Out of Balance Reality
Vivian noticed that her responsibilities as a teacher represented a more complex leadership role than she’d envisioned. She felt stressed and overwhelmed. This was not what she had imagined teaching would be like.
Greater Awareness through Visual Art Discovery Processes
The International Coach Federation Code of Ethics, 2006 International Coach Academy Pty. Ltd, states that the coaching process pertains to: ‘…support[ing] clients in making their own assessment to determine if their lives are in alignment or not and to ‘…generate and release energy for those actions and activities and relationships that truly matter in their lives by making space for an intentional process or choosing where to place time, energy, money etc.
“Karen Haddon, states: ‘the unfolding of the art-making journey reveals truths and insights all the way along if we allow ourselves to stay present and pay attention.” (In Beckman, B., and Paintner, C. (2010). Awakening the Creative Spirit: Bringing the Arts to Spiritual Direction. Morehouse Publishing: New York, p. 90. )
Vivian discovered she was in transition between her current role as teacher and her previous one as clinician. This would take some time and required resources and support. She would need to go through her own learning process: Adult Learning Theory.
Visual Arts processes represent one coaching tool that would work within various coaching models as a catalyst for dialogue between the coach and the client to uncover underlying beliefs and values that may be difficult for clients to verbally their vision. It focusses client reflection of their experiences on future learning and change. Using this approach is in keeping with dialogic and creative coaching processes. It deepens, heightens, increases awareness, understanding of self, brings clarity, dialogue with their own environment keeps the client true to their values; without this, close alignment, clients can stray from their intentions and or be interrupted in their forward movement. Such clarification leads to client action steps and processes.
Let’s look at Vivian’s Fantasy nurse educator role:
- Is the best teacher ever even though teaching a group of students is new
- Knows everything and can answer every student question
- Knows what to do in all teaching situations and ‘is calm, cool and collected’
- Accommodates all students effectively, even those with learning disabilities, language or cultural dynamics that affect their learning
- Chooses appropriate assignments and marks fairly
- Plays an active role within interdisciplinary care team
- Makes teaching the priority in her life at the expense of all other aspects of life
- Holds a ‘healthy as a horse mentality’ never gets sick or tired from the heavy workload
Let’s now look at Vivian’s Realistic nurse educator role:
- Is the best novice teacher possible at this time
- Acknowledges that while knowledgeable, cannot answer every student question about every new pathology or medication
- Asks experienced educators for help when overwhelming situations occur
- Learns a variety of teaching methods to teach students with Learning Disabilities
- Learns how to give useful feedback on assignments
- Gets to know her teammates gradually
- Sets health boundaries around her work life to renew her energy
- Acknowledges that becoming an excellent educator is achievable over time
Neither view is entirely accurate in describing the nurse educator roles and responsibilities. While a novice educator may be proficient at client care content and experienced in the health care system and its management, teaching and being responsible for student learning carries with it a unique knowledge base, relational skills, competencies and sensibilities within a culturally new dynamic.
Consider these ideals may come from limited experience teaching and idealistic, fanciful visions that contain unrealistic expectations based on a false understanding of the necessary knowledge base, teaching skills and sensibilities required to teach effectively. Often times, clinicians imagine the educator role as an easier job that holds more status in the professional world of nursing. Once in the new role, they experience fear of losing their license if they overlook areas that compromise client safety or when students make mistakes that harm clients. To cope, novice educators narrow their focus from holistic approach to care to one that is more focused on technical skills. They over prepare for fear of not knowing enough to answer student questions. They fear not fitting into the world of nursing education. In the process, they exhaust themselves. As a coach, you may ask your client, ‘Where do these views come from?’ and ask yourself, ‘How can I move the client from one perspective to another?’
Through a Visual Arts Discovery Activity, Vivian explored clarified and deepened her awareness of underlying treasured values and beliefs about teaching. This activity paradoxically liberated her from perceived ideas of what a great teacher was in comparison with what she had imagined. Recognizing this opportunity for change generated optimism and a renewed energy that sparked enthusiasm to transform her future into a balanced reality and recreate herself as a great teacher.
According to the International Coach Federation Code of Ethics, 2006, “…creating awareness [was] the ability to integrate and accurately evaluate multiple sources of information, and to make interpretations that help[ed] the client to gain awareness and thereby achieve agreed-upon results, [invoking] inquiry for greater understanding, awareness and clarity (p. 64). By helping Vivian to discover for herself new thoughts, beliefs, perceptions, emotions, moods, strengthened her ability to take action and achieve what was important to her. (International Coach Academy Pty. Ltd)
Vivian was then more fully aware of what teaching meant. Having readjusted her expectations, she chose to focus on several specific goals: learning new content area specific to the clinical area, teaching methods, group process, establishing new working relationships at the work place and the college.
She also set an achievable time frame. Just as it takes time creating a welcoming home after relocating to a new city, it will take time to fashion a unique teaching style and establish unique teaching competencies. These insights fostered Vivian’s ability to let go of those elements that no longer fit into her new role as Educator. They focused her attention on specific teaching components to emphasize and learn about.
Vivian’s new perspectives helped her uncover a clearer vision of herself as an educator, by acknowledging that she will make mistakes in judgment, that she cannot control every aspect of the teaching experience. Reducing feelings of overwhelm can be the first step in clearing a clouded perspective and in identifying a new way of being that will then generate energy for her to begin the transition into a reformed identity as an educator and experiencing the transformative power of change.