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A Coach as an Indispensable Critical Friend
January 23, 2024
Love is the very foundation of relationships and of ethical encounters with and through the other.
-Lynda Stone, Professor of Education

“I think about what teachers deserve and what coaches must know and do and feel in order to become the indispensable critical friend that every educator longs to have, in order to learn and grow,” writes early childhood coach Eliana Elias, as co-author, with Olga Lacayo, of The Art of Troublemaking | El arte de crear problema. “And the more I think about this, the more lessons I find from my journey with Olga. In preparing for this journey, as in preparing for an expedition, we started with a strong desire to explore the unknown, to find better views, to experience new places. We started with trust, in ourselves and in each other. We started with reciprocity and authenticity.”

Elias shares a dozen insights, including:

  • Acknowledge when you’ve been assigned, not invited, into a center, and invite educators to shape your coaching in a way that will work well for them. Give them information about yourself, what you value, how you hope to work with and support them.

  • When working within Quality Improvement Rating Systems, become aware of all the requirements and well-versed in the assessment tools. At the same time, understand the limitations and the unintended negative consequences of such systems. Teachers and children are being assessed to death, and joy, connectivity, and love are sucked out of classrooms when we summarize “quality” as numbers on a scale.

  • Highlight values that resonate with the generous hearts that draw educators to work with young children. Help them connect their everyday actions in their classrooms with the complexity of our larger society and of being a human being.


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