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Navigating Growth: The Compass for Educational Development

Have you ever come across a magical tool that lets you unfold a journey of growth and development? 

In the vast sea of education, where the waves of change are constant, navigating towards a culture of development and growth requires a “compass” that aligns with the collective vision of the learning community. Enter the ‘Sustainability Compass’ – a tool not just for ‘environmental stewardship’ or unlocking ideas and thinking doors; it stands as a guiding light for profound growth and development, steering us toward a transformative journey in education.

Allow me to introduce myself first– Saadia Faisal, a dedicated PYP educator and a recent entrant into the world of instructional coaching. With a decade of teaching experience in international schools, I’ve embarked on a new adventure by launching my own company, ‘Adventures of PYP.’ This venture goes beyond offering online instructional coaching services; it’s a platform committed to crafting purposeful content tailored for PYP teachers.

In my journey, I’ve recognized the critical need for cultivating a thriving coaching culture—one that extends beyond the surface and delves deep into fostering a mindset of continuous growth and development. Recognizing the need to establish this sustainable system from its very foundation, we have meticulously developed a clear vision for coaching. This includes strategic plans for constructing a robust coaching program, a well-defined coaching cycle, structured coaching conversations, and a flexible coaching menu. These elements collectively form the backbone of our approach, setting the stage for a coaching culture that not only supports but propels educators toward continuous improvement and success.

In our strategic game plan, one pivotal component involves the meticulous documentation of our ideas, challenges, actions, shortcomings, successes, and values. We required a living document that can serve as a dynamic record, enabling us to navigate through our instructional coaching program effectively. To initiate this process, we turned to the Sustainability Compass, not merely as a visual thinking tool but as a captivating story map that vividly illustrates our journey in the realm of instructional coaching.

During the initial phase, we harnessed the power of the Sustainability Compass to visualize how our current status aligns with the principles of a sustainable and thriving ecosystem—comprising both the seen and unseen elements. This compass became an unexpected yet powerful guide for our instructional coaching narrative.

The big question we asked ourselves was ‘What is the role of instructional coaching in developing a culture of growth and continuous development?’ Let me walk you through the various components within each compass point we highlighted. 

compass - natureNature: In the ‘nature’ dimension of our Sustainability Compass for instructional coaching, active listening, feedback, self-assessment, and evidence form the natural developmental loops that cultivate a rich and thriving ecosystem. These components serve as the organic mechanisms, enabling educators to adapt and grow continuously. Knowledge, skills, and creativity emerge as the natural resources within this dimension, contributing to the abundance of our instructional coaching environment. It’s an interconnected ecosystem where needs, ideas, means, actions, dispositions, and vision are intertwined, creating a harmonious balance. Establishing and maintaining an authentic learning environment becomes the heartbeat of this natural dimension, fostering holistic nurturing. By actively identifying needs and recognizing the natural processes of growth, instructional coaching becomes a dynamic force, guiding educators on a journey of continuous development within the fertile landscape of the nature dimension.

compass wellbeingWell-being: In the ‘well-being’ dimension of our Sustainability Compass, instructional coaching emerges as a compassionate protagonist, deeply invested in the holistic well-being of educators. Motivation, goal-setting, and satisfaction intertwine, creating a supportive environment where educators take ownership of their professional growth. The coaching process fosters empathy and compassion, recognizing the individual journey of each educator. Confidentiality is a cornerstone, providing a safe space for open dialogue. Celebration of success becomes a ritual, acknowledging achievements and reinforcing a positive coaching culture. Emotional support is woven into the fabric of coaching conversations, nurturing the emotional well-being of educators. The gradual release of responsibility empowers educators, allowing them to take the lead in their development journey. Mindfulness is integrated, fostering self-awareness and a reflective mindset. In this well-being dimension, instructional coaching becomes a guiding force, ensuring that the emotional, professional, and personal well-being of educators is at the forefront of the coaching experience.

compass economyEconomy: In the ‘economy’ dimension of our Sustainability Compass, instructional coaching emerges as a strategic protagonist, keenly focused on generating productive gains and ensuring a high return on investment for the educational ecosystem. The coaching process becomes an invaluable asset in the quest for reduced turnover, offering professional development and support that enhances educator satisfaction and commitment. Strategic resource allocation and budgeting are central components, ensuring that resources are efficiently utilized to yield maximum benefits. The investment in human capital becomes a priority, as coaching aims to develop and retain skilled and motivated educators. Moreover, instructional coaching actively engages with technology and innovation, integrating these elements seamlessly into the educational landscape. This economic perspective highlights the proactive role of instructional coaching in fostering a sustainable and thriving educational economy, where investments in professional growth result in long-term gains and innovation becomes a driving force for continuous improvement.

compass societySociety: In the ‘society’ dimension of our Sustainability Compass, instructional coaching stands as a collaborative protagonist, fostering a community where diversity and inclusion flourish. The coaching process embraces challenges as opportunities for collective growth, promoting a culture of shared responsibilities among educators. Peer and co-teaching models become integral, creating a network of collaborative learning. Coaching meetings serve as communal gatherings that strengthen relationships and build trust within the educational community. The focus on student success becomes a shared goal, with collaborative assessment and reflection serving as pillars of the coaching journey. Through empowerment initiatives, instructional coaching aims to reduce dependency within the community, fostering a self-sufficient and collaborative educational society. In this dimension, instructional coaching emerges not only as a professional development tool but as a catalyst for building a resilient and empowered community that thrives on shared knowledge, diverse perspectives, and a collective commitment to student success.

The Interconnected Dance: Seeing the Compass in Action

One can already see the intricate connections that transform this compass into a dynamic and sustainable structure, showcasing the alignment of various components of our coaching program within each of the four compass points. Empathy within instructional coaching fosters a supportive environment, addressing the well-being of educators. Empathetic coaching practices contribute to job satisfaction, reducing turnover rates by creating a positive and supportive work culture. A growth mindset cultivated through coaching promotes resilience, adaptability, and continuous learning. Educators with a growth mindset are more likely to stay engaged, reducing burnout and turnover.

Viewing educators’ knowledge, skills, and creativity as natural resources acknowledges their intrinsic value to the educational ecosystem. Leveraging educators’ skills and creativity as valuable resources enhances collaboration within the educational ecosystem, creating a symbiotic relationship that supports shared goals. Empowering educators through coaching fosters a sense of agency and collaboration, contributing to the development of a collaborative learning community.

Assessments and reflections contribute to optimizing the use of human resources by identifying strengths and areas for improvement and aligning professional development efforts with organizational goals. The cyclical nature of assessment, reflection, feedback, and evidence is organic and aligns with the principles of continuous improvement, supporting the sustainability of educational practices.  

We have imagined the Sustainability Compass as a dance floor where the various dimensions waltz together, creating a harmonious symphony of educational development. The nature of coaching is akin to a delicate ballet, embracing the principles of sustainability. Each pirouette represents the growth of educators, the economic investment in human capital, the collaborative dance of the school community, and the nurturing of well-being. 

As educators and the learning community embark on this dance, the compass becomes a choreographer, ensuring that every move is purposeful and interconnected. The nature dimension intertwines with the economy as educators blossom into valuable human capital. Society joins the dance, creating collaborative communities that resonate with the well-being of all participants. In this dance, instructional coaching emerges as the North Star, guiding the educational community toward a culture of development and growth. The Sustainability Compass illuminates the interconnectedness of these dimensions, emphasizing that sustainable educational practices are not isolated acts but synchronized performances. 

In conclusion, the Sustainability Compass is not just a tool; it’s a narrative, a story of growth, collaboration, and well-being. Instructional coaching, as the protagonist in this tale, leads educators and the school community on a transformative journey. Together, they dance to the rhythm of sustainable practices, creating a culture where development and growth are not just aspirations but the very fabric of educational existence.

The North Star: A Culture of Development and Growth

As we navigate further on our journey of growth and development, the ‘Sustainability Compass’ evolves into a dynamic tool, ever ready to extend, reflect, and modify. Our ideas, like explorers, might venture into different compass points or gracefully straddle the borderlines between adjacent dimensions. This compass, far from being static, becomes a living document that accommodates more challenges and ideas, continuously shaping our thinking and practices.

In this ongoing process, new connections and concepts will surface, guiding us through the ever-changing landscape of instructional coaching culture. We acknowledge that certain dimensions may take precedence over others, and we aim to create a harmonious balance between the rising and falling practices. The context, challenges, and needs of our educational ecosystem will be the compass’s true north, guiding us in our quest for sustainability. 

Our journey with the compass does not end here; instead, it marks the beginning of a dynamic and responsive action plan. We commit to regularly infusing new ideas into this compass, ensuring that our instructional coaching culture remains adaptive, innovative, and aligned with the evolving needs of our educational community. The ‘Sustainability Compass’ becomes not just a tool but a continuous process, symbolizing our commitment to a culture of growth and development that thrives on adaptability and resilience. 

As this compass continues to evolve, I look forward to returning and sharing the ongoing process of our learning journey. The path of discovery and growth is perpetual, and our commitment to this dynamic journey remains steadfast. The learning journey continues…


Picture of Saadia Faisal

Saadia Faisal

PYP educator and a fresh Instructional coach, thriving and learning from self, culture and community.

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