The Identity of a Cognitive Coach

License: CC0 Public Domain

License: CC0 Public Domain

This post is part of a larger series based on the book Coaching Approaches & Perspectives edited by Jim Knight. This post is based on sections of Chapter 4: Cognitive Coaching. Visit the Coaching category for other related posts.

People take different roles in their interactions with others. The authors present Costa and Garmston’s (2002) four metaphorical orientations which are parent, expert, friend and boss which a person may hold in contrast to Cognitive Coaching.

Cognitive Coaching mediates thinking from a neutral nonjudgmental perspective to empower teachers in the process of thinking as opposed to the content of thinking. Cognitive coaching see themselves as “mediators of thinking” (Knight, 2008, p. 87), and this belief influences their experiences, perceptions and interactions. It is in sharpest contrast to the orientation of expert. Experts value their personal knowledge and skills and tend to give advice and solve problems for others. The role of expert may be a useful support function, but it should be used carefully as it is one-directional, leading to dependence. Coaches sometimes need to take on other roles such a collaborator, consultant or evaluator, but by starting from the Cognitive Coaching stance, the coach is better able to consider the needs of the teacher in deciding what coaching role to play. For people who identify as Cognitive Coaches, they may practice other types of coaching, but default to Cognitive Coaching in each new situation.

This final section of Chapter 3 clarifies that Cognitive Coaching can be part of the toolbox of a coach, but the push for coaches to identify as cognitive coaches is strong.

This chapter has introduced the idea of Cognitive Coaching but I am unsure about how it applies in practice. I buy the argument that cognitive coaching is the surest way to professional growth, transformational learning and lasting change. In my work with teachers, I see that they (we) are passionate people who have strongly held believes about teaching and learning. My colleagues are thoughtful people who want the best for their students. I think that Cognitive Coaching recognizes this and uses it in the process of empowering teachers for professional growth.

The biggest contributor for me to discontent in any position is feeling undervalued. I want to be valued as a professional who has knowledge, skills, and experiences that will benefit my organization. I like to engage in the process of self-reflection (and peer feedback) to learn from my experiences and determine how I can improve my practice. I would benefit from Cognitive Coaching for my own professional growth and would like to try it in my work with teachers. Before I can do that, I need to learn more about the methodology.

Cognitive Coaching: Coaching Tools

This post is part of a larger series based on the book Coaching Approaches & Perspectives edited by Jim Knight. This post is based on sections of Chapter 4: Cognitive Coaching. Visit the Coaching category for other related posts.

It is very important for coaches to build rapport with people that they work with. This will help create the environment the partnership necessary for Cognitive Coaching. Rapport is important for coaches to be able to properly apply the response behaviors necessary for challenge and support which inspires transformational learning.

response behaviors in Cognitive Coaching

response behaviors in Cognitive Coaching

The four behaviours given here are useful in working with students, and as educators, we generally consider them useful for our students’ growth and development. It stands to reason that they are also important for when coaching teachers. These responses seem like a useful reminder to me of the types of conversations I should be having with colleagues in coaching. This lends itself to creating some templates to refer to/use when working with teachers.

Cognitive Coaching: Three Conversation Maps

This post is part of a larger series based on the book Coaching Approaches & Perspectives edited by Jim Knight. This post is based on sections of Chapter 4: Cognitive Coaching. Visit the Coaching category for other related posts.

There are three maps that coaches can use in Cognitive Coaching: The Planning Conversation Map, the Reflection Conversation Map, and the Problem-Resolving Map. I decided to try to visually represent my understanding of the three maps. I have very little experience with drawing and do it quite poorly, but I think I was able to represent the main ideas of the three maps. The authors stress that the stages of the map do not have to be followed in sequence, and that it may not be necessary to complete all the stages in a particular map. They also explain that it is possible to apply the maps in both formal and informal conversations; in informal conversations, the coach can also follow up on other necessary parts of the map at a future date. “The focus of coaching is on serving the needs of the person in the moment, not on completing the maps” (Jim Knight, 2008, p. 85)

* I think things got moved around in the Problem Resolving Map. The neutral face is supposed to indicate that the use of positive statements without judgement. Envision a good/healthy solution using inspiration from the states of mind to change a problem into an opportunity and then a resolution.

Book Citation: Knight, J. (Ed.). (2008). Coaching: Approaches and perspectives. Corwin Press.

Cognitive Coaching: Supporting Professional Growth

License: CC0 Public Domain

License: CC0 Public Domain

This post is part of a larger series based on the book Coaching Approaches & Perspectives edited by Jim Knight. This post is based on sections of Chapter 4: Cognitive Coaching. Visit the Coaching category for other related posts.

Cognitive coaching is a non-judgmental, constructivist approach to coaching. It aims to value the capacity of humans to use their mind in the process of development and growth. Cognitive Coaching assumes that humans have an intrinsic drive to learn and grow, and engages higher level thinking of participants to realize this drive. “[Cognitive Coaching] provides support for managing the tensions of autonomy and community” (Knight, 2008, p. 80).

As I read the description of a Cognitive Coach as a mediator who helps the coachee make sense of his experience to derive new learning (or meaning) that will be useful in navigating future experiences or meeting goals, the model got a bit clearer to me. This is phrased more elegantly as “the intention of the coach is to assist the learner in clarifying, developing, and modifying his or her internal schema (Costa & Garmston, 2002, as cited in Knight, 2008, p. 80).

The authors present theories by Robert Kegan that are related to Cognitive Coaching. These include three stages of adult development: socializing, self-authoring, and self-transformational. Adults at the socializing level assess their worth based on how others judge their value. Adults who are self-authoring hold personal values and use personal standards to judge their value. At the self-transforming stage, adults value challenges and tests as a way to grow and develop understanding. Most adults stay between the first two stages because they develop informational learning (knowledge and skills) rather than transformational learning (ways of knowing). Cognitive coaching can be used for transformational learning by providing the right balance of inquiry, challenge and support.

Cognitive Coaching is one of four support functions that we can see in education. Ellison and Hayes present Cognitive Coaching as the optimal support function because of its relationship to transformational learning. The other three support functions are evaluation (external evaluation), collaboration (collective evaluation) and consultation (goal setting by external evaluator).

I’ve read other research in education that speaks of the importance of teacher beliefs in the success of professional development. It seems to me that a non-judgmental, open environment for reflecting on experience through the lens of refining/reconstructing thinking, and challenging values, and identifying mental models and beliefs would open the way for changing practice. I think it would benefit me to see this approach in practice. I’m wondering how Cognitive Coaching addresses the necessary informational learning for implementing change, along with the transformational learning that will drive the change.

 

Book Citation: Knight, J. (Ed.). (2008). Coaching: Approaches and perspectives. Corwin Press.

Cognitive Coaching: The Five States of Mind

This post is part of a larger series based on the book Coaching Approaches & Perspectives edited by Jim Knight. This post is based on sections of Chapter 4: Cognitive Coaching. Visit the Coaching category for other related posts.

The Five States of Mind in Cognitive Coaching are efficacy, consciousness, craftsmanship, flexibility and interdependence.

Efficacy within a school leads to a positive environment where teachers believe that their actions will have positive results on student learning. Teacher efficacy leads to a general attitude of openness and and enthusiasm which leads to success, thereby feeding higher efficacy.

Consciousness is the State of Mind that allows attention to both internal processes, external cues, and past experiences to understand an experience. A conscious person asks internal questions to determine perceptions, biases and thinking processes, while monitoring the situation as it unfolds.

Craftsmanship is intrinsic motivation to strive for excellence. Teachers with craftsmanship aims for excellent for both themselves and their students. They use self-assessment to determine next steps for continued growth and development for continued excellence.

Flexibility is the State of Mind that opens us up to other possibilities and perspectives besides our own. It allows us to move pass our egocentricity to surprise and greater understanding. It is necessarily for interdependence and creativity, because multiple points of view build understanding and new solutions/possibilities.

Humans can be egocentric (self-centred), allocentric (other-centered) or macrocentric (system-centered). Interdependence is the state of mind that allows us to see past the egocentric self to the other two types of selves. Mutuality and reciprocity are important concepts in interdependence so that each person sees her contribution and her benefits from the system, with an understanding of the value of both.

I appreciate that the five states of minds are significant in determining the experience of a person and his perception. I’m not sure how they will be applied in Cognitive Coaching. Does the coach explicitly go through the states of mind with the coachee, or implicitly use the states of mind in coaching? I’m confused as to how this would work, and look forward to finding out more as I continue the chapter.

I’m also curious about the phrase States of Mind, especially given the capitalization in the book. I’m familiar with Habits of Mind for IBDP and am wondering if the two terms are equivalent.

 

Book Citation: Knight, J. (Ed.). (2008). Coaching: Approaches and perspectives. Corwin Press.