Coaching Negative Mindsets: Pushing for Growth Mindsets

Instructional coaching brings me joy. Building a strong coaching relationship with an educator brings me so much happiness. I love to watch an educator master a skill, move from good to great and to become the educator that they have envisioned for themselves. I liken it to the “lightbulb” or “aha” moment that many teachers reference with their students. It simply feels so good to help someone feel successful!

Ideally, all educator and coach relationships are collaborative and the teacher is excited and appreciative of the opportunity to grow. In reality, that isn’t always the case. Coaching is truly human work and often time, for a variety of reasons, teachers aren’t receptive to development. Our job as leaders is to coach past, through, and over negative or resistant mindset. Here are my tips for when you inevitably are met with a difficult coaching experience.

1. Take a Strength Based Approach

Everyone has strengths. Yes, even your most struggling teacher! Ask yourself what does the teacher already do well? Take the teacher’s strength and use it to coach the area or

development. For example, if a teacher excels at relationship building with students, I can use that strength to coach the teacher on implementing warm and cold calling in their instruction. The key is to verbalize the strength to the teacher and stamp that something they already do well is going to help them improve!

2. Acknowledge Not Affirm

Nobody wants their feelings to be dismissed. When your teacher comes to your coaching meeting and is not receptive to your feedback or seems to be in a negative space, don’t ignore it. Ask questions. Acknowledge their feelings. The key is to not get drawn into the negativity, but to acknowledge while still holding the accountable to improve.

3. Celebrate Wins. Even The Small Ones

Reward and recognize when you see improvements! Celebrate the teacher openly and if they are having a hard time seeing their success, aid them in the reflection. Sometimes a large win is made up of lots of tiny improvements!

Erinn Cottman brings 10+ years of service in education. She currently serves as an Assistant Principal with a national charter network, where she has the opportunity to live out her passion for teacher development daily.

Erinn works with educators to help identify their teaching superpowers and then using them to ignite their student’s unique gifts. She helps educators build confidence in their craft, and ultimately themselves so that students can be profoundly impacted.

Find her at

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