Coaching and Mentoring for ALS Teachers in the ALS Teachers’ Summit 2018

Last November 22, 2018, I had the wonderful opportunity of being one of the resource persons for the first ever ALS Teachers’ Summit 2018 sponsored by the Cebuana Lhullier Foundation, Inc. (CFLI) in partnership with the Department of Education (DepEd).  The partnership was established by CFLI in 2013 with the DepEd.  CFLI adopts local government units and public schools to make ALS available in their area.

“ALS” stands for Alternative Learning System (ALS) and is a parallel education system that is an option for those who do not or cannot have access to the Philippine formal education system.  ALS provides Academic, Livelihood, Spiritual and Social Education to former out-of-school youth and adults in the elementary and secondary levels.  Mobile ALS Teachers provide the alternative education and, at the secondary level, this is aimed at preparing youth and adults to take and pass the Junior High School and Senior High School equivalency tests, respectively.  Equipped with the knowledge and skills at said equivalency levels, test passers are helped to become more job-ready.

First ALS Teachers’ Summit 2018 Sponsored by Cebuana Lhuiller Foundation, Inc. in partnership with the Department of Education

Back to the summit, the overall intention of the summit was to provide ALS Teachers more opportunities for personal and professional development.  One day during the 2-day summit was devoted to helping them learn more about Coaching and Mentoring skills for ALS teachers and how they can use these to help youth and adults develop their full potential.  The role of teachers as coaches and mentors was explored and a coaching and mentoring approaches and skills were discussed.

We started with differentiating several helping modalities as these are often confused with one another.  The most succinct points that sums up the difference that I’ve found so far are the following.  In a nutshell…

  • Coaching is about generative change and enabling self actualization
  • Mentoring is about guiding from experience
  • Consulting is about giving advice and expertise
  • Training is about teaching and drilling in new skills
  • Counseling and therapy is about remedial change, i.e., solving problems, healing hurts, resolving traumas and building up ego-strength so the person gets up to average and becomes “okay“
    (L. Michael Hall, Ph.D.)

The GROW/TGROW Performance Coaching Model (John Whitmore) and the Narrative Coaching Model (Dr. David Drake) were introduced and discussed.  GROW/TGROW stands for Goals, Reality, Options, Way Forward, and T stands for Topic. GROW/TGROW is an approach for guiding a coaching conversation and may be used to guide a mentoring conversation as well.  Narrative Coaching “is a mindful, experiential, and holistic approach that helps people shift their stories about themselves, others, and life itself to create new possibilities and new results.

We live our lives according to the stories we tell ourselves and the stories that others tell about us.” (John M. Winslade and Gerald D. Monk, 2007.)

One insight during the interactions with ALS teachers is that more felt that the Narrative Coaching approach can support them more in helping out-of-school youth and adults, who typically come from disadvantaged backgrounds, to re-author the stories of their lives to develop and strengthen their positive self-esteem and self-confidence.  The stories we tell about ourselves and the stories that others tell about us are very powerful indeed, and often the impact they have on our thinking, feelings, choices and actions, remain blind spots for many who are clueless about their influence.

For example, an illiterate 15 year old youth may not have the motivation nor confidence to learn how to read and how to do simple math, believing that these are beyond his abilities. Such a limiting self-belief may continue to be perpetuated with his self talk and stories about himself that learning is beyond him and that he does not have what it takes to learn.  Stories about the times he tried but just did not learn are those that are most salient in his mind.  Others in his life may have the same beliefs about him expressed as stories about his lack of ability, motivation, and so on. Such stories also being most salient in their minds.  The vicious cycle continues and he has given up on himself.

With the help of an ALS teacher using a Narrative approach, he can explore areas where he may have higher self confidence, demonstrated the ability to learn, how these came to be, and how these may be resources for him to tap in learning how to read and do simple math.  Exploring events and interactions in his life which showed that he does have abilities for learning and many other skills, helps him create new stories about himself as a person with abilities that he may not have realized until this time.  The process goes on to “thicken the plot” of his new story that he is able and helps him to make new choices, including applying himself to his studies.  Enlisting the support of others in his family and environment are critical as well if creating new stories and making them stick.

The focus of coaching and mentoring is always supporting the “client” (a.k.a., “person coached” or “coachee” and/or “mentee” or “protege”) in achieving the outcomes that s/he has for herself/ himself.  Helping clients in discovering, exploring and realizing their fuller potential is what coaching and mentoring is about.  Coaching is about helping someone to learn instead of teaching them. Mentoring, on the other hand, may include advising and teaching someone by the mentor sharing their experiences.

Opening the ALS Teachers’ Summit 2018 are Pebbles Muñiz, Manager and Program Head for Education Education and Special Projects Department and Jonathan Batangan, Executive Director of Cebuana Lhuillier Foundation, Inc.
Vicky Mandap, Resource Person on Well-Being and Self-Care, Betty Narvaez, Training Manager, PJ Lhuillier, Inc., Maricar Testa, Resource Person for Coaching and Mentoring, and Jonathan Batangan, Executive Director of Cebuana Lhuiller Foundation, Inc.

To learn more about Cebuana Lhuillier Foundation, Inc. and its advocacy on education and the Alternative Learning System (ALS), visit the Cebuana Lhuillier Alternative Learning System website at http://cebuanalhuillierals.com/.

To learn more about the Alternative Learning System (ALS) in the Department of Education (DepEd), visit DepEd web page on ALS at http://www.deped.gov.ph/k-to-12/inclusive-education/alternative-learning-system/.

Hoping to Make a Positive Difference by Teaching in Development Management Programs

These past few weeks have been truly inspiring and heartwarming given more opportunities to teach and facilitate programs at the Asian Institute of Management’s Zuellig School of Development Management (ZSDM). Teaching also brings with it many opportunities for informal coaching and mentoring. Teaching in AIM’s Development Management Programs is a small way of making a difference in the lives of Filipino Development Managers who are at the front line of initiatives, programs and projects aimed at addressing gaps and bridging social, economic, educational and other divides in the communities we live in.  

In the Leadership for Project Management for Development, Philippine Air Force (PAF) personnel were keenly interested in learning to improve their project management skills to bear on the implementation of PAF’s Strategic Plan “Plan Velocity Portfolio of Strategic Initiatives.”  We don’t usually think about our military, or at least I don’t, and it was encouraging to learn that they care a lot about protecting our country and  have strategies and plans to improve our air force. The Philippines’ being an archipelago, the air force is an important resource to quickly reach areas that are not easily reached by land or water specially in times of a disaster and when help must be quickly provided to affected communities.

Leadership in Project Management for Development Managers, Philippine Air Force
Zuellig School of Development Management, Asian Institute of Management

In the 17th Leadership and Management of Change for Development Managers, Bridging Leadership Framework, we had very young teachers from Teach for the Philippines, a non-profit organization “…that works to provide all Filipino children with access to relevant and excellent education.”  Their passion for making a positive difference and strong advocacy for providing quality education for the Filipino youth was very inspiring.

While the “Bridging Leadership” projects varied from improving access to feeding programs, providing better sex education to youth in communities where this is still taboo, or providing quality information about how to avoid HIV and extend assistance to its victims, they all shared the goal of improving the lives of children and youth affected.  Listening to their ongoing or planned social change projects to bridge social divides in their schools and communities gives us hope that we have many young talented leaders who have a strong public service calling.  

We had some participants from businesses as well, and one of the “Bridging Leadership” projects a learning team wanted to address was how to help the Badjaos who have been dislocated from their homes by the sea and relocated to Pampanga.  While help was being given by the local government, apparently many Badjaos were dropping out, thus the need to look more closely into what might be better approaches and services to help them live a quality life with dignity in locations that are foreign to their roots.

17th Leadership and Management of Change for Development Managers
Zuellig School of Development Management, Asian Institute of Management

In the 2nd Leadership in Project Management for Development Managers, we have our leaders from local government units, non-profit organizations, and businesses.  Designing development projects aimed at providing quality services to the public and getting these sufficiently funded require well thought out designs using the logical framework approach and problem tree analysis among other tools, whether these involve completing a new stretch of roads to connect an island like Tawi-Tawi from end-to-end, addressing environmental issues like perennial flooding due to rains and high tides coupled with land subsidence in Macabebe, Pampanga and neighboring provinces, municipalities and towns, or continuing improvement in rehabilitation facilities and programs for youth offenders in post-siege Zamboanga.

2nd Leadership in Project Management for Development Managers
Zuellig School of Development Management, Asian Institute of Management

More power to everyone on their journeys of lifelong learning for better results and outcomes in their development projects!