Posted by: Michel Baker | July 22, 2015

NTPRS 2015 Day 3: Coaching through War and Peace

We all know that receiving and/or observing coaching is an integral part of getting better at TPRS.  The struggles I was permitted to have in front of twenty people with a coach several years ago made me into the better practitioner that I am today.  I appreciated the coach arresting my actions right in the middle of them and redirecting me to make it be all about the students, while I was also being made to feel valuable in the process.  My coach did this by being completely fascinated with all things involved, from the grand scheme all the way down to the minute detail.  He enabled me to really begin doing TPRS by redirecting me, hijacking me in the middle of where I was headed away from the goal…kind of how a director guides his actors to perform effectively, as he sees fit.

The experience reminded me of how a boat pulls a beginning water skier up onto training skis for the very first time.  I could not get myself up on top of the water.  I needed a pull and was glad to have the coach and the support of so many other people in the room rooting for me, struggling through it with me.

After my turn was over that evening, I got to witness the same things with the next of my fellow coachees, but this time with a lot less internal stress inside of me.  I could observe the practitioners getting stuck and being allowed to stay stuck for a little while before the coach skillfully and caringly jumped in to redirect.  The time that was allowed to lapse while the practitioner went fumbling for what to do next gave all of us time to consider what we would do if we were on the floor, and it gave the practitioner the time needed to try and work it out on his own, first.  When the coach would finally redirect the practitioner aloud, we could either sigh with relief that our intuition had been well founded, or be guided into a new direction of thinking.

Musicians cannot play an entire symphony from start to finish without stopping to fix problems, and sometimes they must be allowed to struggle through them themselves. Gentle Coaching offers practitioners a choice: some prefer that their coaches whisper their redirectives, and others do not mind their comments being shared aloud for the benefit of the group.  As an observer struggling to learn, I want to know what to do to perform better and am willing to be interrupted in order to receive the guidance, and I want that others may hear it, as well.  There are many options available, and I believe beginners will grab onto any of them they are offered in order to keep on top of the water until learning to ski on our own.

Tonight in the War and Peace Room, I also got a sample of what it is like to watch a practitioner battle it out with no redirection at all, making it look effortless and very entertaining.  I want to encourage as many of us as possible to be willing for our coaches’ comments to be made aloud for the benefit of the group in order that we may all learn together, and yet also to respect the needs of those who wish to be coached more gently.  There are so many different ways to coach, and each of us is unique in how we best get the coaching.

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