When school leaders ask me if their teachers would benefit from coaching, I reply, “All teachers would benefit from coaching, as long as they’re capable and coachable.”
Capability usually isn’t an issue, since most teachers have the potential to be effective. Yet no matter how much potential teachers have, few of them will reach their potential without being open to critical feedback. In other words, they must be coachable.
And a reliable indicator of coachability is how teachers respond when they’re struggling. Do they blame their struggles on factors beyond their control such as poverty, parents, or the principal? Or do they take ownership of their struggles? To illustrate, let’s look at two videos, starting with this clip of a staged (awesome acting!) coaching conference I discovered on Michael Goldstein’s blog, Starting an Ed School:
Patty. Mohammed. Fire drill. This teacher blames her struggles on just about everyone and everything but herself. By contrast, here are excerpts of a conference I had with a teacher who was also dealing with behavior management challenges:
“I don’t give them enough structure... I’m not organized... If I’m messing up, it’s totally on me. It should be as the teacher.... If we go off task, it is my fault.” No blaming colleagues. No blaming students. No blaming outside events. Instead, this teacher takes ownership of her classroom difficulties. This teacher exhibits coachability.
And in my experience, it’s only when teachers exhibit coachability that they can perform to their capability.
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The opinions expressed in Coach G’s Teaching Tips are strictly those of the author(s) and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Editorial Projects in Education, or any of its publications.