Literacy Coaches October 2017
Coaching as Questioning
“Judge not a person by their answers, but by their questions”
Last month, we wrote about our insights after posing the question, “What is a literacy coach?” to a few of our colleagues. Most notably, we found that teachers’ understanding of the role of a literacy coach varied greatly. Further, we were concerned with responses that indicated viewing the role of a coach as judgmental, rather than supportive. In light of this, this fall we plan to further explore some of our goals as coaches to clarify the coach’s role in the classroom. This month, we are thinking specifically about questioning.
One of our goals as literacy coaches is to strengthen the professional environment in a school to support optimal adult learning. Coaching in this environment becomes a shared endeavor that focuses on instructional practices that improve student learning. We agree with Toll (2017) that to be successful, we must take a problem-solving approach in our work with teachers to move beyond trial and error to a more systematic analysis of problems-of-practice that get in the way of students’ learning and academic growth. Within this coaching paradigm lies an essential understanding that we don’t need to have all the answers, but instead, we need to ask the right questions.
By and large, adult learners are self-regulated and self-directed (Knowles, 1980). When teachers work in a professional environment that fosters learning and favors reflection, they are granted the “space” to admit their problems, to analyze their instruction, and to adjust their practice. One of our goals as coaches is to facilitate this process by engaging teachers in a careful, judgment-free examination of teaching and learning. Continue reading