How to build relationships with instructional coaches
Teaching at any level can often be a solitary occupation. Even with a classroom full of students, teachers often work in isolation from peers. Teachers are rarely instructed on how to work with co-teachers or assistant teachers in their initial teacher training programs. Therefore, it is often difficult or inconvenient for teachers to ask for help or collaborate effectively with others. Instructors often don’t know how to accept the help of instructional coaches, even when they would like to.
Educational practice is shifting from isolated practice to collaborative efforts, and creating healthy, productive team dynamics is often a challenge. Instructional coaches can positively affect these relationships, but trust must exist for it to happen. Even in systems where you are expected to work with a coach, building these initial relationships can be a challenge.
Instructional coaches, instructional designers, and even assigned co-teachers often struggle to establish working relationships with individual classroom teachers. Librarians regularly complain that they spend more time clearing jams from printers instead of helping students with reference questions. However, removing these paper jams can help the student see the librarian as a resource. Similarly, the instructional designer could begin to build a relationship by helping an instructor correctly format the hanging indents for a research paper. An instructional coach began building a positive relationship by making copies for the classroom teacher. Like the proverbial salesman who had to set foot in the door, sometimes the first step is small.
Just as teachers rarely learn to collaborate with others in their classroom, instructional coaches and others in their class are often trained to focus on analyzing student learning data. or technical skills. However, this is just one facet of the role of coach. Collecting and analyzing data is an important aspect of improving teaching, but it is rarely successful as a first facet.