Mind the Gap?

                                    Graphic Source

                                   Graphic Source

The first time I heard "most resistance to change is not related to a will issue..." it felt like a breath of fresh air. I believe in my colleagues. But I have, also, felt the sting of resistance as I lead learning experiences. At times, I found the reactions of my peers devastating. Why were my friends reacting to new learning with such frustration? I couldn't reconcile what I knew (the teachers I work with care deeply about kids and do great things) and what I felt (the teachers I work with are frustrated with new learning related to best practice). This is why   "Mind the Gap" has been so powerful. It is not about me!

When working with others, believing the best is key. Always. Simple as that.

Very few people actually have a will gap, meaning that they are completely unwilling to embrace x, y, or z. Instead, there is usually more to the story! It is so easy to get caught up in the frustrations of others and miss what is really happening. So here is a simple piece of advice: When working with others, believing the best is key! Always. Simple as that.

Mind the Gap gives coaches a frame of reference when helping a peer work through their frustrations. Knowing where someone is coming from is essential in communicating value and care for an individual. Here is an example.

Last year, when working with a young teacher, Jenni. I noticed Jenni increasingly frustrated with the behavior of her students. The kids were being disrespectful and she was over it. Why were they treating her so poorly?! She is an engaging teacher who loves kids. Quickly, the frustrations grew to disenchantment. Jenni started to wonder if middle school was for her. Luckily, she had multiple levels of support via myself, a learning team coach, and a peer mentor. Together...we quickly identified the gap. Jenni had not been trained in a district initiative which served as a cornerstone for building relationships and managing student behavior. Without this training, she was feeling cut off at the feet. This is where the various levels of support got to jump in. We helped brainstorm some temporary solutions for Jenni's classroom and ensured that she experienced the training as soon as possible.

Knowing Jenni's gap was essential in this situation. She was missing a skill. Her frustrations weren't about the initiatives or even the kids. They were truly related to needing some skills she did not come to Nevada with. Now Jenni is still the same engaging teacher who loves kids, but she also has tools to further build relationships and manage behavior. 

The applications of Mind the Gap are endless within a coaching environment. I can tell you, from experience, that keeping these things in mind helps me depersonalize frustration and do what I am here for- support my peers. 

If you are interested in learning more about Mind the Gap, I suggest reading Elena Aguilar's "The Art of Coaching". Interested in a shorter read? Check out this article.