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Q&A with AACTE Coaching’s Debbie K. Mercer

Debbie K. Mercer, Ph.D., is the dean of the College of Education at Kansas State University. Mercer will facilitate the Effective Communication & Navigating Difficult Faculty cohort, part of AACTE’s new Coaching initiative. In the following Q&A, AACTE asked Mercer for a preview of her cohort’s coursework and what members can expect from participating in this new AACTE-exclusive experience.

Who inspired you to become an educator?

It was the women in my life that inspired me to become an educator. My grandma taught in a one-room schoolhouse, my mom went back to school when I was in college to earn her elementary education degree, and taught kindergartners and first graders throughout her career.

My daughter is an early childhood principal. I have high hopes for at least one of my granddaughters to become an educator. This legacy of educators is tied together through a love of literacy and books. We all have extensive libraries and love to read aloud. Most important (for us) is the belief that education changes lives, truly transforming perspectives and decisions.

What is one of the best pieces of advice you’ve received as a dean?

Timing is not everything, but it is indeed something. Some issues require an immediate response. Others need wait time. When you choose to tackle an issue or situation is important. The context – location, time, and group make-up – all impact the perceived message being sent. Be aware of these issues.

Why is your coaching cohort important?

This coaching cohort is important because it is comprised of a group of individuals who are passionate about learning and growing. There is a certain vulnerability in saying, “I want to improve and grow.” Being brave and willing to improve is key to grow as a leader.

What excites you about the cohort you are coaching?

Learning. Learning is my strongest strength (for those into Strengths Quest). Teaching is learning. I know I will grow right alongside my cohort participants. As we think about communication and dealing with difficult or challenging dialogues, we must remain active listeners, control emotional responses, and seek win-win solutions. These are areas in which we can all continue to grow.

To learn more about AACTE Cohort Coaching, visit the webpage.

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