How To Deal with Teachers Who Are Reluctant to Training

Dealing with negative teachers in the workplace can be difficult and frustrating. When things become toxic, it's far too easy to get sucked into the negativity. So, what is it to be done?

OK, first things first, I think every institution has come across with a reluctant or a negative teacher. You may have teachers who are directly defiant to training and make it clear they don’t want your help. These teachers may tell you that they don’t need training, that their classes are working just fine as it is, or they simply don’t want to be trained. Which is the best approach to address this problem?

Text by:  Despoina Papageorgiou

Tip 1:

Find out the Whys!

Don’t fall into the fallacy that your teacher is irrational or difficult like a spoilt student. There is always a logical explanation; they may not feel comfortable with training or they may not trust you as their trainer.

It should come as no surprise that veteran teachers are most likely to resist training. That’s not to say that new teachers can’t be resistant, but the longer a teacher has been in the classroom, the more likely they are to believe traditional instructional methods are best. These teachers have had success with their tried-and-true lessons and strategies, so they are not necessarily being resistant to be difficult, but rather because change may seem unnecessary. It is also likely that the educational system in which they attended and were trained for is a distant figment of the past. In this case, change may seem overwhelming to teachers. A new curricular initiative might seem like the latest wave of change that will eventually pass as they have so often experienced before, so trying to keep up and adapt can be frustrating for them. Even teachers who support change and willingly accept training may feel overwhelmed by the amount of work required to implement new lessons or instructional strategies.

Each one of these causes for resistance can be boiled down to one common denominator – fear. Teachers, quite frankly, are resistant to change because change is scary. Especially in an educational world already plagued with bad press, high stakes testing and questions of professional competence, teachers can be afraid that instructional coaching may illuminate their shortcomings. There is often a fear from teachers that administration will not help or support them if things go wrong. There is fear that a teacher’s knowledge or skills are inadequate. There is a general fear of failure. Teachers do not like to look incompetent in front of their students because they believe it dissolves their credibility as the teacher. The best way to combat each of these sources of resistance, however, is to build a trusting relationship with the teachers you are training. 

Tip 2:

Be honest!

As you build this relationship with teachers, it’s important for you to be transparent with them. If you have not explicitly explained your purpose for working with them, or your goals for instructional coaching, you need to do so. Be sure to address the why of what you’re doing. If teachers know you’re not there to judge them, but rather to provide advice and feedback that will make their teaching lives easier, they are likely to be more receptive to your feedback and recommendations. Empathy is a great tool to use in these conversations.

Part of being transparent also includes confiding with your trainees about your own struggles as a classroom teacher. Teachers and trainers must be teammates who study together, learn together, and grow together. If teachers are expected to be vulnerable with the trainer, the trainer needs to show some of their own vulnerability as well.

Through all of this, it is important to remember that teacher’s resistance is often not personal. As trainers, we feel so passionately about serving others that we personalize behaviors from others that we perceive as resistant. When teachers don’t immediately welcome your support, it is easy to wonder what you did to warrant their response, but nine times out of ten their behavior has nothing to do with you at all. Your role as the trainer is to understand who this teacher is on a personal level. It is your duty as the trainer to build a strong enough relationship with teachers that you can become a catalyst for change. 

Tip 3:

Give time!

Building relationships and connecting with resistant teachers will take time. It may seem counterproductive to spend this time upfront when you want to dive right into training, but without a relationship, it is guaranteed that no true training will happen. Many times with resistant teachers, you need to find one hook to draw them in before you’re able to break down their walls. This is where the personal interview becomes an essential coaching tool. Figure out what your teacher likes, what they are interested in, and what is important to them. It may take a few probing questions to get a resistant teacher to open up to you, so try starting with a casual conversation first, unrelated to teaching. Breaking the ice personally is the best way to engage resistant teachers. This shows that you, as their trainer, care about the teacher on a personal level, you’re willing to work at their pace, and you are invested in them and not just the initiative.

 Is Leadership a combination of discipline and hard work?

Leaders are readers and we as teachers, trainers and managers are leaders in our schools. So, what makes a really good leader? Let’s think about the great leaders across the globe. Which of their traits is the most characteristic? Well, the ingredients of an impactful leader are many, but we can all agree that discipline and hard work are the ones that stand out.

Leadership is all about what you consistently do on a day-to-day basis. It's all about your rituals and routines. Like all great success stories, it requires discipline.

It requires you to understand what you should actually focus on and be disciplined to work at it until it becomes a natural way of working. We as leaders need to move away from thinking about doing it to 'being it.'

Leadership is also hard work. Let's face it: Leadership is hard work, and it's getting harder. To truly excel, to truly be a great leader over the long term, you must have the courage and persistence to do the hard work of leadership. Delivering consistent financial results, attaining high team performance, executing strategy, managing multiple and often conflicting priorities, and driving innovation isn't easy. You must realize that there is hard work that you alone as a leader can and must do, and if you don't do it, you'll set yourself and your organization back.