The Teacher Emotional Cycle with Coaching

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It is no secret that one year in the classroom brings about many emotions. The photo below by Ellen Moir of the New Teacher Center explains the researched emotional cycle a first year teacher will experience from August through June. [Click here to read more.]

teacher emotional cycle

I can relate to this cycle. I was so excited to start teaching way back in 2006 and started off every year gung-ho and beaming ear to ear. Then school hit me in the face with the whirlwind of deadlines and required duties. Just trying to keep my head above water, I usually made it to Christmas break barely holding on and fuzzy in the brain. I often didn’t know if I wanted to return, or if I was even capable of delivering the type of educational experience my kiddos deserved. But, low and behold, I got back on the horse and the rest over break was just what I needed. I rejuvenated and started to enjoy teaching again. Spring Break would come and go and I’d start thinking “I survived!” The reflection process would begin and I would start writing on index cards and post it notes trying to make changes for an even better year in the fall.

And that was the cycle I went through pretty much every year- sure some years my survival phase was shorter lived than others or my reflection phase was longer than others. But, this cycle is natural and the more we understand it, the better we can stay motivated and focused in the hard times.

It got me thinking about my current role as an instructional coach. Teachers I work with follow the same cycle of emotions in a much shorter period of time.

When I first start working with a teacher, they are so excited thinking of all the possibilities that are to come as they hone in and improve their practice. [Anticipation]

Soon after, they quickly realize the hard work required is more than they bargained for in addition to the normal requirements of the job. [Survival]

Having difficult, focused conversations on improving a skill set can get old and bring you down when you start to think, “god, do I do anything right?” Teachers start dreading our meetings working together [Disillusionment]

As the coach-teacher relationships deepens, teachers see me in their corner cheering them on as every step they take is putting them on a more elevated path of success and effectiveness. The small victories start to restore a broken spirit. [Rejuvenation]

Before I know it, the teacher is driving the discussions and suggesting ways to improve. They take the driver’s seat in their development and I begin to nod in agreement with a smile on my face that says “I couldn’t be prouder!” [Reflection]

However, as I have previously mentioned, the emotional cycle a teacher experiences when being coached is much shorter than a teacher emotional cycle that occurs throughout one school year. For some, it could be all in the same day, week, or month depending on how quickly they problem solve, dive back in, and apply feedback. What I will say is the quicker a teacher takes action, the quicker they experience and graduate through each phase.

I tell my teachers, “allow yourself to feel the moment.” If you are sad, frustrated, angry, happy, excited, etc just feel it. Brushing it aside to rush ahead to the next phase does nothing for your development.

A very successful teacher can go through multiple emotional cycles when being coached during one school year and that only means one thing- they are doing the work. No one is perfect, so if you only go through one emotional cycle when being coached during a school year, you aren’t putting in the effort to really get better. You are not reaching your potential due to your fear of the feelings this hard work brings on. Fearless teachers who are making waves in education today are eager to roll up their sleeves and dig deeper to see what they are truly made of so that their kids receive the best possible classroom experience imaginable.

Don’t delay your improvement. Accept the emotional cycle for what it is and then get to work. You have nothing to lose- only your potential.

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What scares you most about the emotional cycle you face when being coached? Why?

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About the author, Gretchen

I am an educator, passionate about cultivating talent in aspiring and new teachers through practical tips and strategies. My blog, book, and podcast are geared towards empowering teachers to enter the profession and stay there due to the advice and encouragement I provide. We have a real need in our nation for strong leaders in classrooms, and I believe its my calling and duty to coach teachers to achieve and maintain best teaching practices in order to drive the growth and success of our students in and outside the classroom.