Open reviewing process

Learning to Feel the Presence of Kairos:

Learning to Feel the Presence of Kairos:
by jason hocknell-nickels - Friday, 6 April 2018, 8:36 AM


This paper offers an account of my on-going learning and professional practice as a Living-Theorist systemic coach. In it I clarify my understanding and meaning of my learning and development, starting from my values and my living standards of judgement (Laidlaw, 1996). I authentically share what being a Living-Theorist systemic coach means to me in that coaching capacity. Writing in this way strengthens and resources me to meet the challenges of this role. It helps me to make sense of my experiences. By writing in this way I open-up my learning to critical reflection with the hope that this will, in turn, create space for life-affirming dialogical relationships (Isaacs & Senge, 1999).

I focus on my professional practice as a systemic coach serving an Information Technology directorate within a United Kingdom Government agency. We have approximately 140 staff. The emphasis on my original contribution to knowledge is on the explanatory principles I use to describe my professional development and the living standards of judgement I use to judge the validity of this knowledge. My practice involves all the principles of being a systemic coach. These include having a paradoxical non-attachment to any specific outcome; being loyal to the whole system; and balancing challenge and support in the process of what is emergent. My grounding is my loving kindness that I seek to bring into my work. From my ground I seek to co-create safe spaces, or what we locally term as the ‘right environment’ for staff members to engage with genuine dialogue, co-inquiry and co-learning. This paper focusses on one key workshop that we called the whole system event. This workshop seemed to me, and to some within the system, to be a key or seminal shift in group-relations across the whole system. To aid the story-making sense-making I will provide sufficient contextual background information. This I hope will help to make my claims to knowing authentic, relevant and valid.


Keywords: Living-Theory. Systemic Coach. Emergence.  Aesthetics.

Picture of Marie Huxtable
Re: Learning to Feel the Presence of Kairos:
by Marie Huxtable - Friday, 6 April 2018, 7:16 PM

Great to see it here Jason. Looking forward to seeing your reviewers posting very soon


Picture of Jacqueline Delong
Re: Learning to Feel the Presence of Kairos:
by Jacqueline Delong - Thursday, 12 April 2018, 8:01 PM

Hi, Jason. I enjoyed your commitment to living according to your values and holding yourself publicly accountable for them, especially in a field where that might not be the norm. Your narrative of learning in the workshop sessions is insightful. I wondered if you had shared your learning with your colleagues and asked them to support you claims to have learned and improved.

I hope that you will accept my suggestions for improvement in the light of how they are intended: to strengthen the article and bring it line with EJOLTs guidelines. Having said that, I make the following suggestions for your consideration:

  1. You mention your values as living standards of judgment near the beginning I don't see them again in the paper. 
  2. There is evidence of learning and improvement but it is implicit until it is stated near the end.
  3. The claims to know in the narrative need evidence to support them and the sources of the data: journal, recording, observers, other voices.
  4. There are missing parts that may, in fact, address this concern. I have highlighted in red those missing pieces as well as some unclear writing in the attached document.
  5. On the editing side, the paragraghs are too short: they are usually approx. 5 sentences; single quotes and hyphenated words are used frequently and it is not clear to me as to reason; I have made some edits on the draft article.
I have made some notes on the attached paper for your consideration. 

I do believe that your article can be worthy of publication and am more than happy to help you to strengthen it.

Love, Jackie

Picture of Caitriona McDonagh
Re: Learning to Feel the Presence of Kairos:
by Caitriona McDonagh - Monday, 16 April 2018, 12:09 PM

Dear Jason,

Although I come originally from a school teaching background I was delighted toget the opportunity to review your paper. Currently I am delivering and marking a Module on Mentoring and Coaching in a Post Graduate Diploma (Level 9) in School Leadership with Maynooth University, Ireland.. So, my comments on your paper are coming from this dual lens and in particular how educators, outside your field, may read your valuable work. I therefore offer my comments as signposts on the journey of valuable learning which you have given to us. You may or may not wish to follow these signposts but I am delighted to work with you to ensure as far as possible that your is published.

·        Values: In your abstract you tell how your values inform and validate your living theory. In the body of the paper this thread is not always clear. For example, you mention the word values 21 times but it was not until almost half way through the paper that you articulate them for your readers as “being loyal to the whole system, holding the balance between challenge and support, systemic presence, and lastly, being non-attached to any specific or particular outcomes.”  Are these the embodied values you have mentioned? It might help to describe the relationship between  “the loving kindness” and these values earlier in the paper and explain it throughout.

·        Reader signposts: Could you add further signposts for readers to understand your detailed descriptions of your living-educational-theory? An example of what I mean might be; headings to cover areas such as actions, critique, ethics, validation, what I learned, how I may have influenced others learning etc.

·        Context-specific language:  Might you help readers of EJOLTs by clarifying some of your context-specific language at the earliest possible opportunity? For example, CTO, SLT and “ the Constellation”  

·        Which person: As living theorist your learning is in relationships with others, so it would help if you could check to whom you are referring and why you use “we” and “our” “my

I really look forward to reading the next iteration of your paper, after when you have considered some of these ideas as well as those of other reviewers. I will send you my comoments on your paper asap

Best wishes


Picture of Caitriona McDonagh
Re: Learning to Feel the Presence of Kairos:
by Caitriona McDonagh - Monday, 16 April 2018, 12:41 PM


Here are my commetns on your paper 


Picture of Brian Williamson
Re: Learning to Feel the Presence of Kairos:
by Brian Williamson - Sunday, 22 April 2018, 9:26 PM

Dear Jason,

Thank you for giving me the opportunity to review your paper. My own background is as a tutor in mathematics and lecturer in statistics, so my approach to LET tends to be axiomatic, but I hope to keep on learning from the way other practitioners create their living theories.

You have clearly engaged with the literature and this is a strength of the paper. I can appreciate your educational influence in your own learning, and that the starting-point in this work is primarily from your own experience which you say is phenomenological. This suggests that phenomenology and LET are your chosen methodologies here, but how does phenomenology fit in?

The value-based explanations supporting the work become clearer as the paper unfolds. I feel that the first part of the paper has been made unclear by the use of jargon, please see my comments in the text.

I feel that I am starting to get to know you, and that I will understand more on reading the second iteration of the paper. To my mind the key points for action are (1) clarification of terms that may be unclear to the reader and (2) highlighting of your claims. If these two goals could be met in your second iteration, then I feel that the way forward would become much stronger.

Please see comments in the text attached with a completed criteria table at the very end, for guidance.

All very best wishes