Some teachers don’t want to work with a coach because they are afraid that the coach will add to their workload or tell them that what they’ve been doing is wrong. Listening well helps a coach work with all teachers, especially the reluctant ones.
When I meet with a reluctant teacher or a teacher who begins a sessions with “We don’t need to meet for long today because I don’t have any issues,” I ask him or her what he or she is doing in the classroom this week. Or I ask, “What part of your teaching have you been thinking about?” All reflective teachers have an answer to the question.
I get them to talk. While they’re talking, I take notes, and I look for patterns in their ideas. If they stop talking, I’ll ask a follow up question, or share the patterns I see. They always appreciate that someone is listening to them and taking notes.
After they stop talking, we look at each other and marvel at their ideas—not only the amount of thinking but also its depth. We then refer to the patterns and ideas in my notes in subsequent meetings. In addition I share a copy of the notes with them so they can see their thinking. Every person I’ve coached has thanked me for listening to them. Coaches help fill a basic human need.