Building strong relationships with those you coach is one of the most important things an instructional coach can do. In this blog, I mentioned how relationship building in coaching is one of the first things you want to do. While this can be a difficult task, there are some things you can do to help strengthen the bond with your coachee. Here are a few that I’d like to share with you.
Really Get to Know the Person You’re Coaching
At the heart of making a strong connection is understanding who you are coaching. Get to know them as a person. Move beyond the basic facts that you might already know and find out what is important to them, what their values and beliefs are, and what motivates them. You don’t have to be their best friend, but you do want to try to find common ground or that one thing you can connect on that goes beyond the content.
Share Your Story
You became an instructional coach for a reason. Share your story and your goals with those you coach. Let them know you care about them and want to help them grow as educators. This will help create a mutual understanding from the onset. Teachers might have different views as to what a coach is and what a coach does. Sharing your story will help clear up any misconceptions and will help shape a trusting relationship.
As a coach, you might feel pressure to have the right answers all the time. It’s okay, and, in fact, really important to just listen to the teachers you coach and not immediately offer solutions. It is important to listen fully and completely understand the context of what is being said. If an idea pops into your head, write it down and don’t interrupt.
Problem Solve Together
It’s vital that you work together with teachers to problem solve. Instead of always providing the answers, try asking questions to help teachers solve their own challenges. Ask questions such as, “What have you tried?” or “What do you think?” Problem solving together will help create that true partnership. Remember that it is not your job to be the know-it-all. It is your job to help the teacher develop his/her own problem-solving strategies.
One of main jobs that you have as an instructional coach is to give feedback. However, it is just as important that you receive feedback from the teachers you are working with. Create a survey or be open during your coaching conversations about receiving feedback. Ask those you coach how the relationship is going and how you can support them better. This type of two-way feedback is essential to building trust. In addition, you are modeling the openness you are hoping to see in your teachers.
When giving feedback, make sure you mention some of the strengths you are observing. Sometimes, we cannot see our own good qualities and are focused on the things we do wrong. It helps to build your relationship if you can identify some good things you are seeing.
Keep Working on Building Relationships
Know that building relationships takes time, so it might not happen right away. Relationship building works both ways. Both you and the person you coach must be invested in developing the relationship and this might take some time. Continue to find ways to keep working on the relationship if it doesn’t happen right away.
Use these tips to help you establish a solid relationship with those you coach. In addition, if you have some tips that have worked for you, please share them with us in the comments below.