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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

The Four Support Functions: Collaborating

Authored By:

Thinking Collaborative


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?

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