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The Importance of Building Rapport with Teachers

25 Sep 2013 by Guest Blogger

We are excited to have Sara Beach guest blog for us today. As a former Teachstone Staff Trainer, she frequently presented on topics such as Helping Teachers with the Instructional Supports, through active, adult-learning approaches. She has been an Infant-toddler teacher, center director, education specialist, coach-mentor, and early childhood college instructor, and her highest honor has been supporting teachers.

If you work closely with teachers and your goal is to help them increase the effectiveness of their interactions, this blog post is for you!

As coaches, we tell teachers:

  • Work to build an authentic relationship with each child. Be attuned to their emotions, have social conversations, and share in activities with them. Encourage them to converse and share experiences with their peers.
  • Authentically express positive emotions like enthusiasm, happiness, and fun! Enjoy being with children—promote an atmosphere in which they can enjoy their peers. Make your classroom a place they want to be.
  • Provide ample praise, encouragement, and affection, so much so that they feel genuinely liked, cared about, and important to you.
  • Demonstrate genuine respect through the things you say and do, and you will earn their respect in return.
  • Appropriate behaviors are not learned through criticism, threats, or punishment. To guide behavior and encourage participation, you must share a connection. Find out what motivates them and build on their strengths—inspire their desire to perform.

We say this to teachers so often that it just rolls off our tongues. But do we take our own advice when we are coaching teachers? It is difficult to learn, understand, and apply the CLASS Instructional Support dimensions intentionally and “in the moment.” Developing these skills takes “buy-in,” openness, self-reflection, and willingness to change and grow. Encouraging teachers toward more effective interactions means we must inspire commitment, hard work, and an acceptance that they may fall short sometimes. This can only happen within the context of safe, supportive relationships built around encouragement and authenticity.

How do children feel when they hear more negative feedback than positive? Might that be how some teachers feel? Building upon teachers’ strengths is a core tenet of the research-proven coaching model, MyTeachingPartner Coaching (MTP). Change or growth rarely happens outside of positive, supportive relationships. As coaches, managers, and trainers, do we make the same effort with teachers that we are asking for them to put in with children? I encourage you to read the list of bold phrases above, this time considering your relationships with the teachers you coach. Our work together with teachers should be seen as collaborative: “I’m here to support you, and we will learn and practice these Instructional Support strategies together.”

We can all benefit from putting on our CLASS lens and engaging in self-reflection about our interactions. To this end, Teachstone is excited to roll out our new one-day Instructional Support Strategies training, available October 2013. At this training, we'll take a closer look at how we may better engage teachers in this critical learning process by intentionally building rapport, relationships, and a collaborative spirit. I hope to see you there!