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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

Using Voice to Invite Thinking

Authored By:

Thinking Collaborative


October 05, 2015

The first three Norms of Collaboration in Adaptive Schools are parallel to three critical tools of a Cognitive Coach – pausing, paraphrasing, and posing questions. During September, we revisited some thinking about pausing and paraphrasing. This month we will consider the skill of posing questions for inquiry and mediating thinking.

To a great extent, he delivery of a question determines how it is received. In our work, we strive to make questions invitational. In doing so, we open the neural pathways to thinking by creating a safe and open environment. When we fail to use invitational voice and language patterns, we signal threat and our brains revert to the protective mechanisms in our brain stems rather than accessing higher cognitive processes in the neocortex.

Voice is a critical component in the delivery of a question because the brain receives sound a millisecond before it makes meaning of the words. Therefore, if the voice is threatening, the meaning of the words may be lost. Generally, questions for inquiry are delivered with an approachable voice. The approachable voice is more rhythmic and goes up in pitch at the end. Physically the head bobs more and the chin is often up at the end of speaking.

As you coach and inquire this week, pay close attention to your voice. Is it inviting and approachable. How can you become more intentional in making this critical choice as you speak?

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