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Desert Highway
Thoughtful writing authored and shared by members of of the Thinking Collaborative community to support others on the journey.

Sustaining the Journey

Developing Trust for a Coaching Relationship

Authored By:

Thinking Collaborative


May 04, 2015

In the next weeks, we will chronicle the reflections of a Cognitive Coach working with a teacher who has transformed through the coaching process. We have not included names in order to protect confidentiality. The themes of this case study reverberate through many systems and serve as important learning for us all.

I was sent to work with a veteran teacher who was placed on an improvement plan. When I met the teacher, she was mistrusting of everyone in her building except the bookkeeper and skeptical of my presence as well. She was placed on the improvement plan last year, then moved from 3rd grade to 1st grade this year. She quickly revealed feeling overwhelmed and uncertain of where this was heading.

I realized that she was not ready to begin her lesson, so I asked her what I could do to help her. I began establishing trust by helping her cut out materials she needed for the lesson that would begin in minutes. I emphasized my role and focus on supporting her as we talked. While talking about data, she indicated that her principal wanted to take videos, but she did not feel positive about that. I shared with her how I could capture a few short segments of her lesson, deposit them on her computer and they would only be shared if she chose to do so. I told her she could view and reflect on them during our conversation after her lesson. I promised her that this experience would be different than what she may have experienced in the past and she agreed to use video as data.

Long story WAS different for her. As she reflected upon her lesson, she initially felt that the lesson went well. She was then asked if she would like to view the video data. As she watched the segments, she made connections that had not been apparent during her immediate reflection of the lesson. Her learning that day allowed her to identify next steps for focus in future lessons. At the end of the reflection, she asked why she had never had anyone ever talk to her in the way I had. “This had been helpful,” she said. Before I left the building, she came looking for me with tears in her eyes and said that she wanted me to know that her experience with me had been as impactful as one she had experienced once before while on a women's retreat.


How did the coach consciously develop trust and rapport?

What lessons might there be for us as this story unfolds?

How might you apply those lessons in your work?

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