“When the trust account is high, communication is easy, instant, and effective.” -Stephen R. Covey
Teaching is a vulnerable act. The willingness to go into a classroom each day with a prepared lesson and engage with children is a very real definition of courage. This vulnerability is heightened when a teacher is trying to get better at his/her/their craft.
Enter the instructional coach.
As a former coach of teachers and a current consultant to school and system leaders, I have learned about the risks of collaborating with adults to get better at the craft of teaching. It is hard by itself, but is impossible without trust.
I think perhaps what is both equitable and challenging about teachers learning to improve their practice is that when they are being coached, they enter into a similar power imbalance experienced by their own students. It can feel disconcerting. This is one of the reasons why trust is even more important in the coach-teacher relationship.
Trust is the foundation for any significant improvement between people. When it is broken, progress is stalled. When it is strengthened, unbelievable gains can happen. Here are at least three tips to build a culture of trust within a coaching relationship:
When I was pursuing my undergraduate degree at Towson University, I had a powerful teacher my sophomore year. In fact, he was a (football) coach. Coach Phil Albert taught me content, but also about life. He had so many sayings. I still remember him saying “keep your shoulder pad down,” as we left his class. I trusted him because he seemed to connect his content and his message with who he believed we could be if we applied both the content of the course and his beliefs about life into our daily habits. I trusted him because he was consistently clear about the greatness he saw inside of us.
I recently learned of his passing. When a great coach passes, his teachings forever live on. In fact, the words of a great coach become the life messages you grow to trust more and more as time goes on. And so, I leave you with a quote from Coach Albert that I have come to trust in that can also help build a culture of deep trust between a coach and a teacher:
“What you compromise to keep, you eventually lose anyway.”
Do not compromise your commitment to building trust with those you support.