How I Have Benefited from Coaching

Alison Lobron, Inclusion Coordinator, Temple Dorshei Tzedek, Newton, MA

Strengthening practice through feedback from classroom observations

Two years ago, my synagogue’s religious school created an Inclusion Coordinator position, and I have been fortunate to occupy this role since its inception. Working as an Inclusion Coordinator is exciting and challenging. There are times I encounter situations where I don’t know the best way to proceed.  Collaborating with a coach from Gateways has been an invaluable learning opportunity for me this year. 

Each time I meet with my coach, I share some challenging interaction or problem I’ve been wrestling with since the last time we met.  My coach listens patiently as I describe the details of the situation. Once I’m done sharing, she asks very specific, clarifying questions. Through our discussions, I am often able to see the situation in a new light, and find a path forward towards a solution that is much more thoughtful and creative than I would have come up with on my own.

While this problem-solving process would be valuable in and of itself, my work with my coach goes deeper than that. This year, we chose to focus together on the development of my own personal leadership skills. And so, while each coaching session starts with a careful study of whatever case I bring to the table, the session does not end when the problem is resolved. 

Throughout our sessions, my coach will always ask me, “What skill or special lens are you bringing to this situation? How does your lens help you see the situation in a way that is different from your colleagues or constituents? How can you effectively communicate what you are seeing?” These discussions have helped me appreciate my own skill set in a new way. My work with my coach has also given me confidence to advocate for my position at times when I might otherwise have given in to self-doubt. My coaching sessions will come to a close at the end of this year; but the impact of my work with my coach will be part of my professional identity for years to come.

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