I'm at the end of my fourth full year of coaching in my district. When our team was formed coaching was not as popular or as common as it is now. Our superintendent gave us a framework for our job, and we had a job description. We weren't really sure how it was all going to play out. Despite what our superintendent thought, we knew it was about gaining the trust of the person(s) we were coaching. In reality it was about more than trust, it was about building a relationship with our coachee or client. As the job has evolved that has become more and more apparent to me. The first three years, my year in review presentation was about the apps and the content that the students created.
Tales of an iCoach 2014 - 2015
This year it was just about the relationships that were created, with both the students and the staff (because it is not just teachers that I work with).
15-16 Year in Review
Building relationships is paramount in a coaching position. How does one go about building relationships? I think there are a lot of ways to go about doing it. Some of my suggestions may work for you and your personality, or the structure of your district, and some may not.
1. Be honest and in the moment
a. If you say you are going to be at a meeting at 8 am. Be there on time. Everyone is busy. Everyone's time is important.
b. When you are at a meeting or an observation be there and only there. Do not look at other emails, or phone messages. Work with the person you are coaching! It is easy to get distracted by other things.
2. Listen more, talk less
a. This was my biggest goal as a coach this year. I tend to talk a lot, so this one was a challenge for me.
b. Listen for emotions from the person you are coaching. Is there something getting in the way of them moving forward? What are they passionate about?
c. Listen for their wants and needs. How can you help them move forward with the things that they want and need in their classroom?
3. Make sure your coachee knows that you are there to prop them up.
a. Coaching is a very personal and private process.
b. I tell my coachees that I will only sing their praises to the administrators. That means I will always highlight everything that is going well. The issue that we are working on, or the challenges that we face are private between us. I tell them that I am there to make them look good!
4. ISTE Standard for Coaches 3e states: Troubleshoot basic software, hardware, & connectivity problems common in digital learning environments.
a. You may work for an administrator who says leave the box and wires stuff to the tech department. Now you don't have to, it is an ISTE Standard for Coaches. I don't mean for you to learn how to administer active directory accounts or anything like that. If the fix is within your skill set, take the time to do it. It will go a long way to helping build that relationship. If it is beyond your technical skills then have a talk with one of the people on your tech staff. Tell them if they put this request to the top of the list it may go a long way to getting this person "off their back" so to speak. In return you can do something nice for your tech staff. I find bringing food works best.
5. Take the time to find out the strengths and learning style of the teachers you are working with.
a. This can be done through observations and conversations.
6. Remember teachers want to be the best that they can be.
a. I don’t think any of your colleagues wake up in the morning and say, "When I get to work today I want to suck."
7. Remember reward what you want more of.
a. If they are good at an app or skill make sure that you praise them for it and encourage them to share their expertise with other staff members in whatever outlets they have available to them (staff meetings, after school or professional development day presentations etc.).
b. Teachers who feel appreciated will do more than what is expected of them – George Couros http://georgecouros.ca/blog/archives/6395
8. Remember - teachers don’t resist change, they resist BEING changed. - Karen Marklein
a. So take it slow. Don’t try to change too much at once. This will only overwhelm everyone, including you. If you remember all the points above this one should just fall into place.
How do you build relationships in your school?
Thanks for the inspiration Michelle. This is one blog post I have been meaning to write for a long time