Coaching is a core element of Dignitas school partnerships, one we often refer to as a our ‘secret sauce’.  With COVID-19, we’re coaching remotely, but here’s a flashback from Dignitas Leadership Coach Justus, highlighting the impact of walking the coaching journey with one of his assigned school teams.  

As we work hard to learn what works with remote coaching, we look forward to getting back into schools and classrooms like those of Ark Education Center!

One of the opening statements by Elena Aguilar in her book Art of Coaching reads, “Coaching can be a key lever for transforming school culture, for providing teachers with the support and nurturing they deserve, for retaining effective teachers, and for creating equitable schools where every child thrives.”

To affirm that coaching can tremendously shift instruction and school leadership in the direction of best practice, I would like to focus one of Dignitas’ supported schools, ‘Ark Education Center’ where teachers and children changed how they work as a result of coaching.

Mrs Bentina Apwoka, the school director and a trained teacher, mentioned one time that she did not see the importance of going back to class to teach after stopping for a few years. With coaching, she has returned to the classroom.  When I asked her why, she said, “It’s through training and coaching by Dignitas that I have learned ‘you cannot give what you don’t have.  These days I feel more relevant to teachers and learners as I can engage realistically in their work. I can see great change in performance and behavior”.

Teacher George is a great teacher now who had very little formal, pedagogical training before interacting with Dignitas. At the start of this journey he was a strict, harsh teacher whose aim was to instill fear in children. Learners didn’t even whisper in class as that is what he considered indiscipline.  However, with training and coaching support he had a paradigm shift in children’s behavior management.  Today, he is the friendliest teacher, and the learner’s performance has improved, children are confident in their classwork, and his relationship with learners has improved.

Head Teacher Boniface was initially very reluctant to be coached, but recently had this to say,” Coaching has built will, skill, knowledge, and capacity because it has gone deep where no professional development has gone before.  Today I can testify that I and the other teachers trained by Dignitas are showing growth in intellect, behaviors, practices, beliefs, values, and feelings of an educator. Coaching has created a relationship where teachers are feeling cared for by school leadership, and are therefore able to access and implement new knowledge. Coaching has enabled conditions in which deep reflection and learning is taking place, where teachers are taking risks to change their practice, where powerful conversations can take place and where growth is recognized and celebrated.”

Coaching has transformed these teachers, this school, and the opportunity for these children to thrive and succeed!  Thank you Coach Justus for sharing this experience!