Influencing behaviors reflects changing teachers’ knowledge, skills, and dispositions within the context of their classrooms. The ability to influence teachers begins with understanding the beliefs and needs of the teacher, identifying and managing barriers, and jointly determining goals. The ability to influence – create and sustain positive change in others – encompasses related core competency strategies: trusting relationships and collaboration, positive interactions, motivation and reinforcement, active leadership, and acknowledging and accommodating important aspects of the change process. Five Core Competencies are embedded in Strategic Component 2.
Core Competency 3: Relationships/Collaboration
The coach-teacher relationship is a learning relationship in which both the coach and teacher gain knowledge. The relationship is built on mutual trust, shared goals, and commitment to growth and change. It manifests itself in the willingness of both the coach and the teacher to take risks, make mistakes, and accept each others’ strengths and weaknesses. Communication skills, such as [active] listening, empathy, questioning, clarification and reflection, and restatement of content knowledge and feelings are essential to relationship building. Strategic Coaches:
- Explicitly maintain or enhance teachers’ self-esteem through their actions and words.
- Listen with empathy to teachers’ concerns, challenges, and needs and respond with strategies teachers can use to address them.
- Collaborate with teachers to identify and prioritize areas to focus improvement efforts.
Core Competency 4: Interactions
Adult-child, child-child, and adult-adult interactions are important aspects of every classroom, impacting children’s security, behavior, and learning. Strategic Coaches:
- Explicitly acknowledge teachers concerns, interests, and ideas.
- Increase teachers’ use of questioning and responses to children to promote higher-order thinking skills and extend children’s learning.
- Help teachers learn to focus on children’s responses and the impact instructional practices have on children’s knowledge, skills, and dispositions.
- Facilitate conversations to scaffold teachers’ learning and use of language to reflect on their own learning.
Core Competency 5: Motivation/Reinforcement
Motivation affects the amount of time people are willing to devote to learning which affects positive change. Preconceived ideas and resistance can be overcome by motivational strategies. Strategic Coaches:
- Help teachers see the usefulness of their learning and how this new learning impacts what children are learning and doing.
- Motivate and inspire teachers through collaboration, resolving problems, recognizing accomplishments, and rewarding achievements.
Core Competency 6: Leadership
Leadership requires coaches to have the tools to influence teaching and improve classroom instruction. They must have a clear and informed vision of what they want the classroom to look like, translate that vision into goals, develop and implement an action plan and monitor progress, and intervene in a supportive manner when necessary. Strategic Coaches:
- Help teachers understand the purpose and procedure of coaching.
- Identify goals focusing attention on improving instruction, develop a plan of action, and monitor progress toward achieving those goals.
- Identify problems that impede progress and design and implement intervening strategies to solve problems and overcome barriers.
- Foster a learning community between and among teachers who share information and concerns and who learn from each other as well as from the coach.
Strategic Coaches are expected to conduct themselves in a professional manner as they work with teachers and staff, colleagues, and families and their children.
Core Competency 7: Change Process
In order to effect productive change, one has to understand that change is a process not an event and that a person (adult or child) goes through a series of stages as they adopt new behaviors and practice to automaticity. These stages range from no engagement in activities to full engagement and vary in intensity and expression across the stages. Coaches and teachers must attend to the process of change if, in fact, learning is to occur. Strategic Coaches:
- Support teachers as they move through the various levels of change.1
- Provide a series of learning experiences (coaching sessions) while simultaneously addressing related personal “stages of concern.” 2
Archie George, et. al., Measuring Implementation in Schools: The Stages of Concern Questionnaire (Austin, TX: Southwest Educational
Development laboratory, 2006).