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Krissu Sirola-Korhonen: Peer coaching as a guide to appreciating dialogue

09/05/2019
por Anna Kirstinä
Idioma: EN

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I wasn’t sure what to expect when the plane took off towards Ljubljana, Slovenia. I was heading to participate a course by Skupina Primera: Peer Coaching as a sustainable resource of professional development, as a part of an ERASMUS+ project. In KSL Study Centre, where I work as an Educational Content Producer, we have used methods of coaching on our courses, when giving assignments to our students and study groups. This time, the perspective was peer coaching, a new point of view for me. What will I gain? How will I use this? And do I have the energy for learning something new?

Spring was beautiful, you could see the beginning of something new everywhere you looked. For our group of 11 ladies around Europe this was indeed true.

I never stop being amazed by the process of learning.

The process of learning is really like a planted seed. First there are small seeds of curiosity, that are planted in the soil – what is there to come? Afterwards you care for them, giving sun and water, the knowledge needed for growth. But first the seeds don’t show a thing. A lot happens under the soil, but nothing comes out. After thinking about new things for a while, you have the courage and understanding to say something about it, like raising the first green sprout above the soil. If you then have the possibility to start sharing, discussing and comparing the knowledge, it’s like an oxygen boost, which gives you energy, strength and will to rise higher and to open new leaves.

In our group, we could really see this process. The process also shows what peer coaching is about. Peer coaching is a positive and appreciating way of discussing, listening and asking questions. These discussions help the other to widen her thoughts or to find new perspectives that can help her with a problem. The most important thing is to listen without advising or condemning the other, trying to find the right questions that help the other one to think and find her own solutions.

The method for using these tools during the course, in order to learn how to use them in the future, was very good, at least for this group. During the week, we learned the basic principles of coaching. We practiced a few practical models and got examples of good questions to practice with. We had several conversations and coaching exercises in pairs and groups of three. We also got a few examples of conversation between the teacher and some of us. We shared a lot of things with each other, we supported, we asked, we laughed, and we wept. The discussions and reflections were the most helpful way for me to form new connections in my mind, and to reserve them in my memory. Fortunately, the models presented in the training had something familiar for me from my own work. Otherwise, there was so much new information that I would have had difficulties to memorise them all.

The trainer was lovable Janja Rebolj, who shared her knowledge, skills and examples so openly, that it sometimes seemed difficult to respond. Correspondingly, she trusted in our knowledge and in our desire to learn and practice. And she was right. Although the days weren’t too long, we were tired and indeed filled with new ideas after each training day. Everyone of us wanted to learn and to practice, we were really engaged in discussions and in listening to each other.

So, what did I gain?

After the week, we were all so full, and not only because of the good food in Slovenia. We had a toolbox full of new tools, new perspectives on meeting people as well as ideas on how to make the most of this at home and at work. On the last day, we made plans to take home everything we had learned, and to practice. I started by discussing with my colleagues who have studied coaching and shared the things I had learned with them. I hope that we could develop the use and the utilization of these new tools in our professional community, as well as in civil society organisations around us.

When I walked around the Old City of Ljubljana waiting to go to the airport, I was happy. I didn’t know what to expect when I came, but I surely know that I want to learn to use peer coaching in my work in the future. And I know I have a group of wonderful ladies around Europe to share the experiences with.

 

Krissu Sirola-Korhonen

KSL Study Centre

 

This article is part of a series of articles about learning experiences in the field of adult education in an European context. Our ERASMUS+ KA1 project is called “European Educational Know-how Supporting Civil Society”.

 
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