What is Compassionate Communication for Coaches? Hear from Expert Megan Tschannen-Moran

When instructional coaches strive to correct teachers instead of communicating, they’re playing a game where everyone loses.

Compassionate communication is a key component of evocative coaching, an effective coaching model from Megan Tschannen-Moran.

Her idea of a win-win game?

“Coaches coming together with teachers in connection to open up the realm of possibilities.”

In this PLtogether Lounge Talk, the author “Evocative Coaching: Transforming Schools One Conversation at a Time” talked to Edthena founder Adam Geller about why teacher coaches should use compassionate communication to connect with educators.

Watch the full conversation above, or read the highlights of what compassionate communication is and how it helps instructional coaches more effectively support teachers.

Compassionate communication for coaches is about connecting with teachers, not correcting

From her days as the founding principal of a Chicago elementary school, Megan Tschannen-Moran is experienced in supporting teachers.

“[It’s about]”, Megan said, “moving our collective work of the school forward.”

School leaders, teacher coaches, and teachers must all work together to help advance student outcomes.

Adult learning can often lead into unknown territory, which can be scary. Empathy is crucial for coaches supporting teachers.

Megan Tschannen-Moran warned, “If we’re not attuned to how people are feeling, and the underlying needs that are attached to those feelings, then we’re really missing a big part of coaching.”

Leaders and educators learn more when they are in a space of connecting, instead of correcting.

Coaches can reduce teacher resistance to feedback by avoiding judgment

When coaches or school leaders are focused on correcting what teachers are doing, that can sometimes go to a place of judgment and leave teachers feeling defensive about their teaching practices.

Instead, Megan explained, “Our job [as coaches] is to be attentive to what’s going on with the person we’re coaching. We need to … show up to our coaching ready to really be empathetic to try to figure out, what are the feelings that are going on with this person?”

“What are the underlying needs that are provoking those emotions, those feelings, and how can we move forward?” she added.

Megan Tschnnanen-Moran’s organization, Center for School Transformation, provides resources that help instructional coaches. She even provides a free guide to identify underlying needs by reframing “faux feelings.”

For example, if a coach is noticing feelings of anger from an educator, an underlying need may be for more safety and respect in coaching conversations.

Understanding a teacher’s needs underneath their surface feelings enables coaches to better support that educator with what they really need.

Connecting with teachers fosters more teacher learning and student learning

Learning empathy is at the center of compassionate communication training.

When coaches can connect with the teachers they support, they create a space for more learning to occur, ultimately benefiting students.

For more from Megan Tschannen-Moran, check out our article about helping teachers feel safe in an instructional coaching relationship

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