Coach With H.E.A.R.T.: A Coaching Philosophy That Builds Relationships
Mar 5, 2017 Teacher Training 966 Views
When instructional coaches are initially entrusted with the responsibility of supporting the needs of teachers through a teacher-centered, student-centered, or combination of both models, they often feel like a fish out of water. Whether they transition from the role of a classroom teacher to a coach or whether they are hired from outside of the school district, they often find themselves wondering where to start on this adventure we call coaching. Instructional coaches are generally equipped with a specialized knowledge regarding a content area or several content areas, however, their knowledge is not the pre-determining factor as to how successful they will be, but instead their ability to build relationships is the key.
Theodore Roosevelt was once quoted as having said: "People don't care how much you know until they know how much you care". The most effective coaches are the ones who not only demonstrate care relative to their position or about their specialized knowledge, but about their relationships with the classroom teachers. In order to express to classroom teachers, the direct recipients of coaching, that they are appreciated and valued it is necessary to develop and to abide by a coaching philosophy. One coaching philosophy that may be useful is to coach with H.E.A.R.T. The acronym H.E.A.R.T. stands for honor, enthusiasm, authenticity, reflection, and trustworthiness.
One lesson may be beneficial to coaches is for them to honor what everyone, in their coaching experiences, bring to the table. The term table in this sense is symbolic of an encounter. As coaches, it is essential that it is kept at the forefront of the mind that everyone is able to make contributions that are valuable to the coaching relationship. These relationships should never be looked upon as the coach serving as the only one having experiences and expertise to offer, but instead, the relationship should reflect reciprocity. Teachers should share their experiences and expertise with coaches, and coaches should share the same with teachers.
Enthusiasm is also essential. Whenever coaches endeavor to introduce a change that will create curricular shifts or changes in the school's shared beliefs, then the coach should be the one who demonstrates enthusiasm relative to these changes. Enthusiasm is contagious, and it is a major factor in getting teachers to "buy" into the change. Without a significant amount of "buy-in" from the faculty and staff, coaching efforts will remain stagnant and instructional practices unchanged.
Authenticity is another factor that aids in building relationships between the coach and the "coachee". Coaches must remember to be authentic or truthful in all that they do. A coach's ability to stand in their truth in the midst of possible scrutiny or opposition is necessary. A coach's ability to do so is not a matter of if they can do it, but how they do it. Coaches can stand in their convictions with truth, and also, with compassion. The goal is not for coaches to force a truth upon those being coached, but to invite them to take on a perspective that is grounded in research-based evidence about instruction or assessment.
Reflection is also vital. Coaches should endeavor to reflect upon their actions, their observations, their challenges, and their successes with great care. By committing time to reflect, allows coaches the time to adequately assess matters through multiple lens. Examining matters to this degree limits the possibility that coaches will make hasty, thoughtless decisions that impact those whom they coach.
Trust is the last, but one of the most important components of the coaching with H.E.A.R.T model. It is important that coaches give teachers a safe place to grow and to land. Creating an atmosphere for teachers to feel comfortable enough to take risks and to explore unfamiliar territory requires that they are guided by an individual whom they can confide in; in whom they can be transparent with and not feel judged or criticized.
When teachers can be supported using all elements of the H.E.A.R.T. coaching model, then they demonstrate less resistance and more receptiveness to the initiatives that the coach may offer. Furthermore, the model offers coaches a blueprint to use in building healthy, positive, long-lasting relationships that create shifts that promote student achievement.