Whether I am reading about leadership practices, teaching for success, parenting, or marriage the theme relationship is forthcoming in all. The many articles focused on coaching have not been an exception.
At our recent cohort meeting two events encouraged me to write this post: first, a colleague asked for some thoughts regarding building relationships when introduced to a new site, second, I shared a recent conversation that has made me really thinking about how patient we need to be with relationships.
I had a colleague who I deeply admire and respect professionally and personally initiate a conversation. I recognize that this person has not accessed my role as a learning coach however we have conversations and will share thinking openly and critically on educational topics. This person shared why they have not “accessed” my role as of yet: they identified they have no experience working collaboratively in the classroom and do not know if they have the skills or the time. There is perhaps some uncertainty regarding trust for lack of a better word that there will not be judgement ( this is my inference it was not stated). Initially I did not know what to say but have really taken some time think about this.
How brave to identify to my face the reason for caution. Too often, we as coaches, try to figure out what we can do differently or new to open the doors and encourage staff to access. I stop in every classroom and I take every opportunity to engage in conversation with staff and try to respect when colleagues need to process. I do have to admit that I have a new appreciation. I am going to really look at this person as needing “think time” much like we offer students who need to process information a bit longer than others. Ha, a bit of differentiation to support building this relationship.
Differentiation is not only for the classroom. Working respectfully with our colleagues means differentiating the work we do with each person. So I go back to the beginning of this post – all of our relationships- take time, energy, reflection, trust, and ultimately differentiation.
So for those of you who like myself are working in schools where you are the new face and the learning coach – I have no answers or sure to work strategies other than – take time, listen, recognize that each person is unique with a history, fears, insecurity, strengths and habits. Ultimately, this year is about building a new type of relationship with staff – a partner in practice.