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Unconventional Relationship Building in the Coaching World

I love being a mathematics coach! I have the pleasure of working with a variety of talented teachers and students who are all interacting with the same curriculum resource. I have spent my first official year as a coach getting to know teachers and their teaching styles, but I since I am spread out between 5 different buildings this year, it is more of a struggle for teachers to get to know me. I have been trying to create new ways for the staff to get to know about my interests and personal life.

In order to prepare myself for this coaching role, I have read many blog posts, articles, and books that speak to the importance of relationship building in the coaching world and how a coach needs to establish trust and a connection with a teacher first. Taking this approach might mean that the "coaching cycle" enacted is more teacher-centered versus student-centered. While I believe that there could be a true benefit to this approach at given times, I am finding it difficult to "schedule" this relationship-building time into the the school day. Thus, I have developed my own methods for establishing this relationship piece.

1. Weekly Calendar Share

As I said before, I spend my week traveling between five buildings, which means that I am planning out every minute of my day. For a gold personality like me, I love doing this, but the issue that comes is how to effectively communicate this schedule with the staff in these buildings. I didn't like the idea of one more email (teachers already have enough!) and I didn't want to share my Google Calendar with everyone because I keep my coaching cycle participants anonymous. So, after talking with some mathematics coaching friends, I decided to follow their lead and create a color-coded weekly calendar on Google Sheets. This format informs everyone of where I am, for how long, and for what, while keeping everyone anonymous.

On Thursdays and Fridays, I make sure that I have color-copies of the following week's calendar printed. I hang these eye-level above the copy machines, next to teacher mailboxes, and on the window of my office. This way, there is no question about what I am doing at any given moment and teachers do not have to search to find my whereabouts. Everyone goes to the copier and to the mailboxes-maybe even multiple times a day. Having this schedule readily available creates transparency, which increases the level of trust.

At the end of each week I come back to the Google Sheet on my computer and calculate the percentage of time spent at each school along with the percentage of time spent engaging in each type of activity (listed at the bottom). I am going to use this information at the end of the school year to help my argument in how the amount of coaching available in a school impacts the culture and instructional shifts in a school.

2. Check In Emails