Building Relationship Capital to Make Withdrawals
How Instructional Coaches Can Foster Lasting Relationships with Teachers
By Stephanie Howell and Tara Ruckman, Instructional Coaches
You cannot make withdrawals without making deposits. If this is true with our bank accounts, don’t you think it is true about relationships? In order to have a strong coaching relationship with educators, we must put deposits in! Therefore, when it’s time to make a withdrawal, you have plenty of deposits to pull from. Here are some tips that can make an educator feel wealthy.
Ask About Teachers’ Personal Lives
When a teacher discusses personal things like a birthday, doctor appointment, or something about their child or family, take a mental note and put it in the Google calendar. Remembering special dates can go a long way. This helps us build relationships by remembering the little things. We can quickly send a text that says, “How was your daughter’s birthday party?” When people know you’re actively listening to them and remember details about them it helps build connection. Relationship capital success!
Being there for people can mean a lot. Doctors in hospitals conduct morning rounds to check in with their patients. It allows them to see what their patients need. Shouldn’t we do the same thing in education? Whenever possible, conduct morning rounds. Teachers greet their students, coaches greet the teachers and students. Just stop by and make some small talk or check and see if they need anything. If they do need something, DO IT. This allows educators to know you are reliable, present, and trustworthy.
It is extremely important to keep confidentiality with teachers. Teachers could be trusting you with their biggest struggles when it comes to teaching and school. So when this happens don’t share names, even if principals want to know. Just communicate, “I am working with a teacher at this grade level.” Keeping their names confidential can really help build a relationship and they will share more with you.
No one likes a fake! When you plan a time to work with a teacher, estimate on the high side of time so that you can take the time to make deposits into the relationship capital. Take time and be real with people, show some vulnerability — something personal, maybe a personal detail about yourself or your family. Vulnerability will help them see you as real, not fake. Deposit, Deposit, and Deposit!!
PTO, baby showers, Uber lunch delivery, and holiday parties are just a few ways you will find educators celebrating each other! You don’t have to attend every event, but it won’t hurt to attend one now and again. You may or may not talk shop depending on the needs of the staff, but be a part of the time. Coaching can be lonely if you aren’t on a big team so it could be just as good for you as it is for them to build that relationship capital.
Not every day can start with a talk on a walk. So, when you don’t get this time, find another way to check-in. An emoji, .gifs, thumbs up or thumbs down, a Google form — I can count the ways! However, don’t underestimate the power of a written note, post-it left on the desk or in the mailbox if you want to leave a few in a short period of time.
You are the bank teller
Imagine a bank in which you are a teller and each dollar from new customers represents a positive deposit into your relationship with staff members. Those dollars you bring in for new customers, well they just give the bank more money! Are you going to be the teller that runs the bank with no customers making deposits or a bank with no cash? It takes a lot of dollars to keep the bank running with a high level of cash flow. So, just remember, the deposits never stop if we keep making withdrawals we must keep making deposits. It’s not just building relationship capital, it’s also sustaining the relationship capital. Teachers will trust you and innovation and coaching cycles can occur because of this. You will have a full coaching calendar with teachers inviting you into their classrooms every day.
Read more from Stepanie and Tara on their website, Control the Chaos. Be sure to check out their podcast! Follow them on Twitter at @mrshowell24 and @mrs_truckman.
Stephanie Howell is the CEO of Gold EDU, a founder of Global GEG, and the EdTech Lead for Pickerington Local Schools. She is key to the embedding and implementation of EdTech tools across her schools and organizations. She has a masters in Curriculum and Instruction and is an adjunct professor for Ashland University.
She enjoys creating resources to support the needs of teachers and students that increases engagement and levels up tier 1 instruction. She builds relationships with co-planning and co-teaching. She loves sharing her resources and connecting with educators across the world via social media and professional learning. When she is not busy sharing her resources and connecting with other professionals, she is spending time with her husband and son.
Tara Ruckman is currently Certified Crisis Prevention Intervention Instructor, Youth, Teen, and Trauma Informed Yoga Educator, Resident Educator Program Coordinator and an Academic Behavior Coach for fourteen schools. In addition to her roles in the public school system she is also an adjunct Professor for Ashland University.
Tara is key to embedding and implementation of Tier 1, 2, and 3 behavior interventions. ABA (Applied Behavior Analysis) and a Master’s in Special Education is her education. She enjoys dissecting intense behaviors through functional behavior assessments and turning them into comprehensive behavioral intervention plans to support student progress. She also loves the pro-active teaching of desired behaviors for students that need that support!
When she is not busy talking about behavior analysis, you will find her trying to show the people she loves how they are her #1!
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To be reminded why your work is so very important and for more stories and advice, visit our collection of teacher perspectives at The Art of Teaching.