I Hear Ya!

“True confessions of a teacher” should be my title this week. If I am honest, even with this being my 6th year teaching, I had never heard of S.E.L. concerning education until late last year. For those of you who may be reading this and asking, “Yes, what is S.E.L?” S.E.L. stands for Social and Emotional Learning. Along with teaching academics, teachers also help students understand emotions and how to handle them as they grow and learn. At my school, we would categorize social and emotional learning as character education. With the pandemic hitting and forcing students into online education, social and emotional learning was the more specific terminology I learned. It became important that we help students through the difficulties of being away from their classmates while having class. 

Similarly, as a digital education coach, I must help teachers deal with the sometimes frustrations of using technology in the classroom. My goal is to create relationships with teachers so they feel comfortable enough to express their feelings with me. I believe that, just as with students, once teachers can work through emotions, they are able to learn. Looking at ISTE 3a, “Establish trusting and respectful teaching relationships that encourage educators to explore new instructional strategies.” More specifically, I want to look at “establishing trusting and respectful coaching relationships.” I’m asking the question, “How can I best do this? How can I “establish trusting and respectful relationships” so that educators can “explore new strategies?”

     Author H.L. has written an article entitled, “5 Strategies for Supporting Teachers to do Their Best Work.” What I appreciate about this article is that the author focuses on the emotional side. Sure, many articles focus on teaching strategies that I can offer teachers. Yet, as stated earlier, teachers will be more willing to accept the help I provide if I first meet their emotional needs. H.L.’s 5 strategies are:

  1. Listen and respond to teachers’ concerns.
  2. Provide opportunities for teachers to share strategies with each another.
  3. Offer quality professional development.
  4. Encourage participation in professional learning communities (PLCs).
  5. Don’t assume everyone is on the same page.

While all of these strategies have their place in supporting educators, I want to focus on number 1. H.L. does not mention why this was listed as the first strategy, but I believe it is the most important one. The author writes, “So simple, yet so neglected, is the act of listening, empathizing, and taking action to address the concerns of your professional educators” (par.3). Wow, “so neglected?” I can see why many teachers would feel frustrated or defeated if someone was unwilling to listen to teachers’ concerns. Seeing them as humans who have struggles and problems and empathizing with them sounds somewhat basic but could do a lot. The author continues by saying, “Proceed from the assumption that your teachers want the chance to do their best work every day, then work relentlessly to remove barriers to their success” (par.3). I see this as my specific challenge as a coach. I must remember approaching a teacher not as someone who has given up but as someone who wants to do their best, trying to do their best. Then, as I listen and acknowledge their concerns, it propels me to remove any “barriers” which might hinder someone from doing their job to the best of their ability.

I believe 2, 3, & 4 are essential points, but number 5 is my other favorite point. “Don’t assume everyone is on the same page.” H.L. further explains by saying, “Whatever the ‘label,’ all teachers need to know what it means, what related professional behaviors are expected, and how to implement the system with fidelity. Only then will teachers feel supported, and benefits can be realized” (par.8). It surprises me (although I don’t know why) how often someone in professional development gives a workshop and begins to use vernacular suitable for the attendees. Still, maybe because of different levels of education, some may not fully understand. As teaching professionals, some may not feel comfortable asking what something means; hence not everyone is on the same page.

As a future coach, I will remember these points, especially numbers 1 and 5. I always want to create a relationship where my colleagues trust me and respect me and make sure I never take it for granted that we are all on the same page. While some may view these details as somewhat simplistic, sometimes the simple things are the most meaningful.

Works Cited

“Iste Standards for Coaches.” ISTE, www.iste.org/standards/iste-standards-for-coaches.

L, H. “5 Strategies for Supporting Teachers to Do Their Best Work.” Schoology, Schoology, 10 Dec. 2018, www.schoology.com/blog/5-strategies-supporting-teachers-do-their-best-work.

Reference

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