To more accurately assess the learning processes within the department, I have begun by investigating existing practices, their origins, and the importance of the practices held by the constituents. I have had the opportunity to participate as an observer in some meetings; and, more recently, as a participant in others.
Within the special education department of the district, routines including weekly coordinators' meetings and monthly psychologists' meetings are practiced. The director leads these meetings; an agenda is provided, and virtually all matters presented are business-oriented.
Certain coordinators have also elected to conduct meetings of certain groups that they oversee. This includes, for example, Occupational Therapists' meetings, Autism Leadership Team meetings, etc. These meetings are not an expectation of the director. Coordinators that choose to hold these meetings typically provide an agenda. The agenda may be utilitarian or flexible... or a combination of both.
A coaching model is followed throughout each of the layers within all of the instructional departments of the district. This long standing district tradition is adhered to in the special education department. Coaching sessions are, typically, one-on-one meetings between, for example, the director and a coordinator. Coachings are held from once a week to once a month, and are conversational in format. Topics covered during these discussions may address questions from the subordinate, students on their case load, guidance from the director (including correction), and other matters.
In addition, certain sub-groups (e.g.: speech therapists, etc.) meet by choice to discuss best practice, research based strategies, and other job-alike topics.
While there is apparent purpose and a positive outcome in the structures and routines observed thus far, some questions continue to surface...
- Given the predominantly task-oriented emphasis and energy of group meetings, and because coaching sessions encourage individualized support, how are efforts toward organizational learning accomplished in the larger group? Across groups?
- Does sufficient learning occur within the coaching model to accommodate for such a potential disconnect?
- What - if any - differences can be observed between coaching relationships involving leaders that desire to do their jobs and those that want to keep their jobs?