Thursday, October 2, 2008

Cognitive Coaching: Take 1

I'm wondering, how many of my coaching colleagues have ever been taught how to coach? Not why, when, or where, but HOW. Raise your hands. Raise em' high. Those of you proudly raising your hands, you know what I'm about to say, put your hands down and stop gloating, you know it, you're the lucky ones. The ones I and many of my colleagues are jealous of, because you hold the knowledge and expertise that many of us so desperately want.

This marks year 7 of my coaching adventure. You did notice the word--adventure, didn't you? Adventures, by definition, are dangerous undertakings, risky attempts, and gambles. One takes a chance, tries something new, seeks to go into uncharted territory. Most coaches dive in with little training and modest expert coaching support. What generally emerges is the equivalent of street smarts because it is sink or swim time.

Before today, I could not raise my hand. I think, by and large, I was swimming rather than sinking, but today, I learned exactly what I do well, and what I desperately need to change. Today, through a Cognitive Coaching Training Seminar (1 of 8 in all) at the Schultz Center, I discovered that I usually consult or collaborate, but rarely do I use Cognitive Coaching, a pattern that I will reverse.

Cognitive Coaching is about providing the support and assistance for a teacher to become a self-directed thinker both independently and as a member of the school community to improve student learning. The intention is to increase the effectiveness of a teacher's decision making process to allow them to be self-monitoring and self-modifying. It is not about rendering advice, constant modeling, or solving their problems. Cognitive Coaches do not rob teachers of the opportunity to solve their own problems. They probe to bring about self-assessment.

How to Cognitively Coach is the mission of our seminar. On Day 1, we...
  • studied the word, Holonomy, or the act of simultaneously being equally good by yourself and as a part of your learning community.

  • learned about the five States of Mind including efficacy, flexibility, interdependence, consciousness, and craftsmanship.
  • discussed the goal and went over four orientations as a coach: parent, expert, friend, and boss.
  • role played, practiced, synthesized, and discussed.

  • explored trust. The three types Organic, Contractual, and Relational. We learned about the common facets of trust and exactly how to repair broken trust.

  • discussed rapport. The Elements of Rapport: posture, gesture, tonality, language, and breathing.

  • watched a video to understand, on a cellular level, what happens with mirrored neurons that makes us social beings and how that effects rapport.

  • went into the four support functions of coaching. Cognitive Coaching, Collaborative Coaching, Consulting, and Evaluating. We explored the intention and purpose of each system, as well as what the conversations focus on when we are acting in this role.

  • participated in a structured coaching interchange as partners.

  • were assigned homework! (I feel like one of the kids! Homework = Yuck!)

Today, for the first time, I feel like I am mapping a more intentional path for how to coach. I'm not saying it won't still be an adventure with some uncharted territory, but I am implying that I will have more tools and self-awareness. I will become more of a Cognitive Coach and less of a Collaborator and Consultant. After today, I must say that I would recommend this training for any coach or principal.


Melissa Ross said...

Thanks for the info - I can't wait to talk with you about this a little more.

Mrs. Nash said...

I am SO jealous right now! Though I am not a coach, I truly believe that learning to teach/lead/coach, makes you a better person, better communicator, and better...well, better. It is one of the most challenging things to do for everyone, I believe - lead. I have had some training in coaching. Ironically, it came as a part of some sales training I had! My training, though, was really more communication skills for debriefing with teachers after observations than anything else. It has been useful, and helped me a lot in a variety of areas throughout the years, but doesn't sound like the higher level of thinking involved in your training today. I hope you will be able to share some of your learning with even us "non-coaches". :) I'm sure it could help us all!

Ashley Russell said...

As I am reading your post, I am thinking to myself "How in the world can Suzanne possibly become a better coach?" This question comes to mind with the highest regard possible of the services you already provide for all of us at CCE. You are amazing! You are one of the best listeners I have ever met. You are realistic and supportive, yet firm and serious about our mission. I am interested to see how you can make improvements on all of that!
Thanks for all you do,
Ashley Russell

Suzanne said...

Ashley--Thank you for the support. I appreciate your kind words. I'll come back in a couple weeks and ask you if you've noticed any changes in my style. I'll be interested to know if my self-realization will change how I coach suddely or dramatically.

Jenny-- You should be jealous. :) This is the deepest training I've had and I am soaking it in for both myself and for taking it back for others. I took 11 pages of typed notes today! And, there is not one of us in the building that is a "non-coach." You could use this learning with peers and with your own students. And, you will see the modeling of the protocals in upcoming Early Releases, I hope.

Melissa-- You know it! Added it to our Google Agenda already!

dayle timmons said...

I think we are all rather critical and sometimes cynical of the county training that we receive so the fact that you are so excited, says a lot! I can't think of anything I'd rather know more about that how to better coach the teachers that I interact with. I hope that what you've learned will become a focus of some of our training. Can't wait!

Melanie Holtsman said...

So many times we attend a training session and leave wishing we could have that time back to do more valuable's nice to know there is some quality training being provided. I can't wait to hear more about what you learned so you can help us all learn to coach better!

Susan T. Phillips said...

I can't want to find out all you learned. Sounds so interesting and something I could definitely benefit from knowing. Can't wait for you to coach me on it!

Cindy Duffy said...

Cognitive Coaching was one of the best professional development activities I have every participated in. It is nice to find others with the same thoughts. As with many habits it is hard to adopts those related to Cognitive Coaching but I think worth the effort.