I thought of a connection between two words recently – and I think they have an important tie to coaching teachers in the classroom: relief and responsibility.

Relief is a feeling of reassurance and relaxation following release from anxiety or distress.  Responsibility is the state or fact of having a duty to deal with something or of having control over.

Here’s the connection that I made between the two words as it relates to coaching: A top priority as a coach is to provide relief for a struggling, frustrated or just plain overwhelmed teacher.  We provide a sense of relief through a simple statement like, “Hey – I know that teaching _________ is super frustrating when you have kids that don’t get it right off the bat – let’s work together to solve this for you!”

However, then the whole responsibility thing kicks in.  Once we have primed the pump with the teacher so they aren’t leading with their frustration or overwhelm, we then owe it to them (and the students) to take responsibility for actually helping them overcome the barrier or get better at teaching.

I’ve run into coaching philosophies that are designed almost entirely around providing relief for teachers in need, but they miss out on the responsibility for solving the problem.  That’s where the real coaching work comes in and begins to transform a classroom.