“I no longer want to coach people who don’t want to be coached.”
Those were my words a few years ago when I took a pause from the world of coaching educators to stay home with my young family. Now, as a consultant, I look back on those words and realize it’s just not that simple. Sure, there might be some people who don’t want to be coached, but what if it’s just that we aren’t coaching them in the way they need? What if a one size fits all approach to coaching just isn’t working anymore (or never really was?)
And what if a predictable observation cycle — many know it as "the dog and pony show" — might not be increasing engagement or helping teachers grow in their profession?
Rather than checking a box or “managing performance,” what if we looked at each teacher as the unique individual they are and started there? At CESO, we reimagine what's possible in education. In order to attract and retain the best possible educators, we need to reimagine how we support, coach, and care for our teachers.
Imagine coaching teachers in the same way we approach teaching students — personalized to their needs and interests. As educational leaders, take the time to sit down with each teacher and have a conversation, not necessarily about goals and opportunities, but about who they are and what they need to be successful. Come up with a plan together, and understand that the plan can and should be fluid.
Asking some of the following questions can help you as a leader understand the needs and interests of your teachers while building trust at the same time:
- Have you ever been coaching in the past? What worked well? What didn't work so well?
- What is your experience with being observed? How has it helped you?
- How do you like to receive feedback?
- Is there anything your are interested in learning more about?
- Where do you get the energy to persevere through tough classroom situations?
- How can I best support you this year?
- What are you worried about this year?
So how do we attract and retain talent? We do it by shifting our thinking. We do it by showing up differently for teachers, supporting them differently, and giving them the professional freedom to have a say in the process.