Sustaining the Thinking Collaborative Journey

September 11, 2017

In the 3rd edition Cognitive Coaching: Developing Self-directed Leaders and Learners, by Arthur L. Costa and Robert J. Garmston, paraphrasing is described this way: “Paraphrasing is one of the most valuable and least-used tools in human interaction. A well-crafted paraphrase communicates: “I am trying to understand you and therefore I value what you have to say” (p 48). The coach or facilitator must select one of three logical levels to begin paraphrasing.

Acknowledging paraphrases are one type. The non-linguistic representation of this type of paraphrase is the mirror. The coach or facilitator reflects the essence of content and emotion back to the speaker or captures “group think.” In group dialogue or coaching, the acknowledging paraphrase helps to refine and mediate thinking. If the paraphrase is not quite accurate, the speaker has the opportunity to further refine the language of the paraphrase. Examples of acknowledging paraphrases might be:

“So you are excited about this new class.”

“This team is concerned about the reading initiative.”

What might be some ways that you can increase your use of acknowledging paraphrases to mediate thinking, “align the parties, and create a safe environment for thinking?” (Costa and Garmston, p 48)

The Power of Paraphrasing

Paraphrasing is a fundamental skill of mediation. The paraphrase develops relationship and understanding, enhancing the nonverbal skills of rapport. When a question is not preceded by a paraphrase, it can seem intrusive and pointed.

How can one become a better paraphraser? First, discipline yourself to turn off the noise in your head. Your own thoughts about what the person is saying can cause you to stop listening. The brain finds itself infinitely more interesting than what is going on in the outside world. Intentionally mirror the speaker and use rapport to tune in to the coachee and tune out the distractions that interfere with authentic listening. Listen with the intention to understand and not to speak. Consciously set aside autobiographical, solution, and inquisitive listening.

Listen first for emotion and content. Paraphrasing of both enhances understanding—we are both feeling and thinking beings. Listen, too, for identity, values, beliefs, and assumptions. These are at the core of our actions and often are communicated but are not conscious. The paraphrase brings the person’s inner self to the external and allows it to be consciously examined. Remember not to use the pronoun “I”. Costa and Garmston maintain that ‘the pronoun “I” signals that the speaker’s thoughts no longer matter and that the paraphraser is now going to insert his own ideas into the conversation” (p 48).

There are three broad categories of paraphrasing to explore and a coach/facilitator choose one type or another depending on the intention in the moment.

How can you be more conscious of your paraphrases this week? What might you do to sustain your journey as a cognitive coach or a facilitator of groups?

Using the Calibrating Conversation with the Other Support Functions

During August, Sustaining the Thinking Collaborative Journey will explore the Calibrating Conversation. Thinking Collaborative provides a one-day training in this unique conversation map for those who have completed the Cognitive Coaching Foundation Seminar®.

Although the Calibrating Conversation is grounded in the Cognitive CoachingSM support function, it can also be used in each of the other support functions.

The Calibrating Conversation can be used in the collaborating support function when two people share data to develop mutual understanding/meaning. In such a conversation, it is important that both parties contribute to the conversation in a balanced manner.

In the consulting support function, the coach has expertise about the standard. In this case, the coach would be providing information to explain aspects of the document with the intention to increase understanding of the document.

In the evaluating support function, the evaluator might ask the person to complete the evaluation document and the evaluator would also complete the document. The focus of the conversation would then be on comparing the two assessments and understanding each person’s point of view.

What might be some applications of this conversation that would support your work?

Envisioning Success in the Calibrating Conversation

During August, Sustaining the Thinking Collaborative Journey will explore the Calibrating Conversation. Thinking Collaborative provides a one-day training in this unique conversation map for those who have completed the Cognitive Coaching Foundation Seminar®.

There are two regions of the Calibrating Conversation that provide a vision for action for the coachee:
• Establish behavioral indicators for new placement on the rubric or level of performance.
• Describe support needed to get to a higher level of performance and commit to action.

The coach invites clear vision by posing questions for specificity about the behavioral indicators. The teacher creates an image of success for him/herself. Additionally, the coach invites exploration of the kinds of resources (human and other types) that will be necessary to ensure success with the behavioral indicators.

Consider your own coaching conversations as you begin this school year and reflect on why these two regions are so critical to success with this conversation.

Calibrating Conversations Support Self-Directed Learning

During August, Sustaining the Thinking Collaborative Journey will explore the Calibrating Conversation. Thinking Collaborative provides a one-day training in this unique conversation map for those who have completed the Cognitive Coaching Foundation Seminar®.

The hallmarks of self-directed people are those that are self-managing, self-monitoring, and self-modifying. The Calibrating Conversation aligns with those goals by putting the teacher or other employee in the driver’s seat regarding their own growth. By choosing a focus of one’s own, intrinsic motivation and a growth mindset are enhanced.

The third region of the Calibrating Conversation not only identifies a desired goal or placement on the rubric, but grounds the choice in the deep structure of the person by exploring how the goal aligns with the values, beliefs and identity of the coachee. The coach might ask, “What is most important to you about your choice?” or “How does this focus match the teacher you want to become?” By bringing the values, beliefs and identity of the teacher to consciousness, the coach invites a commitment to goals that align with the teacher’s deepest intentions.

This week, consider ways in which you invite commitment and congruence as part of your annual goal setting.

Using a Third Point in a Calibrating Conversation

During August, Sustaining the Thinking Collaborative Journey will explore the Calibrating Conversation. Thinking Collaborative provides a one-day training in this unique conversation map for those who have completed the Cognitive Coaching Foundation Seminar®.

A conversation between two people is a two-point conversation. When data are added to a coaching conversation, it becomes the third point. In a Calibrating Conversation, the third point is a rubric or some mutually agreed upon instrument such as a Configuration Map. The third point is neutral, providing a psychologically safe place to reference information and depersonalize ideas.

To use a third point in a Calibrating Conversation, the coach would ask the coachee to select a focus and then identify the existing placement on the rubric. Supporting evidence would be elicited before asking the coachee about his/her desired placement. This process provides the opportunity for self-assessment and self-directed goal setting. When used with an evaluation process, these two regions of the map set the stage for a long-term growth plan.

How might you consider using a third point in a Calibrating Conversation as you begin a new school year?

Managing Change by Managing Transitions—Mediating Your Thinking around Transition

According to William Bridges, Managing Transitions, organizations and individuals go through three transitional phases when lasting change occurs:
1. Endings (losing, letting go)
2. The neutral zone
3. New beginnings

As a member of the ever-changing world of education, you need support. Where might you find that support for yourself? What resources are available to you? Where might you gather feedback on the progress of the transition? In moments of uncertainty, what might it feel like when the transition is complete? Your vision will guide you through ambiguity and doubt.

Consider change as a series of photographs, with transition providing the captions. If you were to take a snapshot of this time in your life, what might the caption be? And… what is the caption for your next phase?

Managing Change by Managing Transitions—New Beginnings

According to William Bridges, Managing Transitions, organizations and individuals go through three transitional phases when lasting change occurs:
1. Endings (losing, letting go)
2. The neutral zone
3. New beginnings

Last week, we studied the second phase, the neutral zone. This week we’ll explore the third phase, new beginnings.

New beginnings require courage to embrace the change and to launch forward into a new situation. In a new beginning lives hope, growth, development, and possibilities.

To support yourself in new beginnings, set clear objectives based on your own purpose, your vision of success, and your career plan. Seek out the knowledge and skills that you need. Practice your new skills in low risk settings. Recognize your successes…and FIND A COACH!

As a leader, help your colleagues to grow the skills and knowledge they will need to move forward with efficacy and craftsmanship. Give people roles to play in the plan. Create focus groups to regularly review the plan and to provide feedback about communications before they are released. Celebrate your journey and your collective success. Reflect on the experience and create a vivid picture of how the new beginning will look and feel.

Next week…mediating your thinking around transition!

Managing Change by Managing Transitions—The Neutral Zone

According to William Bridges, Managing Transitions, organizations and individuals go through three transitional phases when lasting change occurs:
1. Endings (losing, letting go)
2. The neutral zone
3. New beginnings

Last week, we studied the first phase, endings. This week we’ll explore the second phase, the neutral zone.

Bridges describes the neutral zone as the suffering that occurs through the confusing nowhere between two somewheres. Ambiguity is strong in this phase and the tendency to retreat to the known past is seductive. People can be fearful and burdened with low morale.

The neutral zone, though, can provide a natural process of reorientation and an opportunity for a deepened sense of purpose. It is in this stage that you are being transformed into who you need to be for your new beginning.

To support yourself in the neutral zone, find a regular time and place to be alone to provide sanctuary for yourself. Journal neutral zone experiences. Put your thoughts into words to make sense of the “shapes” that are starting to emerge. In this time, you are discovering what you really want and who you need to become for the next stage.

Next week…new beginnings!

Managing Change by Managing Transitions—Endings

According to William Bridges, Managing Transitions, organizations and individuals go through three transitional phases when change occurs:
1. Endings (losing, letting go)
2. The neutral zone
3. New beginnings

Transitions begin with endings. Endings can be difficult because the current state is comfortable and provides certainty. To become something else and to do something new, individuals must change who they currently are and start doing things in unfamiliar ways. People experience endings in very different ways. Some people move rapidly into the neutral zone. Others grieve and cling to the present.

To support yourself in transition, it is helpful to understand your own patterns of dealing with endings. Start by reflecting on your history of endings from childhood through adulthood. What you bring with you to a transitional situation is the style you have crafted over time. Is your style abrupt or gradual? Active or passive? Tentative or courageous?

To support others with endings, clearly explain the change and why it is needed. Recognize that endings are difficult and confusing. Avoid wasting energy trying to make people feel comfortable and happy. Instead help them to succeed despite their discomfort. Conduct open conversations about what people are experiencing using Bridges’ transition framework to structure the dialogue. Mark losses with rituals and ceremonies. Provide time to grieve. Take time to create safe, stable structures. Listen, listen, and listen some more.

Next week…the neutral zone!

Managing Change by Managing Transitions

It’s that time of year! Change is in the air! Whether it is a new grade level, new building, new team, new administrator, new program, or even a new room, change in education is regular and frequent. William Bridges, author of Managing Transitions, maintains that when change occurs, successful transitions may not necessarily take place. Bridges observes that individuals and organizations can many times experience difficulty moving forward and embrace change without transition.

Bridges describes change as situational and what happens to people. Change is external and can happen quickly. Transition, on the other hand, is internal and is what happens in people’s minds as they go through change. Transition takes time because it requires a reorientation in response to change and results in a shift in identity. Transition is endurable when attached to a greater purpose and part of a movement toward a desired end.

Without meaningful transition, change can be distressing. Educators must skillfully manage change by creating conditions that maximize successful transition, for the good of the organization and themselves.

Organizations and individuals go through three transitional phases when change occurs:
1. Endings (losing, letting go)
2. The neutral zone
3. New beginnings

During July, we’ll explore how to manage change by managing transitions. Next week, we’ll study the first phase, endings.

Trust

noun
1.reliance on the integrity, strength, ability, surety, etc., of a person or thing; confidence.
2.confident expectation of something; hope.
3.confidence in the certainty of future payment for property or goods received; credit (Dictionary.com)

Adaptive Schools trainers are familiar with part of this research on the quest to build the perfect team. In the Foundation Seminar, trainers show a series of slides about team composition. Those slides point out that it is not so much the team composition that is important, but the team’s norms of collaboration that are important as indicators of success. What Google discovered through the Aristotle Project was that the best teams have members who care for and listen to one another.

Trust plays an important role in creating the emotional and psychological safety that Project Aristotle identified as the petri dish for team success. “What Project Aristotle has taught people within Google is that no one wants to put on a ‘‘work face’’ when (s)he gets to the office. No one wants to leave part of his/her personality and inner life at home. But to be fully present at work, to feel ‘‘psychologically safe,’’ we must know that we can be free enough, sometimes, to
share the things that scare us without fear of recriminations” (p 13). Google further defined psychological safety this way, “Psychological safety: Can we take risks on this team without feeling insecure or embarrassed?” That openness and vulnerability, that trust in one another, was a gateway to emotional and psychological safety and ultimately to team success. Project Aristotle identified the behaviors that led to trust-building: conversational turn-taking and empathy. They also cited balanced participation as a key ingredient. Each morning, the team would have a “check-in” or a “grounding” to help members focus the mental energy in the “here and now.” It was a way to ensure those trust bonds and to let teammates know that they are heard and more important than labor.

Rapport, BMIRS, eye-accessing cues, empathy, authentic, full-faced listening, Paraphrasing, Paying Attention to Self and Others, Presuming Positive Intentions, and personal risk taking are some of the ways for a team to establish trust. In a 1999 study, Amy Edmondson wrote this about psychological safety, ‘‘It describes a team climate characterized by interpersonal trust and
mutual respect in which people are comfortable being themselves’’ (p 9).

Bryk, A.S., & Schneider, B. (2003), Trust In Schools: A Core Resource for School Reform, Educational Leadership, 60(6), 40-45.

Duhigg, Charles. “What Google Learned from its Quest to Build the Perfect Team.” New York Times. February 25, 2016.

Destini, Martin and Michelle Pourchot, Rachel Blundell, and Kimberly Ross. “Trusting Collegial Relationships Build Strengths in Learning Systems.” (Learning Forward, February 24, 2017).

http://www.ascd.org/publications/educational-leadership/mar03/vol60/num06/Trust-in-Schools@-A-Core-Resource-for-School-Reform.aspx

Lencioni, Patrick. The Five Dysfunctions of a Team. Random House: New York. 2002.

Tschannen-Moran, Megan. Trust Matters: Leadership For Successful Schools. Jossey-Bass: San Francisco, California. 2nd edition. 2014.

Trust

noun
1.reliance on the integrity, strength, ability, surety, etc., of a person or thing; confidence.
2.confident expectation of something; hope.
3.confidence in the certainty of future payment for property or goods received; credit (Dictionary.com)
“Trusting Collegial Relationships Build Strengths in Learning Systems” by Destini Martin, Michelle Pourchot, Rachel Blundell, and Kimberly Ross (Learning Forward, February 24, 2017)

This article tells the successful story of principal collaboration, collegial trust, vulnerability and support in the Sante Fe (Texas) ISD. The authors begin their article with this powerful statement that echoed the closing statement of last week’s Sustaining the Journey. They write: “Educators believe that a strong student-teacher relationship can produce positive outcomes in student achievement. We witness this in our schools on a daily basis. Students who have typically displayed problematic behaviors with engagement in learning show success within objectives due to the emotional bond they share with their teacher. Educators also believe that collaborative teaching teams are more effective than those working in isolation.”

That statement echoes and reinforces Adaptive Schools Six Factors of the Professional Community: compelling purpose, shared standards, and academic focus; collective efficacy and shared responsibility for student learning; social capital emerging from teacher talk about learning; collaborative cultures communally applying effective teaching practices; and relational trust in one another, in students, and in parents. These elements improve school climate and maximize student performance.

The authors were particularly interested in the “impact of trusting collegial relationships among school principals and the effect on an entire school system.” The authors — four principals in the system who explored this concept — set out to join forces in a trust-based relationship to solve school-community issues. They suspected that collaboration would be more productive than working in isolation.

The principal-authors asked the question: “How do you build trust and vulnerability among principals?” One of the first answers was found in “leadership.” At the very top of their district leadership, the principals found support with their superintendent. The superintendent set the “standard for transparency and provided resources that allowed these relationships to build.” One is reminded of the Adaptive Schools Goal: to develop our collective identities and capacities as collaborators, inquirers, and leaders, in complex systems. Sante Fe ISD set out to create their own Principal PLC in order to “develop and facilitate efficacious, thoughtful collaborative groups” (Adaptive Schools purpose). They wrote about powerful protocols that they learned which supported their efforts. Again, one is reminded of the concepts, tools, and strategies of Adaptive Schools and their ability to nurture collaboration and trust through psychological safety. The Norms of Collaboration, in particular, give people common language and dispositional tools. The authors write, “The trust we had established allowed us to do this with ease because we had faith in each other and our cohesive group to build high-quality professional learning and systems.”

The authors also cited the importance of “deep reflective practices.” They talk about supporting each other to “articulate clear plans for growth.” One immediately thinks about the impact that Cognitive Coachingsm would have if individuals were trained in the planning, reflecting, problem re-solving, and calibrating maps, along with the coaching tools and capabilities. Also, systems would be enhanced with the concepts, norms, and strategies of Adaptive Schools because the work strives to support (systems) in developing and facilitating efficacious, thoughtful collaborative groups. Finally, the mission of Thinking Collaborative, Adaptive Schools and Cognitive Coaching, is to provide individuals and organizations with the strategies, skills and concepts to establish and sustain structures for thinking and collaborating that result in increased performance and resourcefulness.

Trust

Book

noun
1.reliance on the integrity, strength, ability, surety, etc., of a person or thing; confidence.
2.confident expectation of something; hope.
3.confidence in the certainty of future payment for property or goods received; credit (Dictionary.com)

Patrick Lencioni describes five team “dysfunctions” in what he calls a “leadership fable.” The elements of a dysfunctional team are:
1. Absence of trust
2. Fear of conflict
3. Lack of commitment
4. Avoidance of Accountability
5. Inattention to results
In the “Five Dysfunction of a Team Facilitator’s Guide,” Lencioni writes, “The first and most important dysfunction a team must learn to overcome is absence of trust. Trust is all about vulnerability. Team members who trust one another can be comfortable being open, even exposed, to one another around their failures, weaknesses, even fears.”
The author stresses that if team members are not “afraid to admit the truth about themselves (they) are not going to engage in the kind of political behavior that wastes everyone’s time and energy, and, more important makes the accomplishment of results an unlikely scenario.” Lencioni believes that team members must be comfortable being vulnerable and unafraid to be open and honest with one another. They must be willing to task risks and to make mistakes. They need to be comfortable saying to one another things like, “I need help,” or even “I was wrong.” Megan Tschannen-Moran, in Trust Matters, writes that when mistakes are made and trust is broken, individuals must follow the “Four A’s of Absolution. Individuals must be brave enough to “admit they are wrong,” “apologize,” “ask for forgiveness,” and “amend their ways.” Demonstrations of credibility, honesty, integrity, and vulnerability open the way to the dispositional Norms of Collaboration, “presuming positive intentions” and “paying attention to self and others.”
Lencioni states the negative effects of a team without trust. In an attempt to positively reframe those possible behaviors, his original list from the Facilitator’s Guide has been modified. When trust exists, team members will:
• Reveal their weaknesses and mistakes to one another
• Ask for help or provide constructive feedback
• Offer help to people outside of their own areas of responsibility
• Presume positive intentions and aptitudes of others
• Recognize and tap into one another’s skills and experiences
• Maximize time and energy managing their behaviors for effect
• Forgive and move forward
• Look for opportunities to be collegial and demonstrate personal regard for each other
All in all, Lencioni’s book further demonstrates the need for trust in adaptive, high functioning organizations and in schools where climate has a direct effect on student achievement.

Trust

noun
1.reliance on the integrity, strength, ability, surety, etc., of a person or thing; confidence.
2.confident expectation of something; hope.
3.confidence in the certainty of future payment for property or goods received; credit (Dictionary.com)

This month’s Sustaining the Journey will focus on Trust and its importance in organizations and in schools.

In Day One of Cognitive Coachingsm Foundation Seminar, three types of Trust are explored: organic, relational, and contractual. If organic trust is the “blind trust”, the unquestioning faith that one person puts into an organization or an individual, contractual trust is the articulated, explicitly stated, often legal document that one agent can put in place with another to insure that the provisions are carried out and the agreement is fulfilled. Mid-way between organic and contractual trust is relational trust, a far more tenuous belief in another that is based on consistency over time and validation of stated intentions. “It is founded on both beliefs and observed behavior and requires that expectations are validated through behavior.” In relational trust, judgments are drawn from behavior, how people feel, and beliefs about others’ intentions.

Additionally, Garmston and Wellman in Adaptive Schools, describe six factors that work together to provide a basis for shared responsibility for student success in Professional Communities. Those six factors are:
1. Compelling purpose, shared standards, and academic focus
2. Collective efficacy and shared responsibility for student learning
3. Social capital emerging from teacher talk about learning
4. Collaborative cultures communally applying effective teaching practices
5. Relational trust in one another, in students, and in parents
6. Individual and group learning based on ongoing assessment and feedback (Adaptive Schools, 3rd edition, Chapter 7, 2016)
It is that demonstration of benevolence, shared and diminishing vulnerability, integrity, ability/competence, positive presuppositions, honesty, and mutual respect that form the bedrock of enhanced student achievement and school climate.

The expectation that certain role identities validate their intentions through actions and social exchanges is important for a positive school climate. According to Bryk and Schnieder, Trust in Schools, (2003), those role relationships are:
a. school-professional to community member;
b. teacher to principal;
c. teacher to teacher;
d. and teacher to student.

With each of these role identities there are certain expectations and obligations. The school (principals and teachers) expect parents to get their children to school on time and to support the school’s Codes of Conduct and academic expectations as it functions in “loco parentis.” At the same time, parents expect that teachers will fairly treat their children and provide the best possible educational environment for them. According to Hoy, Tartar, and Woolfolk-Hoy in their white paper “Academic Optimism,” (2006), faculty trust in one another, in students, and in parents is a crucial affective component. The school personnel to parent trust relationship is a particularly important factor in socio-economically challenged settings. Parents must feel that the school staff trusts that the parents are doing the best job that they can. It may not be the same job the teacher or the principal may do, but it is the best job the parent can do given his/her set of circumstances. Power is a shared and mutually dependent commodity in a school community, and all parties remain vulnerable to each other. Decreasing this sense of vulnerability is a key ingredient in the development of relational trust. So, for support function relationships to succeed in a school, trust must be established through competence, integrity, respect, and confidentiality. And for a school to become a high-functioning “professional community learning,” relational trust must be fostered and developed along with collective efficacy and academic emphasis (Hoy, Tartar, and Woolfolk-Hoy, 2006). In the end, it “makes it more likely that people in schools will begin and continue the kinds of activities necessary to improve student achievement.”