Do you feel like a salesman as you try to get teachers to enroll in a coaching cycle? Have you ever run into barricades put up by teachers uninterested in working with an Instructional Coach? Perhaps you’ve encountered a teacher or administrator who is quite vocal about a change in practice being unnecessary. While the challenges described above can be intimidating for a new or veteran Instructional Coach, there are a few steps I take when dealing with resistance.
First, do not take a teacher’s standoffishness personally. There may be circumstances or personal experiences you aren’t aware of that are prohibiting a teacher from opening up. If the building or district had a coach before you were hired, it could be the previous coach didn’t have good rapport with the teacher or did something to damage the trust that is a vital part of a teacher-coach relationship. No matter the reason, it is important that you do not avoid the teacher. Even if they are not directly reaching out to you, you can still make a point of having an authentic and positive interaction with them each day. If nothing else, they will begin to see you as someone safe to approach, but hopefully they will begin to show signs of being open to collaborate with you.
Second, be persistent. Teaching is a passion and a craft, and you will encounter teachers who are satisfied with their practice, and believe what they are doing is working for their learners. They may be correct, and it’s okay to acknowledge that. However, even the best athletes have coaches, and you can remind teachers that you are their to support what they’re currently doing and to work with them on their terms. Your persistence does not need to be intimidating or overwhelming, but rather an opportunity to respectfully remind teachers that you are available, the types of supports you can provide, and that you are there to learn alongside them.
Finally, keep your eye out for windows of opportunity. Any chance you have to make a connection, whether to a personal or professional passion, teachers will begin to see you as a peer, colleague, and someone they can relate to. Windows of opportunity can be as simple as a teacher needing someone to bounce around an idea with during lunch, or sending a video clip or activity resource related to what they’re currently teaching. When you are fully present in conversations, both planned and incidental, and know the curriculum and curricular maps, you will be able to identify and make the most of all opportunities that present themselves.
Being in the Instructional Coaching position, you recognize the power and value working with a coach can have on teaching and learning, but it can take time for others to recognize the benefit. I have encountered resistance, everyone has. But, by having reflected upon and learned from my experiences, I can honestly say that if keep looking for your windows of opportunity, take your time, and don’t give up, good things will happen.
About our Guest Blogger:
Stephanie Laird is an Instructional Coach in Iowa, where she works alongside teachers to affect student learning through the areas of curriculum, instruction, assessment, and community building. She holds an MEd in Curriculum and Instructional Technology from Iowa State University. To connect with Stephanie, visit her website and follow her on Twitter.