saving our schools

I wrote this post months ago and am just now digging it out of the drafts folder…

Being a teacher today is a challenge. The diversity within each class of students is broad, the ideas of what are ‘best practices’ are seemingly limitless, and the demands of high stakes testing adds a level of pressure few are prepared to face.

Teachers are frustrated and there’s no chance they can do their best work when they feel like they’ve lost ownership of what happens each day when they step into a classroom.

But, I think I’ve been given the opportunity to see the solution.

Last summer, I completed Days 1-4 of Cognitive Coaching with Doreen Miori-Merola of Thinking Collaborative.

This methodology is designed to help teachers construct their own thoughts, reflections and planning through guided conversations with a coach.

The conversations are structured to help build reflective thinking and use that knowledge to become more effective and thoughtful in planning.

conversations. more listening. less talking.

It gives ownership of the classroom back to the teacher. When the teacher feels successful, they can attribute it to the work they have done. When the teacher identifies student growth, it can be their success. The teacher make the decisions, determined the best way to proceed and the results belong to them.

The coach is simply the guide or facilitator along the way.

The coach doesn’t provide the answers.

This concept runs in the same theory as the parable, “Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day; teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.”

The coach can be flexible in his role and switch between collaborator, consultant and evaluator as it is needed by the teacher.

During the workshop, we practiced these conversations using the maps and tried to develop our skills at both questioning and paraphrasing throughout.

I feel like I have barely dipped my toe in the water here, but I found the four days in Genoa to be eye-opening.

I consider myself to be a pretty reflective person and I am constantly seeking ways to improve my teaching and coaching.

seeking growth and wisdom.

I’ve been trying to find a more tangible way to move our teachers from the small pieces of innovation they are bringing to their classrooms to a much larger scale version of transformation and innovation in their every day approach.

I think Cognitive Coaching is the key.

And, I’m horrified to think that this program has been around for decades and we’re still fighting against standardized tests, constantly changing curriculum, fear of change and bureaucratic BS that always gets in the way.

If every teacher received the mentoring and feedback possible through coaching, I’m convinced our classrooms would be on the path to redefinition.

And that would result in more achievement from our students.

Isn’t that the whole point?

Have you had Cognitive Coaching training? How do you use it in your school and/or job?


Conversation pic from: flickr photo by ftbester shared under a Creative Commons (BY-ND) license

Flower pic from:  flickr photo by daiyaan.db shared under a Creative Commons (BY) license

One thought on “saving our schools

  1. Shiori Kubo

    The coach is simply the guide or facilitator along the way.
    The coach doesn’t provide the answers.

    These words kept me sticking into my heart and made me think about what my role is. This is not only for education but applies to any human relationship. I am very interested in this Cognitive Coaching training:) Thank you for sharing.



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