in Coaching, Education, Professional Development, Reflection, techintegration

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.