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Desert Highway
Thoughtful writing authored and shared by members of of the Thinking Collaborative community to support others on the journey.

Sustaining the Journey

Posing Mediative Questions—Open-Ended

Authored By:

Thinking Collaborative


July 30, 2018

“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.

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