Speaking the Right Language #sol18


Speaking the Right Language #sol18

March 1, 2018


I skimmed an article online the other day that said that the key to maintaining a solid, happy relationship was expressing love in the way that your partner wants to receive it.  The ways to receive love were fairly standard:  receiving gifts, quality time, words of affirmation, acts of service (devotion), and physical touch.   The trick is knowing which way feels like love to another person.

I’m totally clear with the way I express love to others,  I do things.  On a daily basis for the last at least 30 years,  I’ve packed a morning lunch for myself, my husband, and at some points along the way, one or two sons.  The lunches are fairly standard with the exception of having homemade cookies or dessert in them nearly every day.  As many parents (and perhaps spouses),  I try to keep to favorites and add a few surprises along the way.  In addition,  many people have received knitted scarves or Monday cakes and cookies over the years.   I also adore to make dinner for family and friends.

The way I give affection and the thinking about how others may want to receive it made me think about the way I deliver coaching as well.  Do I deliver my assistance, my coaching, my partnership in a way that is optimally received by the other person?  Is it what they expected?  Needed?  or even wanted?

I’ve had some amazing partnerships over the years. So beneficial and rewarding to me and I believe rewarding to the other folks involved.  An amazing partnership with a first grade team in my home state.  Debbie Miller enthusiasts,  we planned our cozy classrooms with child center learning right out of the pages of Reading with Meaning including a pilgrimage to see Ms. Miller herself.  I have a wonderful mentor relationship with my far flung former literacy specialist partner in crime trudging to New York a couple of times a year,  going to workshops, talking on the phone during our commutes,  sharing reading and driving each other forward.  In the eight years I have been in my current position,  I have forged true partnerships,  teaching in the trenches with so many wonderful educators storied in my instagram and twitter feeds.  However during these many relationships and all the new ones I begin,  I think… what is it that these teachers really wants… and needs?

As you know,  occasionally our wants and needs are in conflict with each other. We can’t see the forest for the trees and all that.  More often that not,  I’ll say that I’m not sure of either:  the want or the need.  I made a calculated stab at it, asking some tried and true questions and more often than not,  I get on the board, if not in the bullseye.  Sometimes,  it takes time to be truly helpful.  You have to wait for it.  Watch for it.  Nurture it.

So much like the thirty eight years of lunch making,  it may not be Mr. K’s preferred expression of love.  Maybe his original family was better at expressions of affirmations,  maybe they were huggers.   My way of providing support to teachers may not be their preferred way, but I hope it’s an honest way, a dependable way, a helpful way today and that it improves tomorrow.



Day 1  of my 31 day writing streak!   Thanks to my dear friend, Clare Landrigan (@clareandtammy) for the encouragement,  my special blogging partners who support whatever I throw down,  and the Slice of Life community beautiful choreographed by the Two Writing Teachers team.  Give writing daily a try and read some beautiful words here.


10 thoughts on “Speaking the Right Language #sol18

  1. I love the reflection in your post! I’m also a coach and I wonder many times if what I’m offering is what is welcomed. It’s an important part of making changes that stick. Your writing about acts of love is beautiful also–love how you wove that in!

  2. Yeah! So glad we are in this together! I love this concept of how people want to receive it. I have never thought about that before as a parent, spouse, friend or colleague. It makes so much sense – I love how you connected it to coaching. Coaching is an intense relationship and it is important to think about how support is received – not how we intended it to be received but received. So smart! Might also help me out with my non-hugging 18-year-old!!

  3. First of all, I love that you show love through food. Then to the coaching. It is such an interesting and complex role. So many personalities and needs to consider. I often walk out of classrooms wondering what I’ve offered. Lately, I’ve been thinking more about how to make real change.

  4. I enjoyed this post. The “love languages” idea is interesting to me at the moment for a variety of reasons, but I like to think that I also show love through my actions. Tying this concept to education is interesting – I was in a position the past several years where I was expected to “coach” teachers, while teaching my own groups, as well. (I switched positions this year, and now I get to be coached!)

    Your post made me think of how sometimes the administration gets in the way of the relationships of coaches and teachers – by mandating what must be worked on or setting up the relationship as one of “The teacher’s aren’t doing what they should” (which isn’t the coach’s fault). I think – going back to the love languages idea – we do need to build relationships by getting to know each other’s way of communicating – and sometimes just meeting a teacher where they are will be the beginning of a great partnership. Too often administration tries to get in the way by forcing relationships between coach/teacher in my experience. (Sorry, now I’m rambling!)

    • Sometimes we have to respectfully coach the principals too. As a coach, I know the principal sees things in walk throughs and observations and through conversations that he/she has questions about. We have exploratory meetings with educators and sometimes we determine that there might be more pressing things. Then we talk it over with our administrators. We walk a line and it is sometimes more difficult that others.

  5. I love this! Where did you see this article? I am not a coach but think that all coaches can be so helpful if they are “accepted” or “wanted” (not seen as a chore or a thing to check off the list) which has got to be a very hard task. It’s great that you are thinking about how you approach these coaching sessions from the opposite lens.

  6. I love this! I had never thought of comparing my love languages with my coaching. This really puts it in a new perspective for me. Perhaps this might make me a better coach… Thank you for sharing!

  7. Thanks for this. I think the line that will stick with me is when you said sometimes our wants and needs are in conflict. That makes your job so tricky…and all teaching so tricky. I know that sometimes my want of autonomy is really that I don’t want to change. What I need might be someone who pushes me to change even if I don’t want it. The bigger, fancier trick is to get someone to want what they need and ask someone to help them. Then it doesn’t feel like they’re being forced to do it. (I wish I knew how to put italics into my comments. That would make these “wants” and “needs” stand out the way I “need” them to.

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