There's nothing more exciting than a new school year.
Catching up with colleagues about summer adventures, preparing classrooms, and organizing to build an amazing school community.
Although there are often challenges at the beginning of the year, the joy of possibility is more prevalent.
This year, I switch my role after eight years as a high school English and journalism teacher. In order to be successful at my new role as a part-time teacher and part-time teacher coach, I will need to establish great relationships with colleagues that will center around trust.
In addition to playing a new role in my school, we will be celebrating our 10-year anniversary. There are many new initiatives that need to be rolled out (including a new assessment policy), as there have been in the past, but this time, I'm here to help.
Here is my plan to help establish trust, as this will be the foundation of our shared success:
Step 1: Send out a needs assessment to colleagues to check the temperature and get a good sense of what their needs are. With the needs assessment, I will send a formal welcome letter letting folks know my new role and reminding them I'm here to serve them. None of what we work on together will be recorded for an administrative purpose; this is NOT my role. I don't have an administrative license and refuse to evaluate in any way.
Step 2: Review the results of the needs assessment and group colleagues based on needs and interests. I'd like to set up a formal schedule of class rotations, but before I do that I'd like to meet with each teacher individually to go over their answers and continue to establish rapport.
Step 3: Really listen to my colleagues and remember that I'm here to help them. I have no agenda to push except establishing a good working relationship where trust is a hallmark and we can speak frankly to each other. I'm in this role to help better serve our students as a school; I can't do that working alone.
Step 4: Since I will be teaching, too, I'd like to open my classroom up to be visited, sharing a schedule with staff about different things they come to watch in each of my classes. Whether it is tech integration, student-centered learning, in-class conferencing practices, or ways to facilitate student-led discussions and activities, everyone is welcome to see. If I want folks to feel safe with me in their space, it is essential they feel welcomed in mine. This means they need to see me take risks and mess up and recover. They need to see it all.
Step 5: Set goals with teachers and then work together to make strategies. Once these are in place, there must be follow-through. I will be checking in with all of the teachers I work with regularly to make sure their needs are being met. The same way I make myself available to my students, I will be completely available to teachers in whatever capacity they need.
Clarity of mission and goals must be transparent for my new role to be maximized. In this way, I will work to be very open about what I'm here to help them do and that I'm open to their feedback. Learning is a two-way street for sure.
What advice do you have for a new coach? If you were working with a new coach, what would you want him/her to do to build a better relationship? Please share.
This piece originally ran on my Education Week Teacher blog in August 2015