“I’m ready to learn”
Stuck in a pattern of resistance with a problem teacher, this educational coach changed strategy
Last year, as I began my 21st year in education, I was asked to be the school district’s Dual Language Instructional Coach. With this new position, I was better able to focus on coaching teachers wherever I was needed. I currently see about 50 teachers each week in different campuses to help them refine their instructional methods. I’ve always had beautiful experiences while working with the teachers and in seeking ways to offer them support.
The exception, however, was one teacher who was not accomplishing much in her classroom. The students always remained at their desks, and they seemed bored. For a few weeks, my efforts to coach her were like carrying the cross. No matter how much I tried to support her, nothing seemed to change, and if anything, she became even more reluctant.
I would always give her three positive comments and end with one suggestion. I tried in many ways to have her reflect on the lesson and on her students’ learning by asking, “What do you think went well?”
However, this coaching cycle went on and on, but it made no difference. She would frequently tell me that she was doing a great job and did not need my help, often saying, “I did that yesterday!” or “You missed it when you came in!”
By the beginning of the second semester, our district’s student performance reading and math scores came in. This teacher had barely brought a 7% growth in her students’ reading, and by this time, the district and principal knew she would be fired.
However, they also knew that my motto was, “Let me help and support to the maximum, no matter how difficult the situation.” Though my principal trusted my professional judgment in continuing to support her, privately, I sought the face of Jesus who was present in this teacher.
So I went to visit her, prepared with proposals to bring up her scores, along with concrete steps to change to achieve this. Before going into her room, I said a prayer for perseverance to not give up on her, despite everything. Sadly, however, the same scenario continued.
Then one day, I discreetly discussed my difficulty in loving her with others who also try to live the spirituality of unity, and they shared my burden. I felt a deeper connection when I prayed to the Holy Spirit, asking, “Please speak through me; help me in this situation.”
The next time I entered this teacher’s room, after hearing her usual “You missed it!” I kindly told her, “You say that all is going well; I can see that you don’t need my help. But, I’m available if you ever need me; here is my phone number and where you can reach me.”
Within 15 minutes, I got a text from her saying, “I’m ready!” I ran to her room thanking God for this transformation I felt coming. I smiled at her and she smiled in return. She said, “I am ready to learn from you.”
As I jumped with joy, I told her, “Know that these are not orders, only suggestions. They can be implemented and made your own.” She got out a notebook and we discussed every detail and procedure of her schedule, from the beginning of class until the end of her reading lesson. She began implementing my suggestions and more.
At the end of the year, her student reading student performance grew from 7% to 87%! She was no longer on a growth plan or at risk of being fired. Everyone in the district, as well as her administrator, was able to see the significant difference in the data, but most of all, to see the difference in her.
- A. P., TX
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