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I really appreciate Elena Aguilar's storytelling and writing style. I read this book at the right time for the work we were doing. It was practical and easily applicable to my work. Highly recommend this book!
Elena's storytelling makes this a pleasure to read, even with her tough reflection questions and thoughtful prompts. She writes with such compassion, conviction, and purpose, and inspires the reader to take action in every conversation. It should be mandatory reading for all educators, and all human beings. She provides a road map for how to do better.
I very much appreciated this book with its sustained coaching metaphor of a bridge. The image of the coach and coaches traveling together towards the coachee’s preferred destination is something that I will tuck away in the depths of my practice. I highly recommend this book for its practical applications to instructional and equitable excellence in classrooms. As a high school Principal in Ontario, Canada, there are many connections to my ongoing work.
Elena Aguilar has given instructional coaches and the education world an incredible gift in her newest book. Exercises help readers begin the journey of examining our own mindsets toward race and how these mindsets can make white privilege and racism invisible. Aguilar cautions that learning about to recognize racism is a lifelong learning journey. She explains that wherever we are in our equity learning journey, we can and must work deliberately to strengthen our eyesight for patterns of inequity and our toolkit for disrupting these patterns. Aguilar argues that it is critical for coaches to do this hard and uncomfortable internal work if they are to be effective in coaching for equity. She states bluntly that those of us who have grown up with white privilege have much learning to do and tells us: “Remember: It’s not your fault that things are the way they are, but it is your responsibility to do something about them” (p. 21).
According to Aguilar, coaching is an effective vehicle for building equitable schools because teaching in ways that disrupt patterns of inequity requires learning, and coaching is a structure that supports teacher learning. She states that coaches should have coaching conversations about equity as frequently as possible and says, “Coaching for equity requires that we manage our discomfort around discussing race and class and identity differences. As we normalize these conversations, we normalize discomfort, which makes these conversations more comfortable” (p. 207).
Aguilar tells two extended coaching stories to illustrate how coaching for equity looks and sounds. She shows us how, when we coach for equity, we must coach for both behavior and belief change simultaneously. Coaching for belief change builds teachers’ capacity to think and act from an equity mindset in novel situations they will face when the coach is out of the picture. Coaching for behavior change builds self-efficacy and agency.
Aguilar demonstrates that equity-focused coaching requires that we navigate emotions; this is new but necessary territory for many coaches and teachers. She includes helpful supports for recognizing and engaging with emotions that are likely to surface in coaching conversations related to equity. Aguilar shows how addressing emotions is critical to altering racist beliefs and building empathy. She explains, “Systems of oppression rely on us disconnecting from our own emotions (including guilt or regret) so that we don’t feel the emotions of other people” (p. 193).
The practical strategies and tools offered throughout the book (e.g., What to Say When You Hear Racist Comments; Responding to Resistance) will be much appreciated by coaches as they engage in the important work of promoting equity in classrooms and schools. Appendices offer even more tools including a comprehensive equity rubric and an extensive list of resources for learning more.
Aguilar is candid about the difficulty of the work ahead of us, but she also helps us see why this work is critical. “Schools,” she states, “can be places of healing and liberation. They can be a microcosm for a more just and equitable society, a place where adults and children learn to be together in healthy community, a place where we learn about ourselves and others” (p. 27). I know already I will reach for this book again and again for guidance and inspiration in my own learning journey and my support of others.
Coaching for Equity is a powerful must-read for anyone (not only coaches, not only educators) who wants to live, work, and interact in ways that promote equity and better understand the impacts of inequity, racism, bias, and white supremacy culture. Reading the book feels like Elena is with you, coaching you, providing the right combination of nudging and support as you uncover challenging truths and questions and plan for growth and change in your own practice and the systems within which you operate. The information about how to have (healing, not difficult!) conversations and respond to racist statements and actions is unbelievably helpful. Elena is a beautiful writer, storyteller, and researcher. Her books are readable and inspiring. For me, this one is also life-changing.
I have been recommending this book to everyone! My copy is highlighted in more than one color, marked up with notes in the margins, and has post-it note flags sticking out of the sides and top. I have read parts of it more than once, and know that I will return to it to refer to and to read again. Everyone I have talked to that has read it has found it profoundly moving and helpful.
Please -- for yourself, for the people you love, for the people you work with, for our world -- get this book and read it. You will be so glad you did.
This book has been truly transformational both in terms of coaching and my personal life. Elena masterfully lays the groundwork to develop deep, lasting professional relationships that are founded on trust, empathy, and respect while shedding light on the windows of opportunity and timing for knowing when and how far to push clients to explore their beliefs and ways of being that contribute to inequity in their classrooms.
Elena's honesty, vulnerability, and insight in describing her own personal experiences in the coaching for equity process are extremely valuable in understanding how to walk the walk. I have followed her advice and had some amazing conversations with clients that have allowed them the time and space to explore how their own experiences have influenced their teaching practices in ways they had not previously understood. My clients have created their own meaningful and impactful goals based on our conversations and are working to transform their practice as a result, myself included!
I have used her gentle but firm approach to addressing tough subjects with my own family members and it has truly been transformational.
I cannot recommend this book highly enough. It has benefits far outside of the coaching realm.
Coaching for Equity - Conversations that Change Practice by Elena Aguilar is a must have for school leaders committed to building more equitable learning environments for students . . . and the educators who support them.
The author presents a powerful and thoughtful message about the foundations of work leaders at all levels can do by sharing real talk about the realities of hurdles that face us in endeavors large and small with supporting others in understanding racism, equity, and inclusiveness. Aguilar exposes and supports the very nature of our journey as leaders and fuels our ability to champion equity in every conversation we have with those around us.
The powerful metaphor Aguilar presents in the book of a bridge from our current reality to ideal reality is one that encapsulates so much of the work we're pondering and dedicating time to as leaders in schools (equity, resilience, leadership, instruction, and teams).
As a veteran school leader, I can't think of a better resource than Coaching for Equity for 2021!
Elena's book "Coaching for Equity" is a must-have book! I participated in a two month book club with her Bright Morning group. We were limited to read a handful of chapters due to time, but the chapters I did read gave me multiple deep insights as an Educator, Coach and a Learner. In which made me reflect on my own practices. I learned more about the history of race, systems of oppression and how White Supremacy was created. I became curious of my own gaps from her "Mind the Gap" graphic and understanding how to be an effective Transformative Coach. Lastly, it confirmed my belief to always interrupt the status quo through being a conscious Educator/Coach/Person, teaching multiple perspectives (esp. history) to my students and colleagues, taking time to reflect and learn and, most importantly, advocate against systems of oppression (racism, sexism, ablism etc). Having difficult conversations with people is the first step for change. Get your copy of Coaching for Equity soon!