10 Oct 2017

#1- Fostering Vibrant Schools: Nurturing Compassion, building Trust & Celebrating Strengths with Megan Tschannen-Moran

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“A world of questions is a world of possibility.  We have only to ask the right questions to begin”- Marilee Adams

To check out Dr Tschannen-Moran’s body of work, look here

For more information and a chance to participate in Tschannen-Moran’s study on vibrant schools, see

It is no secret that I am a big fan of Dr. Megan Tschannen-Moran’s work (Trust Matters & Evocative Coaching), so I was really looking forward to her learning session.  This participatory session focused around what makes a school vibrant.  Megan began her workshop by sharing her story of how she first became interested in vibrant schools through her experience of starting a school early in her career.  We then had the opportunity to discuss at our tables and then as a large group, some of what we felt were key attributes of a vibrant school.  For us, a vibrant school is:

  • A feeling of what it means to be in that school. It is on the walls and in the classrooms.
  • Not about the building
  • Feeling welcomed and supported
  • Where your work is valued and important
  • A place with the people and work you love
  • Where adults, kids and their community want to be
  • Where there is play, active engagement and productive noise
  • Where silences are pauses between engagement
  • Where all voices are honoured
  • Where there is academic energy and engagement with curiosity

Our conversation then moved to discussing what we would need to bolster vibrancy and make it tangible in our current contexts. Some of the key themes that emerged from this discussion were around:

  • Stakeholder (kids, community, teachers, leaders, system) engagement and ownership
  • Relationship building opportunities
  • Freedom to make mistakes as students and staff
  • Collaboration
  • Trust
  • Strong leadership
  • A rhythm between academics and culture and high expectations for both
  • Responsible accountability
  • Fun

Similar to most discussions I have had around effective coaching, trust surfaces as a pivotal component.  As a leading expert on trust, Tschannen-Moran defines trust as “feeling at ease in interdependence based on the confidence that the other person is benevolent, honest, open, reliable, and competent.” With relationship building fundamental to vibrant schools, we need to take the time to develop trust, or as Tschannen-Moran states: “go slow to go fast.”

Tschannen-Moran positions Compassionate Communication at the heart of trusting relationships and powerful coaching, so we spent some time in this session exploring the role of feelings and needs.  Participants were introduced to the importance of a person-centred, no-fault and strength-based approach in coaching and its links to the theory of Appreciative Inquiry (David Cooperrider & Suresh Srivastva).  Ultimately, I left reminded that coaching is about building a collective sense of efficacy, which crucially contributes to the overall vibrancy of a school.

Finally, I was lucky enough to sit with Bob & Megan at the opening keynote and had some wonderful conversations throughout the conference.  I am so grateful for all their support and encouragement.  Such good people.


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