How to build relationships with instructional instructors

Teaching at any level can often be a lonely profession. Even with a classroom full of students, teachers often work in isolation from peers. Teachers rarely receive instruction on how to work with co-teachers or teacher assistants in their pre-service teacher education activities. Therefore, it is often difficult or awkward for teachers to seek help or to cooperate effectively with others. Trainers often do not know how to take help from instructional coaches, even when they want to.

Educational practice is shifting from isolated practice to collaborative effort, and creating healthy and productive team dynamics is often a challenge. Instructional trainers can positively impact these relationships, but there must be confidence to make it happen. Even in a system where working with a coach is expected, building that initial relationship can be challenging.

Instructional instructors, instructional designers and even hired co-teachers often struggle to establish working relationships with individual classroom teachers. Librarians regularly complain that they spend more time clearing jams from printers than helping students with reference questions. However, clearing paper jams can help students see the librarian as an asset. Similarly, instructional designers can begin to build a relationship by helping an instructor to properly format the hanging indents for a research paper. An instructional instructor begins to build a positive relationship by making copies for the classroom teacher. Just as the proverbial salesman had to step on the door, sometimes the first step is a small one.

Just as teachers rarely learn to collaborate with others in their classroom, instructional instructors and others in their stripes are often trained to focus on student learning data or technical skills analysis. However, this is only one aspect of the coaching role. Data collection and analysis is an important aspect of educational advancement, but it rarely succeeds as a first step.

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