Before my career in education I, and presumably many of you, had the sometimes pleasurable, sometimes painful series of jobs in food service and retail sales. Whereas I made it out of those jobs unscathed, I knew a career in sales wasn’t my cup of tea. I’ve been in the education field in multiple roles since 2005, and I love it. However, I can’t deny that there are elements of salesmanship in the field of education, especially if you are providing training. And so, as a Field Consultant, sales and I have been reunited.
I don’t know that I will ever say I’m a great saleswoman, but I have learned a few things over the years about how to nurture a professional relationship and start on a high note for professional learning. Here are a couple of tips that I have found helpful when building and maintaining my client-consultant relationships:
Do your research and adjust accordingly
I will admit that I often find myself reading lifestyle blogs and consequently opening my wallet to purchase raved-about gadgets. Yet, I would not say I am an impulsive buyer or fiscally irresponsible. I make purchases when the product meets one of my crucial needs or solves an impending problem. And if that product can meet multiple needs? Well, then I’m recommending it to my friends and family.
In my years as a GLAD® teacher and consultant, I have come to know the model as my go-to for first, best instruction, a toolbox of strategies that support language development, and a resource that promotes positive student-student and student-adult interactions. Project GLAD® aligns to current significant frameworks and topics such as MTSS and Social-Emotional Learning (SEL). It is vital that we, as leaders of Project GLAD®, highlight for our potential trainees the ways in which the model will bridge to their current initiatives and contribute to solving relevant issues within their agencies. Do your research. When speaking to an agency that is interested in training or wants to learn more, invest time in learning about their needs. Be specific about how the GLAD® model will help meet these needs, and add this pertinent information to their training experience.
Be present, for better or worse
In my current role as a school administrator, I have found that the staff members that I have the strongest relationships with are those with whom I have overcome challenges. This may have been due to a strong variance of opinion regarding what is best for children, communicating with an emotional classroom parent, solving a disciplinary discrepancy, or other similarly uncomfortable situations. However, working through these difficult situations benefited our relationship in the long run.
When working with an agency as a trainer or consultant, I think it’s important to show that your relationship extends beyond just those remarkable initial training days. You will be there for those exceptional training experiences, but you will also be a partner through the inevitable rough patches that occur once implementation begins. Being there as a thought partner when things become unclear demonstrates that you are willing and able to have hard conversations. I’ve found that in these times, it is even more important to be present with your audience than it is to be their cheerleader when things are going smoothly.
Project GLAD® Agency Trainers and Field Consultants are professional representatives of the National Training Center and OCDE, in addition to potentially other local educational agencies. Not only do we have a responsibility to these organizations, but the relationship that we cultivate with our clients and trainees plays a significant role in their success, our success as trainers and consultants, and the livelihood of the GLAD® model. Ensuring that this client-consultant bond is a positive one will set the right tone for your training experiences and establish you as a long-term partner and champion with your client.
– Stephanie Weekes