So what is our problem with mentors or coaches in education? Why do we like the idea of them as long as we are not the ones being mentored? We tell our students to work together, to learn from others, and yet our defensive hairs stand up on our necks the minute someone mentions a coaching or mentoring opportunity involving us. I happen to know that I have a lot to learn and yet the reaction even comes from me; what do you mean you are going to teach me something? I am doing just fine on my own, thank you, take your concern to someone who really needs it.
Perhaps this is our achilles heel as a community; the inability to take advice or have a discussion on how to improve ourselves. Sure we say we want to get better as teachers, but often that means on our own, not with someone coaching us. We, of all professions, should be embracing the very nature of the coach or mentor, or whatever you want to call it. We should celebrate when we actually have the opportunity to learn from others, with others, and yet most of us get defensive instead. Are we just too competitive to take advice? Or have we lost our sense of trust when it comes to others wanting to help us? Do we really think that we are doing our very best teaching every day? I, for one, do not, just look at yesterday’s post, but still why I am not asking people to come in and discuss my teaching? Why am I not the one out soliciting feedback from my local colleagues? Why do I hide behind my classroom walls as much as anyone?
So how do we build the trust? Where do we start as a mentor or as a coach or whatever other title may be bestowed upon us? Can teachers ever learn to trust each other enough to know that we are are here to be be the best teachers we possibly can be? I just don’t know but I hope someone else does.
For a wonderful perspective on lessons learned from being a coach, please read John T. Spencer’s post “10 Things I Learned From Coaching.”