create an in-service about Natural Learning Environment Practices and Coaching.  It wasn’t until 2 weeks prior to the in-service that I had another realization…. “How can I be a Master Coach and educate others about these practices if I’ve never used these practices myself?”

My role at Speechcenter doesn’t really allow time for me to carry my own caseload. However, I made the time and took a CDSA referral, completed an evaluation, and provided a therapy session. With the parents’ permission, I taped and edited my very first coaching therapy session to show as part of my presentation.  On May 31st, armed with a PowerPoint presentation, 5 videos, and cupcakes, Stacy and I presented Natural Learning Environment Practices and Coaching to a room full of the best and brightest SLPs I’ve ever known.  Some of the SLPs present had heard of these practices, and some of them had not.  One SLP wrote: “I explained coaching with one mom today and we decided to try it out and see how it goes.  Tomorrow we are doing therapy outside with his siblings.”  I’ve also had SLPs call me and tell me about how leaving their therapy bag in the car was “easy and just made sense.”  Implementing natural learning environment practices and coaching is a journey that takes knowledge, skill, and bravery.  Once you arm yourself with tools of child interest, everyday activities, parent responsiveness, and leave your therapy bag in the car, the possibilities are endless.


Want to know more about coaching?  Check out these Common Misperceptions About Coaching in Early Intervention.  Need more info about the research?  Click here for the Evidence-Based Definition of Coaching Practices.

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One Response to A Tale of Two Coaches

  1. John Ellis July 1, 2014 at 12:15 pm #

    Stacy and Michaela…thank you for being brave in trying something new and for being even braver in sharing your “less than perfect results” with the rest of us. It is through experiences like this that we truely are able to learn new things even though our desires most of the time are that it could be easier. Thanks for helping the rest of us learn from your experience!

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