Caboose to Front Carriage



Whether it is in a school or any other workplace on the planet, people are always riding in different carriages. Colleagues may all be on the same train, heading towards the same destination, yet what people contribute and how they contribute can look vastly different.

I’ve just come out of a PD session about “Coaching for Growth.” This fascinates me, as it is all about people and how to get people on board.

Here are the 3 different carriages:

  1. Caboose: They don’t really get it. They need help seeing and believing that this train is for them.
  2. Middle Carriage: They are a bit unsure about what and where they are going, yet they are open.
  3. Front Carriage: They get it, drive things forward, offer solutions and ideas to grow and challenge.

My question to you is…

“Which carriage do you start with?”


While you ponder about that question, I would like to add another layer to this. Think about ‘how’ as coaches, mentors or leaders do we guide, encourage or convince others to move to the next carriage…. This is called “The Gap” between each carriage. What are people struggling with that is holding them back?

  • Is there a SKILL gap?
  • Is there a KNOWLEDGE gap?
  • Is there a CAPACITY gap?
  • Is there a WILL gap?

Something that really hit me and is often the situation in schools is that a lot of the time we think that teachers have a WILL gap. This may reflect their attitude towards something, usually in a negative way. When really, it isn’t a will gap that is the problem, it is more about one of the other four gaps. For example, I don’t have the SKILLS to do something. I may be embarrassed by this and this is then interpreted as a WILL issue. I come across as being resistant and disgruntled. When really, it is a SKILL issue. I may not have the skills needed to do something well.

In order for people to ‘move on’ we need to step back, be honest and have the courage to put ourselves out there and say I need to up-skill, or I need more knowledge more about this first before I feel confident teaching it.

Now I ask you…. “Where do you start and why?” What is holding you (them) back and how can you (we) help them?

If we can do this more in schools, we will all grow and learn and be the best we can be for not only our students, but ourselves. What could possibly be more important than that?

If you would like to know the answer of where to start, make a comment with your email address and I will get back to you.



  1. Melissa Graham

    Hi Chad
    Always enjoy your posts – great provocations for me personally and when shared with my team. We have embarked on a revised and refreshed ‘performance development framework’ this year with coaching and peer observation. Still in the early days so love to hear from others and to get any new or different perspectives to help our continued learning journey as a leadership team and school.
    Looking forward to hearing back from you.

  2. jforsythe08

    Hi Chad,

    Love the idea and the visual that goes with it and would love to know where you might start. my email is
    Obviously this concept applies to both students and teachers and in both cases I feel like you need to start at the caboose and grow/progress from there. I see that EQ is a potential gap that might need (often needs) filling. What about the train that is actually trying to drive emotional intelligence/mindfulness through a school community? I’ve been on that train and I will definitely be back on that train at my next school. I would love some advice for the next time…


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