Sustaining the Thinking Collaborative Journey

Mentoring Using Feedback, Part 1

In this early part of the year, there is a whole range of “new” that you might encounter. “New” might mean new to the profession, new to the building, new to the content area, or new to the grade level. All “new” requires guidance, support, and feedback. Certain types of feedback, though well-intentioned, can do more harm than good.
Paul Green, et al., discovered that negative feedback or disconfirming feedback rarely leads to improvement. Negative feedback is seen as a threat. The more negative the feedback, the further the employee will go to forge new networks and find a new supporting partner. Green, et al., calls this “shopping for confirmation.” If we don’t have connections that help us sustain a positive view of ourselves, we’ll actively seek a connection that does.
In traditional performance appraisals, the intent has been to initiate growth and improvement. There’s an assumption that offering the brutal truth will motivate someone to improve. The realization from Green is that people will be motivated to find others who will not shine a light on their shortcomings but that they will instead make an intentional shift toward people who will give them more positive reviews. It’s not to say that people don’t want to improve when/if they recognize a personal weakness, it’s just that they are now dealing with dueling motivations. “I need to feel I’m valuable, and I need to improve.” As human beings, we struggle with this dichotomy and prefer to seek those who value us.
So what about coupling positive feedback with negative feedback? Does the traditional “A Glow and a Grow?” work? We’ll look at that next week.

How might this new information about negative feedback influence your thinking regarding your work with students and adults?

Berinato, S. (2018). Negative feedback rarely helps people improve. Harvard Business Review, January-February, 32-33.

Mentoring/Coaching the Veteran Teacher

Last week we talked about mentoring the new teacher and that your default behavior is to coach. This week we consider how to mentor the veteran teacher.

It’s likely that YOU are an experienced teacher. You have reached this point because you have a full repertoire of skills that you have used successfully. To perform the delicate dance of mentoring a colleague who is likewise seasoned requires sensitivity and a readiness to learn from them. A coach needs to approach this relationship with respect and appreciation.

Teachers who have years of experience have encountered many initiatives and are aware of what makes an innovation successful. They hold a wealth of wisdom that cannot be underestimated. They are leaders who influence the intimate workings of the school.

So it is critical to build a relationship first. Trust takes time and is initiated by active, respectful listening. And as with the new teacher, your default is to coach. If they are unfamiliar with coaching, be explicit about how coaches mediate thinking. Avoid giving the impression that you intend to change them though your styles and experiences may be different. Be aware of your tone and demeanor.

Discover what they value and offer abstracting paraphrases. Offer to observe a lesson and collect data on an area of their choosing. As your relationship grows, trust yourself to tap into their deep structure.

What beliefs do you hold about mentoring that are living through your work with the veteran teacher?

Mentoring/Coaching the New Teacher

It’s that time of year when we welcome students and teachers new to our organizations. We generally feel prepared about how to provide for the needs of new students. We may not always feel as ready to provide for the needs of new teachers.

The sad news is that between 40-50 percent of new teachers leave education within the first five years (Ingersoll, 2012). The good news is that teacher mentoring has been shown to effectively reduce teacher attrition (Lambeth, 2012).

So how do you mentor new teachers? After making sure they are accustomed to their surroundings and are familiar with building procedures and protocols, the obvious answer is to coach them! Offer to plan, reflect, and problem-resolve with them! You can also choose to provide the other support functions (collaborate, consult, and evaluate) when needed. The key phrase here is when needed. When someone asks your advice, it can be so very tempting to move straight to consulting and to tell them what to do. Granted, you have an amazing repertoire and have been quite successful in your work, but you likely gained your skills and knowledge through experience. Experience is marvelous, especially when someone skilled (like you) serves as a coach for the new teacher as they set big goals, consider options, make comparisons, chew over data, and wrestle with challenges.

For the times when a new teacher asks you to tell them what to do, a “go to” response is to honor their current thinking and say, “I’d love to hear your thinking first and then if you still need my ideas, I’d be happy to offer some.” This automatic response indicates that you believe that they have the capacity to be self-directed and to make good decisions. Most times they won’t need your ideas!

As you mentor the new teacher, how do you make decisions about when to coach them and when to move out of coaching into another support function?

Next week we’ll consider how to mentor the veteran.

Ingersoll, R. (2012). Beginning teacher induction WHAT THE DATA TELL US. Phi Delta Kappan, 93(8), 47-51.
Lambeth, D. (2012). Effective practices and resources for support of beginning teachers. Academic Leadership 10(1), 1–13.

September 24, 2018

In the 3rd edition of Cognitive Coaching: Developing Self-directed Leaders and Learning (2016), Costa and Garmston “distinguish four functions intended to support teacher development: evaluating, collaborating, consulting, and mediating/coaching” (9). The authors assert that the “skillful coach will ultimate default to Cognitive Coaching as it is most likely to support self-directed learning” (9). With the new school year starting, professionals will need to make decisions about who they want to be as they serve students and colleagues. The Adaptive Schools Focusing Questions would serve as reminders: Who are we? Who do we need to be?; Why are we doing this?; Why are we doing this, this way? Professionals need to be clear about their intentions before selecting a Support Function. This month’s Sustaining the Journey will look at each one of the Four Support Functions.

Cognitive Coachingsm: The intention of Cognitive Coachingsm is to “transform the effectiveness of decision making, mental models, thoughts, and perceptions and habituate reflection” (13). At the heart of Cognitive Coachingsm is self-directed learning that encourages individuals to be self-managing, self-monitoring, and self-modifying. There are four maps that a coach can utilize to mediate thinking: planning, reflecting, problem-resolving, and calibrating. A coach’s tools include rapport, paraphrasing, posing questions, and full attention listening skills. Garmston and Costa assert that “Cognitive Coaches focus on the thought processes, values, identities, and beliefs that motivate, guide, influence…” (14).

An important capability is to know what support function to use at appropriate times. At the heart of that decision is to promote self-directedness in the individuals that we support.

What might be some instances when you might coach a colleague?
How might you make your intentions clear and signal your role with explicit behaviors?
What are some ways you might seek permission to coach?
How might you make Cognitive Coaching your default support function?

September 17, 2018

In the 3rd edition of Cognitive Coaching: Developing Self-directed Leaders and Learning (2016), Costa and Garmston “distinguish four functions intended to support teacher development: evaluating, collaborating, consulting, and mediating/coaching” (9). The authors assert that the “skillful coach will ultimate default to Cognitive Coaching as it is most likely to support self-directed learning” (9). With the new school year starting, professionals will need to make decisions about who they want to be as they serve students and colleagues. The Adaptive Schools Focusing Questions would serve as reminders: Who are we? Who do we need to be?; Why are we doing this?; Why are we doing this, this way? Professionals need to be clear about their intentions before selecting a Support Function. This month’s Sustaining the Journey will look at each one of the Four Support Functions.

Collaborating: Collaborating literally means to work together. Costa and Garmston write that the intention of collaborating is “to form ideas, approaches, solutions, and focus for inquiry” (13). The processes are marked by balanced participation, equal voices being heard, mutual work, and shared leadership and responsibility. Collaborators may come together to solve a problem, brainstorm possible solutions and best practices, research a problem of practice. They ask questions like, “What might be some possible approaches for us to pursue?” “What might be some relevant research or case studies for us to examine?” Because of the shared nature of inquiry and collaboration, this support function supports self-directed learning. Having and utilizing shared Norms of Collaboration and knowing structures, strategies, and protocols makes the process smoother and more productive.

What might be some instances when you are asked to collaborate?
How might you make your intentions clear and signal your role with explicit behaviors?
What might be some of the options you have to embed for self-directed learning?

September 10, 2018

In the 3rd edition of Cognitive Coaching: Developing Self-directed Leaders and Learning (2016), Costa and Garmston “distinguish four functions intended to support teacher development: evaluating, collaborating, consulting, and mediating/coaching” (9). The authors assert that the “skillful coach will ultimate default to Cognitive Coaching as it is most likely to support self-directed learning” (9). With the new school year starting, professionals will need to make decisions about who they want to be as they serve students and colleagues. The Adaptive Schools Focusing Questions would serve as reminders: Who are we? Who do we need to be?; Why are we doing this?; Why are we doing this, this way? Professionals need to be clear about their intentions before selecting a Support Function. This month’s Sustaining the Journey will look at each one of the Four Support Functions.

Consulting: Consultants serve as information specialists and they may have valuable expertise to share with colleagues. Too frequently, individuals default to the support function because they believe it is quick, easy, and expeditious. Costa and Garmston write that “consulting skills include clarifying goals, modeling expert thinking and problem-solving processes, making suggestions based on experience, offering advice, and advocating” (11). A consultant needs to work towards developing self-directedness in his or her colleagues. If not, the colleagues will be unable to be resourceful without the direction of the consultant. The “expert” or the consultant “informs” about these best practices, research, or policies, and hopefully offers a menu of options instead of advocating for one. The consultant might say, “Here are some possible ways to do this. Which ones sound most promising to you?”

What might be some instances when you are asked to consult?
How might you make your intentions clear and signal your role with explicit behaviors?
What are some ways you can seek permission to consult?
What might be some of the options you have to embed for self-directed learning?

September 3, 2018

In the 3rd edition of Cognitive Coaching: Developing Self-directed Leaders and Learning (2016), Costa and Garmston “distinguish four functions intended to support teacher development: evaluating, collaborating, consulting, and mediating/coaching” (9). The authors assert that the “skillful coach will ultimately default to Cognitive Coaching as it is most likely to support self-directed learning” (9). With the new school year starting, professionals will need to make decisions about who they want to be as they serve students and colleagues. The Adaptive Schools Focusing Questions would serve as reminders: Who are we? Who do we need to be?; Why are we doing this?; Why are we doing this, this way? Professionals need to be clear about their intentions before selecting a Support Function. This month’s Sustaining the Journey will look at each one of the Four Support Functions.

Evaluating: If the intention is to assess whether an individual is conforming to external standards, rubrics, or professional standards that have been adopted by an organization, evaluating is the support function of choice. Evaluating may be used to assess teacher performance, provide constructive feedback, or provide direction for staff professional development (10). Conversations might be around pedagogy, adopted rubrics, school expectations, or other pre-established criteria. Here the feedback may take the form of judgment, personal observations, advice, or collected data. The support person takes on the role of “boss” and evaluator. In the Cognitive Coachingsm Foundation Seminar, we stress: Carl Glickman says the same person can coach and evaluate IF:
• Trust exists in the relationship and the process;
• The behaviors are distinct;
• The teacher knows which is happening when.

What might be some instances when you are asked to evaluate?
How might you make your intentions clear and signal your role with explicit behaviors?
What might be some of the options you have to embed for self-directed learning?

Coach as Creative Liaison and Counselor

A qualitative case study of three coaches uses metaphors to capture their lived identities. The author deeply explores the relationships with a principal who was a partner to the coach (engaged and collaborative with the coach), one who is interfering (engaged with the coach and not the staff), and one who is neglectful (disengaged with the coach).  She analyzes the thinking and actions of the coach in each scenario and provides great insight to assist coaches who may be working in similar contexts.  The overall conclusion of her research is, “The environment shapes what each coach does and the coach influences the environment.”  Wheat Townsend explicates the complexity of the coaching position and assists those studying the position in ways to think and act in order to do authentic context-specific coaching.  This week, we will briefly explore Wheat Townsend’s findings for the third case study of Laura.

 

Laura worked in a school that had a series of principals come and go. The current principal was somewhat fearful due to accountability pressure from the district and was authoritative with the staff.  Laura was not included in the school leadership team.  Although the principal offered verbal understanding of the role of the coach, her actions did not match how she used the coach to enhance teaching and learning.  The principal even seemed neglectful of the potential for shared work with the coach.  Once again, the coach assessed the context she was working in and made decisions about the identity that would best serve all the stakeholders.  She worked as a creative liaison and counselor to the staff.

 

Creative Liaison

 

Laura worked behind the scenes setting her own ego aside and seeing the need to “establish and maintain community for mutual understanding and cooperation.”  She was determined to be visible, do work that was relevant to the needs of the staff, be a useful servant, and work on things that were most needed and timely.  Like Ryan, the nature of the culture of the building drove a great deal of Laura’s practice.  Wheat Townsend describes the work and moves of the creative liaison:

 

The Work Coaching Moves
Instructional coach creatively enacts essential components of a liaison
  • Asks the principal reflective questions
  • Guides conversations with the principal
  • Makes the invisible visible to the administrator

 

Laura’s conversations with the principal were based on positive presuppositions. She would strategically “teach” the principal by using language such as, “celebrate,” repeatedly with the hope the principal would pick up the kind of language that would be productive with the staff.  She also helped teachers to find ways, e.g., putting labels for literacy practices they were using on their walls, to assist the principal in seeing the work the teachers were doing.  Her subtle methods created new ways of seeing in the principal.

 

Counselor

 

A counselor commits to assisting each client clearly analyze a problem and develop resources for solving it in a nonjudgmental manner.  While personal counseling is not traditionally seen as part of a coach’s role, Laura clearly saw that the distress of teachers had to be addressed if they were to work productively on instructional issues.  She pushed the boundaries of coaching in assuming this role.  She was committed to seeing accomplishments for students without taking any personal credit.  Her self-awareness of her own values and beliefs allowed her to feel comfortable in the choices she made.  Her identity as counselor differed from other coaches.

 

The Work Coaches Moves
Instructional coach supports teachers professionally and personally
  • Uses flexible approaches to build relationships with teachers
  • Helps teachers coach and resolve problems
Instructional coach takes a reflective stance
  • Exhibits empathy and understanding with teachers
  • Uses analogies as a tool to reflect on and understand current reality

 

Laura’s ability to see counseling as a means to a greater end served her staff. By working as a creative liaison, she was able to stretch both the principal and the staff in order to contribute to the well-being of all.  Her identity was driven by her capacity to empathize with the difficulties of teachers and act non-judgmentally to invite reflection by the principal.

 

Consider these questions as you analyze this case study:

How important is the relationship of the principal to the coach?

How does the climate of the school impact the work of the coach?

How can a coach maximize effectiveness given the context of the school?

How does the identity of the coach impact his/her work?

Source:

Wheat Townsend, J.D. (2016). Context-Specific Coaching: Discovering the Complexities of Using Coaching with Teachers and Principals (Doctoral dissertation).

 

Coach as Ethnographer and Designer

A qualitative case study of three coaches uses metaphors to capture their lived identities. The author deeply explores the relationships with a principal who was a partner to the coach (engaged and collaborative with the coach), one who is interfering (engaged with the coach and not the staff), and one who is neglectful (disengaged with the coach).  She analyzes the thinking and actions of the coach in each scenario and provides great insight to assist coaches who may be working in similar contexts.  The overall conclusion of her research is, “The environment shapes what each coach does and the coach influences the environment.”  Wheat Townsend explicates the complexity of the coaching position and assists those studying the position in ways to think and act in order to do authentic context-specific coaching.  This week we will briefly explore Wheat Townsend’s findings for the second case study of Ryan.

 

Ryan worked in an elementary school with a fairly negative climate. He respected his principal and was aware that they had very different styles.  The principal came to Ryan seeking understanding of issues within the school and sometimes actually spoke to the fact that she couldn’t understand why the teachers came to Ryan instead of to her.  Ryan felt the staff had two styles: one group who wanted to be told what to do and one who genuinely wanted to by inquirers regarding their work.  Ryan saw the principal as authoritative and someone who was inconsistent in her responses often confusing the staff and sometimes interfering with the ongoing work of the staff with mixed messages.  He believed it was important to collaborate with the principal and took a nonjudgmental stance about her style, instead focusing on how to move the school as a whole.  In doing so, he became an ethnographer, a student of the culture, and a designer, one who intentionally created experiences to build on the climate and culture of the school.

 

Ethnographer

 

            As a teacher, Ryan had been a kid-watcher. He was easily able to transfer those skills into observing the culture.  He was conscious of the necessary cautions of being a participant-observer as well.  His main sources of data were observational, noticing patterns of behaviors, communications, norms, and use of language.  He also carefully paid attention to the unusual.  Much of the ethnography work focused on understanding the principal and her impact on the work of the staff.

 

Designer

 

As a designer, Ryan was required to consider how his observations might serve him in designing strategies that would not only support effective instructional practices but also move the culture of the school.  He carefully integrated practices shifting back and forth and integrating observation and design, seeing them working fluidly as one.  Working holistically required a much greater emphasis on the principal than we saw with Taylor as Ryan’s designs had to address the conflicting messages and even misrepresentations by the principal.

 

Integrating Ethnographer with Designer

 

Ryan’s two identities required high consciousness as they were so intertwined, each one informing the other. He was constantly moving from one to another.  Because of the pattern of interference and conflicting messages from the principal, much of his work as designer focused on the principal.

 

The Work Coaching Moves
Instructional coach observes principal behaviors to design
  • Studies principal leadership approach
  • Designs experiences to enhance collaboration with the principal
  • Observes principal response to teachers and students
  • Designs coaching conversations to use with the principal
Instructional coach observes the unusual in the usual to create opportunities for shared learning among staff
  • Identifies contradictory messages sent by the principal
  • Creates common understandings among staff
Instructional coach takes an emic perspective and collaboratively designs products to enhance the school experience
  • Observes how adult actions influence students
  • Designs products collaboratively with staff

 

Ryan wisely saw the need to collaborate with both his employer (the principal) and the staff (the consumers) in designing processes and products to serve the whole school.  He demonstrated the importance of the coach working not just with instruction but with the systemic influences in the school that impact climate and culture.  His intentional coaching of the principal in a nonjudgmental way allowed him to have systemic impact.

 

This week, again, consider the following questions:

How important is the relationship of the principal to the coach?

How does the climate of the school impact the work of the coach?

How can a coach maximize effectiveness given the context of the school?

How does the identity of the coach impact his/her work?

Source:

Wheat Townsend, J.D. (2016). Context-Specific Coaching: Discovering the Complexities of Using Coaching with Teachers and Principals (Doctoral dissertation).

Coach as Choreographer and Catalytic Leader

A qualitative case study of three coaches uses metaphors to capture their lived identities. The author deeply explores the relationships with a principal who was a partner to the coach (engaged and collaborative with the coach), one who is interfering (engaged with the coach and not the staff), and one who is neglectful (disengaged with the coach).  She analyzes the thinking and actions of the coach in each scenario and provides great insight to assist coaches who may be working in similar contexts.  The overall conclusion of her research is, “The environment shapes what each coach does and the coach influences the environment.”  Wheat Townsend explicates the complexity of the coaching position and assists those studying the position in ways to think and act in order to do authentic context-specific coaching.  This week, we will briefly explore Wheat Townsend’s findings for the first case study of Taylor.

 

The context in which Taylor, an instructional coach, worked is described by Wheat Townsend as a productive elementary school culture where the principal saw the coaches as a part of the leadership team.  There was strong collaboration with the principal and high trust in the coach’s abilities.  Leadership team meetings were synergistic and focused on the work of PLCs, professional development, and student outcomes. The metaphors for Taylor’s work developed by the author is that of choreographer and catalytic leader.

 

Choreographer

In choosing this metaphor, Wheat Townsend explores the unique relationships between a director, choreographer, and dancers.

“Ultimately, the choreographer works as someone who communicates and creates the dance based on the vision of the director, while being responsive to the dancers. She has to facilitate the dance in order to transform the overall performance from good to great.”

Given the high trust of the principal in the coach and vice versa, Taylor was able to efficaciously choose thoughtful and strategic choreographic moves which impacted how the school moved forward. They are described below:

The Work Coaching Moves
Coach was entrusted with leadership responsibilities
  • Uses principal trust to lead professional development
  • Leads the schools PLC processes
Provides direction to teachers based on school vision
  • Conducts purposeful planning and modeling with teachers to enact vision
  • Works with all teachers

Catalytic Leader

Because Taylor and her principal were philosophically aligned, shared a vision, and had a trusting and collaborative relationship, they were working from the same page.  That context allowed Taylor to work as a catalytic leader, one who works from a strong sense of purpose to share leadership and develop the individuals and the organization.  She knew she was empowered to make decisions based on the needs she identified in the staff and that her decisions would be supported by the principal.  Wheat Townsend describes the work and moves of Taylor as a catalytic leader:

 

The Work Coaching Moves
Influences teacher instructional decisions
  • Recognizes the power of data to promote change in teacher beliefs about students
  • Develops a sense of urgency for teachers to make student learning a priority
Creates conditions for teacher self-empowerment
  • Provides feedback to teachers on instruction through use of a rubric
  • Uses questions to promoter personal and teacher thinking
Navigates pivotal conversations
  • Gives teachers a varied perspective in approach to instruction of students

Taylor was able to maximize her effectiveness because she was working in collaboration with a principal who shared her viewpoints, valued her expertise, and trusted her work. What might we learn from this case study?  Consider some of the following:

How important is the relationship of the principal to the coach?

How does the climate of the school impact the work of the coach?

How can a coach maximize effectiveness given the context of the school?

How does the identity of the coach impact his/her work?

Source:

Wheat Townsend, J.D. (2016). Context-Specific Coaching: Discovering the Complexities of Using Coaching with Teachers and Principals (Doctoral dissertation).

Context-Specific Coaching

The position of instructional coach is relatively new in public education, first appearing in the early 1990s. Much is misunderstood about the work of an instructional coach due to conflicting messages in the literature, unique interpretations of the work among districts, and conflicting philosophies in the coaching literature.

While much has been written about the roles and functions of instructional coaches, there is little or no published work on the inner thought processes of coaches, the daily work of making meaning of the position, and the relationship with the principal. Jennifer Wheat Townsend’s doctoral dissertation has been shared with Thinking Collaborative. It is an excellent source of insight into many of the questions which have not been addressed regarding coaching. We thank her for her permission to use excerpts from her dissertation.

The qualitative case study of three coaches uses metaphors to capture their lived identities. She deeply explores the relationships with a principal who was a partner to the coach (engaged and collaborative with the coach), one who is interfering (engaged with the coach and not the staff), and one who is neglectful (disengaged with the coach). She analyzes the thinking and actions of the coach in each scenario and provides great insight to assist coaches who may be working in similar contexts. The overall conclusion of her research is, “The environment shapes what each coach does and the coach influences the environment.” Wheat Townsend explicates the complexity of the coaching position and assists those studying the position in ways to think and act in order to do authentic context-specific coaching. In the following weeks, we will briefly explore Wheat Townsend’s findings for each of the three case studies.

Wheat Townsend, J.D. (2016). Context-Specific Coaching: Discovering the Complexities of Using Coaching with Teachers and Principals (Doctoral dissertation).

Posing Mediative Questions—Open-Ended

“The marvelous thing about a good question is that it shapes our identity as much by the asking as it does by the answering.” – David Whyte

In your Adaptive Schools Foundation Seminar and/or your Cognitive Coaching Foundation Seminar®, you learned that questions can transform thinking. The skillfulness with which you pose questions can be the key to inviting more complex thinking.

The fifth element of an invitational question is that it is open-ended. By beginning the question with an interrogative, rather than a verb, the question indicates that a response will go beyond a “yes/no” answer.

How you might respond to the following questions?
Have you thought about regrouping the students?
Did you include standards in your lesson?
Will you bring this up at the next meeting?

The dilemma with these questions is two-fold. One, they offer a suggestion, e.g., regroup the students, include standards, bring this idea to the meeting. Once heard, it is difficult to think above and beyond the implied suggestion. And two, the thinker can only offer a yes or no in response. Over time, these types of questions can cause a dependency.

Instead, begin a question with “what” or “how” and you will likely invite more complex thinking.

Consider these revisions:
What might provide the best learning environment for the students?
What criteria did you use to as you planned your lesson?
How might the group benefit from your experience?

This week, jot down the questions you use and analyze your success at asking open-ended questions. Plan questions in advance of your next meeting or coaching conversation so that you might feel fully prepared to invite thinking.

Posing Mediative Questions—Positive Presuppositions

“It is not the answer that enlightens, but the question.” —Eugene Ionesco

In your Adaptive Schools Foundation Seminar and/or your Cognitive Coaching Foundation Seminar®, you learned that questions can transform thinking. The skillfulness with which you pose questions can be the key to inviting more complex thinking.

The fourth element of an invitational question is positive presuppositions. Positive presuppositions are very subtle, yet have an uncanny effect on the brain. When a person hears that they are capable, they move toward that expectation with intention. When hearing the question, “What evidence might you seek that will let you know you are successful?” the thinker perceives that they will be successful and that they will be able to confirm their success with evidence.

This week make a commitment to yourself to consciously add positive presuppositions to your questions. Pause occasionally and ponder your success. In what ways are you consciously growing your skills? (Did you see what I just did there? ).

Posing Mediative Questions—Tentative Language

“The key to wisdom is this – constant and frequent questioning, for by doubting we are led to question, by questioning we arrive at the truth.” —Peter Abelard

In your Adaptive Schools Foundation Seminar and/or your Cognitive Coaching Foundation Seminar®, you learned that questions can transform thinking. The skillfulness with which you pose questions can be the key to inviting more complex thinking.

The third element that invites thinking is tentative language. Tentative language offers the green light to explore. Words like possibility, consider, hunch, might, and option encourage the thinker to venture beyond their current reasoning. In meetings offer, “What are your hunches about…?” “What else might we consider…?” “What are other options?”

Make a deliberate effort this week to use tentative language. Notice how it effects both individuals and groups. How might you consciously refine your skill of posing questions that include tentative language?

Posing Mediative Questions—Plural Forms

“The art and science of asking questions is the source of all knowledge.” —Thomas Berger

In your Adaptive Schools Foundation Seminar and/or your Cognitive Coaching Foundation Seminar®, you learned that questions can transform thinking. The skillfulness with which you pose questions can be the key to inviting more complex thinking.

The second element of an invitational question is plural forms. When a plural form is embedded in a question, the person is invited to broaden their thinking beyond a single response. A coach/facilitator exchanges the word “idea” for “ideas,” “strength” for “strengths,” “choice” for “choices” and offers, “What ideas come to mind?” “What strengths do you hold?” “What choices might be available?”

How might plural forms transform a coachee/group’s thinking? How might you practice plural forms this week?