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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: Conversations that Change Practice" by Elena Aguilar is a maddening book as some parts made me emotional with recognition and regret while others parts make assumptions and miss the mark.
That said, as an Educational Coach, Elena says to make 5 positive comments for every negative, so I will do the same.
1) Anyone who has received coaching or started teaching would want a coach like Elena, making you look inward and find answers for yourself.
2) I agree that teachers have implicit bias and the use of video with her clients helps everyone recognize that.
3) You can relate to her clients and root for them. They remind you that we are all still growing and learning.
4) Coaching for Equity is a great concept because we make sure that we do not let any kids slip through the cracks.
5) Her adult learners get defensive and sad, as new teachers do, but Elena uses that to her advantage. She also knows when emotions reach outside of her purview into a therapist's territory.
6) There are a ton of typos in this book, none that interfere with comprehension, but enough that it will distract frequent readers that are used to heavy editing. There are probably typos in this post, but I am not getting paid
7) As a teacher, I will now acknowledge how things are making me feel and that should help with how I react. Why do I flip out on kids and from where does the frustration originate?
8) Acknowledging identity shows you who you want to be as a teacher and why. Recognizing your identity will give you the skills to know who your students truly are.
9) My first mentor always led with questions and it shows me how good I had it. If you focus on you, the kids get on your nerves less and you feel equipped for anything.
10) When I was a younger, better teacher, I asked kids for feedback. Aguilar shows you how powerful this tool is and inspires you to do it again.
11) I now understand the importance of restorative practices and recognize their benefits to both students and teachers.
12) The book focuses so much of what is wrong that it doesn't tell you how to prevent problems proactively. For example, how to we decrease suspensions and keep a safe school? I agree that suspensions don't work, but what does? Aguilar explains this by telling you to read one of her other books, which is a quick way to assure that I will not read your other books. Also, her impression of SROs leading the school to prison pipeline fails to see how the presence of officers can increase trust in the police force.
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.
The thing I love most about Aguilar’s text is her approach to supporting coaches. She always identifies the problems that impede on student achievement- through anecdotes and scenarios that I can relate to. Then she gets to the heart of the matter by analyzing a person’s belief system. She then gives the reader an opportunity to meet the challenge- in ways that leave both a coach and the client- in some way- transformed. Chapter 6: How to Change Someone’s Mind- really struck home with me and helped me realize that coaches and clients are both in a transforming process through this type of work. If you’re interested in a text that’s going to help you reflect on your practices, give you sentence frames for tough conversations, and help you create systems that facilitate growth and change for yourself and your clients, I believe this text is worth a read. The thought of providing equity to all children is the driving force behind this book, so if you’re not one for social change, or you don’t see how students walk into classrooms where conditions for learning are not designed for them to succeed, then this is definitely the book for you. Inequitable conditions are not just about economic status.
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.