In the current day and age of accountability, ESL teachers may find themselves thrust into the position of teaching students and training colleagues. This can be a very challenging position when an ESL teacher has not been trained on how to best support colleagues who may even have more teaching experience. However, there are some tips of the trade learned over the years that help this transition from teacher to coach.
Before beginning coaching, an ESL teacher must establish trust with the general education teacher. This can be done through consistent and efficient communication. Some suggestions may be to use a common planning period, emails, calls, texts, etc. Obviously, everyone is busy, so valuing time and appointments is increasingly important.
Another way of establishing trust would be to use respectful language and value the colleague’s experience. This is especially important when colleagues feel intimidated by someone coming into their classroom. A compliment goes a long way, so the initial meeting may be a good time for the ESL teacher to talk about something admirable about the general education teacher.
Creating a safe, comfortable, judgment-free zone is another way to establish trust. Trying something new, especially for seasoned teachers, is difficult, so this type of environment would allow for trial and error without retribution. A comfortable environment will also encourage questions and clarify misunderstandings.
Trust is particularly important in the age of accountability where teachers are responsible for the assessment of all students. Teachers are hungry to try new things, especially when it will raise achievement, but a circle of trust needs to be established to reap the most benefits. Although establishing trust with a colleague takes time, it will pay dividends in the end to raise achievement for all students.