Day 1 Reflection:
Here are the major themes I took away from Day 1 of Level 1 Cognitive Coaching training:
Focus of Cognitive Coaching – One of the major insights I had from this day was that the cognitive coaching approach is driven exclusively by the goals and needs of the person being coach, or the “coachee”. As the coach, my primary responsibilities are to listen carefully and ask open-ended questions of the person being coached. Ultimately, I need to push the thinking of the person I am coaching without making myself part of the conversation. This is a much different way of engaging in a conversation, where the interaction tends to be more reciprocal and serves to meet the needs/goals of multiple people. In a coaching conversation, the coach avoids using the word “I” in their questions and statements.
Non-Verbal Communication is Key – One of the other things I realized from our training from Day 1 is just how important non-verbal communication cues are to having an effective coaching conversation. Specifically, the coach has to maintain great eye contact while actively listening to the coachee. In essence, the coach has to be nonverbally present in the conversation and mirror the body language and gestures of the person being coached.
Questioning – I also need to try to think more like a coach, meaning I need to ask clarifying questions, exhibit authentic and genuine curiosity based upon what I am hearing from the coachee. My questions must encourage higher-level thinking and metacognition for the coachee. There has to be a value in the conversation
Trust – It will take time for the coachee to build trust with the coach, especially if the coach has not worked very closely or at all with the coachee in the past. Even if there was a prior relationship, it could be a potential barrier to the conversation, as both are used to engaging in non-coaching conversations. A coaching conversation is different and within our district, the vast majority of our staff has not participated in coaching conversations as a coach or coachee to this point.
Out of all these, I believe trust to be the most important to an effective coaching conversation. Coaches must realize that trust takes a long time to establish and that building is a process. The foundation for trust is mutual respect among the coach and coachee. Both may have a different role, but both roles are important. One is not greater than the other. Perhaps the best way to build trust is by carefully listening, taking a genuine interest in the person being coached, and making the purpose of your conversations exclusively about the goals and needs of the coachee. The coach must avoid temptation to be autobiographical, inquisitive about what “I” am curious about, or solution focused to try to “fix” the issue for the coachee.
Day 2 Reflection
Here are the major themes I took away from Day 2 of Level 1 Cognitive Coaching training:
Five States of Mind
Consciousness – focuses on teachers monitoring their own values, intentions, thoughts, and behaviors as well as their effects on others and the environment. The goal in developing this state of mind is to help one develop a strong sense of self and others.
Craftsmanship – involves striving for an achieving mastery, grace, and economy of energy to produce exceptional results. The goal in developing this state of mind is to enhance one’s specificity and elegance.
Efficacy – Building an internal locus of control whereby people are enabled to produce new knowledge, engage in causal thinking, post problems and search for problems to solve, are optimistic and resourceful, self-actualizing and self-modifying.
Flexibility – seeing diverse perspectives of others, comfort with ambiguity, seeking novel approaches, and the capacity to change ones mind as new data emerges. The goal in developing this state of mind is to help build broader and alternative perspectives.
Interdependence – developing a sense of connection to and concern for the community and supporting expanding the capacities of groups and group members.
Rapport – This conversation was interesting. We learned that 65% of communication is non-verbal; therefore, it is important that the coach mirrors the nonverbal elements of conversation that the coachee is exhibiting. Specifically, the nonverbal components to be mirrored include: posture, gestures, proximity, muscle tension, and facial expressions. It is especially important for the coach to consciously establish rapport in situations in which the coach anticipates the coachee will be or is showing signs of being tense or anxious.
Planning Conversations –I can see myself needing to use the planning conversation map as I begin to initiate and partake in coaching conversations. The map helps me to have a visual framework to scaffold my coaching conversations. One big take away was that it is crucial for the coach to be ever mindful of what the coachee is thinking about throughout the coaching conversation and to be honest and transparent about the intent/purpose/and goal of the planning conversation. I especially like the questions that Sue provided: Where will it go? How will you know? How will it flow? How will you grow? How will this help you to know?
Pause-Paraphrase-Pause-Pose a Question – I found that being intentional about doing this was not easy, but it really helped me to be sure to listen very carefully, as I knew I wanted to provide a good paraphrase/synopsis of what the main idea or them was that the coachee was talking about. People do not often paraphrase in normal conversation because they are not listening carefully enough and are often more concerned about introducing themselves or their own perspectives into the conversation. Therefore, listening is really the key as it builds trust and buy in to the cognitive coaching process as is really is all about the person being coached. The best listening avoids listening set-asides, such as the coach being autobiographical, asking questions to serve the interests of the coach, and the coach offering up “solutions” to “fix” the problem for the coachee.
Day 3 Reflection
Here are the major themes I took away from Day 3 of Level 1 Cognitive Coaching training:
Posing Questions – Today, focused on posing questions that will stimulate the thinking of the coachee through asking mediative questions that target a specific state of mind that the coachee wants support in. In the process of posing our questions, coaches must be careful to avoid seeming interrogative. A coach can accomplish this by steering away from asking the coachee questions that serve selfish purposes for the coach. It is also important for the coach to avoid the perception of being manipulative, intimidating, or having a misguided purpose in their questioning. It truly needs to be selfless and its purpose must be to unselfishly serve the purposes of the coachee only. The best questioning is not interrogative, and promotes the thinking of the coachee at deeper levels than the coachee would be able to engage in without the coach. In essence, the best questioning pushes the coachee to engage in thinking at a level they would not have achieved without the coaching conversation. This creates a value to the conversation that makes the time investment by the coachee meaningful.
Mediative Questioning – Mediative Questions are questions that are invitational, engage specific cognitive operations, and are intentionally asked by the coach.
Elements of Invitation
Approachable Voice – When being invitational in their questioning, the coach be aware of their tone of voice and ensure it is approachable. Again, much of what we communicate is not the specific content of the words we say, but how we say it. Much can be read and interpreted from context and nonverbal cues.
Speaking in Pluralities – Instead of saying “What is the reason for this”, the coach needs to be mindful that providing multiple options for the coachee to choose might lead to a deeper, more open-ended conversation. It also avoids a perception by the coachee that the coach has a definite answer in mind or is leading them to a specific conclusion, but rather that the conversation is open ended and can go wherever the coachee wants to take it. Therefore, a better way to ask this question is “What might be some reasons why…”
Tentative Language – Instead of “is”, say, “might be”. Again, this avoids any perception that the coach thinks they have all the answers or that the conversation is for the purposes of the coach and not the coachee.
Positive Presuppositions – Much of having an effective conversation seems to hinge on mindset. It is crucial that the coachee feels supported for the duration of the conversation. Even if there may be some areas where the coachee needs to improve, it is better to avoid seeming judgmental or interrogative. Assume good intentions.
Open-ended questioning – Where the conversation goes is up to the coachee. It is important for the coach to provide the coachee with options and also the conversation is much more meaningful for the coachee when there is not a final destination and the focus instead is on the journey the conversation takes.
Day 4 Reflection
Here are the major themes I took away from Day 4 of Level 1 Cognitive Coaching training:
5 Forms of Feedback
Judgments, Personal Observations, and Inferences – This type of feedback must be avoided during a coaching conversation. The coach should avoid any misperception that they are being evaluative. Instead, it is the responsibility of the coach to ask appropriate questions to allow the coachee to make his or her own judgments, self-observations, and inferences of themselves.
Data – It would seem appropriate for the coach to visit the classroom of the coachee and based upon desire from the coachee, collect data requested by the coachee specifically about student learning, teaching learning, and teams/systems. It is crucial that the coach and teacher agree upon what data should be collected and the process by which the data will be collected. In this planning conversation, it is important to specify the methodology of data collection. The data can be valuable in many ways, but the purpose of collecting the data should be discussed and mutually agreed upon. As far as the conversation after the data are collected, this is really driven by the needs and goals of the coachee. It is important that the coach not introduce their own judgments or interpretation of the data. It is up to the individual being coached to derive meaning from the data. The role of the coach is to simply show the data and ask mediative questions.