Vicki Collet, Associate Professor at the University of Arkansas, recommends three traits that coaches should refine when working remotely.
e're in a time when our regular routines have been interrupted. Maybe, like me, you've struggled to know how to help educators who are overworked and overwhelmed, so you've put your typical coaching practices on hold along with your own professional growth. Perhaps, though, this change in routine has also opened space for reflection.
I've personally felt the need to pause, ponder, and take stock of how I relate with others and wonder if our new reality offers opportunities to cultivate attributes that could make us better coaches.
Relational characteristics can make or break a coach's work, even if all the right procedures and protocols are in place. This is especially true when coaching remotely. Although there are many attributes important to the relational work of coaching, three seem vital in our current reality: courage, consistency, and joyfulness. These attributes can be strengthened now and carried with us into future coaching work.
Right now, you may find it difficult to face each new day because of the uncertainty. That's okay. You are practicing courage. Courage isn't about being fearless, it's about moving forward in spite of fears. You show courage as you manage your fear instead of letting it manage you. Practicing courage every day often means acting in the space between how things are and how you wish they could be.
Today, you might be an everyday hero because you both offered and received comfort. Perhaps your heroic act might be apologizing, or you might show courage by starting something new or by doing something long-established, even though it's harder now. As you act with courage, you're strengthening a relational skill that makes your coaching better.
Developing consistent routines and practices is not just good for little people: adults, too, thrive when they know what to expect. When teachers know what they can count on, it makes them more likely to engage in coaching work. So now that your normal routines are likely disrupted, ask yourself the following questions:
What are you doing to maintain consistency for yourself and others?
What can teachers be sure you will do?
What are you relentlessly consistent about?
Will you always listen first before jumping in with suggestions?
Do you always send a Friday email highlighting something positive from the week?
Joy can be effusive and jubilant, and it can also be contentment at our inner core, the ability to find quiet delight in the present, and purpose and positivism for the future. A positive outlook will draw teachers to you and help anchor them in a time of change.
How can you cultivate joyfulness now, when you may feel constrained and worried? Make space for reflection, practice presence, do meaningful work, and strengthen your relationships. These habits will serve you well now and will continue to bring joy once routines become normalized.
Personal characteristics like empathy, curiosity, humility, and approachability also support your coaching work. In uncertain times, however, traits like courage, consistency, and joyfulness become key to the relational work of coaching. Now ask yourself, which attribute attracted you as you read through the descriptions above? Choose one to nurture now, and it will strengthen your future coaching work!
About our Guest Blogger
Vicki S. Collet is an associate at the University of Arkansas. Prior to becoming a teacher educator, she worked as a district curriculum coordinator, instructional coach, interventionist, and elementary and secondary classroom teacher.