Beware of Pitfalls When Your Teachers Have Gone Farther Than You

In thinking about some pitfalls I’ve observed and fallen into myself in some instances, here are a few nevers I’ve concluded are probably absolutes in coaching and in leadership:

  • Never, fake answers to academic questions when put on the spot by a teacher or student.  It never works.
  • Never imply that the inability of anyone – including yourself – to answer a question is somehow wrong or evidence of an inferior mind.  No matter what, we need to convey the underlying message that each of us, no matter how well-trained, will always have some gaps in knowledge.  And that it’s okay to be learning as part of a lifelong process.
  • Never, never miss an opportunity to find multiple ways to support a teacher you are coaching, especially on those occasions when he or she in demonstrating a skill that may actually be more advanced than your own.  It happens, and it’s cause for celebration, not embarrassment.
  • Never choose to skew feedback out of our all too human need to feel good about ourselves, our positions, or our roles as coaches, mentors or leaders.

We have a responsibility to serve teachers no matter where they are in their mastery of teaching.  If they have gone farther than we have, then it is incumbent upon us to do what we must to help them jump higher bars.  What a joy in that work, if we can rise above the sense of being surpassed.

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