Some teachers are always giving the reasons they cannot do something. Maybe they even share reasons you cannot do something.

To engage with each real or perceived hurdle would be exhausting, should you? Is there a better way?

What if all their hurdles are real?

Be Real Yourself

Do not cover up for shortcomings of any department/facet of school outside a classroom to any teacher – ever. Teachers do not and should not care.

If the technology, the firewall, the curriculum, the anything is failing them acknowledge how frustrating that is and honestly offer to help if you can, if you cannot help offer to identify the person who may help. Do not over promise. If you cannot help do not say you can. While it may seem the thing to say during an emotional conversation, you may set yourself up to fail.

Separate Problems from Complaints

When challenges include many complaints it is tempting to dismiss everything. But careful listening may reveal problems with existing solutions.

It would be honest to acknowledge the extensive nature of the teacher’s list, but then immediately offer to help overcome one challenge. It is more realistic to problem solve for only one challenge at a time, a teacher overwhelmed needs to observe you quickly establish a track record of helpfulness. Always ask for permission to reach out for other resources, other people to help. Do not do so without permission. If you offer to help you are committed and should expect to follow through. If not, you may be just one more hurdle to overcome.

What if all their hurdles are fake?Real or Perceived Hurdle

Willingness versus Capacity

Establish if the identified hurdles illustrate a lack of willingness or of capacity. If a lack of willingness, accept that you may not be able to help this educator. If a lack of capacity, are there resources at the school for teachers who need development? Inexperienced teachers can sometimes present both ways. You may have to research further, asking more probing questions to find the root cause of the perception. Often inexperienced teachers have mentor teachers which you might ask to bring into the situation.

Fear and Avoidance

Change is hard for people. Teachers may have repeated the same lessons the same way for years. And those lessons may already yield positive results. If change is the goal, be prepared to answer how the change may impact their classroom results. Consider a case study to share with them, “Mr./Mrs. (a teacher) in a comparable situation made this change and…” then be ready to model while they observe. Dealing with fear of change is not a rational process, so be kind in your interactions.

Not everyone is ready to accept help. Sometimes people ask for help because they believe they should, or that asking might buy them time as they try to keep their job, but really they are not willing to take help yet. A teacher avoiding real change while consuming all your time does not help anyone. You do not control when someone is ready to receive help. If you make your availability known, maybe that teacher will seek you out when s/he is really ready. And if they do not, it is (likely) not your job to seek them out for that kind of career transformation. Dealing with avoidance is frustrating, so be kind to yourself and know when to say when.

What if real or fake, the hurdles don’t matter?

You control no one but yourself. And while teachers may have real or perceived hurdles you help them work through them all.

You do this by focussing on what the teacher wants to improve and providing him/her with the time, support, and resources to get there. Because each teacher is different each hurdle will be slightly different in how you coach them to overcome it. But you are always the same. You are always respectful. You are always positive. You are always discrete.

Improvement is the goal and the timetable for improvement can be short or long. So relax, evaluate the hurdles and get jumping!