A unique feature of the Dignitas model for school transformation is our coaching approach.

Rather than simply provide training to educators, Dignitas also coaches school leaders and teachers to implement best practices in teaching and school management. Coaching focuses on the practical application of skills and strategies.

Jenifer and Hellen are part of the Ustadi cohort in Nairobi. When I first visited their school for coaching, they did not understand what coaching was about. The first thing Jenifer told me when I got to the school was, “Just ask me my questions so that I finish up with you, or do you want me to fill a form for you?” They were surprised when they realized that all I needed was to understand their school more and to offer the support they needed. At the time, they were struggling to give their teachers feedback. The two leaders noted that the classroom observations they conducted created significant negative reactions from their teachers, some teachers even resigned. After our coaching conversation, I discovered that Jenifer and Hellen only gave their teachers critical feedback after observations. They only pointed out what the teachers did not do well, and this sometimes could be followed up with a warning letter. The teachers got scared and this practice interfered with the relationship between the school leaders and teachers.

Three months into coaching, their relationship with their teachers improved. The leaders shared how they changed their approach after undergoing the Ustadi training and learning the best coaching strategies and methods of supporting adult learners. They observed the teachers’ classes and now took interest on what the teachers were good at while supporting them in their areas of improvement. They modelled the best practices allowing the teachers to also observe their classes and give them feedback. The teachers felt supported and this improved their relationship. They delegated roles to their teachers and now they are working together as a team. With this great transformation, Jenifer and Hellen received the best coaches award during their graduation!

Our goal at Dignitas is to achieve sustainable school transformation that leads to greater opportunities for the next generation. Coaching is core to embedding creative, innovative, and systematic changes within a school and critical to the Dignitas approach. When coaches and educators work together, change is possible!

Contributor: Valary Oyugi – Leadership Coach