Cognitive Coaching

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The Effects of Cognitive Coaching on Education and in Supporting Teacher Leadership “Creating a profession of teaching in which teachers have the opportunity for continual learning is the likeliest way to inspire greater achievement for children, especially those for whom education is the only pathway to survival and success” (Sumner, 2011, p. 10). Educators today are required to have a different set of skills to effectively prepare students to be global competitors in the workplace. Educators cannot make these alterations in teaching methodology and instructional delivery without support. Coaches support and encourage teachers, improve teacher strategies, promote teacher reflection, and focus on desired outcomes (Sumner, 2011). A key ingredient for improving student achievement is high quality leadership. Although leadership skills may come naturally for some, most educators need some form of practice and coaching to become high quality leaders (Patti & Holzer, 2012).

What is Cognitive Coaching?
Cognitive coaching is a relationship that is learner-centered, where the person being coached is an active participant in their learning process. The coach is responsible for creating an environment that is sensitive to the participant’s needs, providing ample opportunity for self-reflection which enables the participant to learn from their own unique experiences.

Garmston (1993) stated:
Cognitive Coaching is a process during which teachers explore the thinking behind their practices. Each person seems to maintain a cognitive map, only partially conscious. In Cognitive Coaching, questions asked by the coach reveal to the teacher areas of that map that may not be complete or consciously developed. When teachers talk out loud about their thinking, their decisions become clearer to them, and their awareness increases (p. 57). The relationship that evolves through cognitive coaching is based on a journey of self-discovery for both the coach and the coached individual. The coach is equally responsible for reflecting and learning from their own experiences in an effort to providing the best guidance to the coached individual throughout their coaching relationship. If mentors are to facilitate learning of their mentees, they can best begin by being in touch with the forces in their own lives (Zachary, 2000).

The learning that takes place in stages is the focal point of cognitive coaching. Cognitive coaching uses a three-phase cycle: pre-conference, observation, and post-conference. These cycles are used for the sole purpose of helping the teacher improve instructional effectiveness by becoming more reflective about teaching (Garmston, 1993). Cognitive Coaching asserts that instructional behavior is a reflection of beliefs; teachers must analyze and change their beliefs in order to change their behaviors. Coaches ask teachers to reflect on their beliefs about the classroom to facilitate making changes or improvements (Patti & Holzer, 2012). Cognitive Coaching in Education

The most valuable asset in the education profession is its human capital – teachers and administrators. Unfortunately, these professionals are typically given limited opportunities throughout their career to enhance their knowledge and skills enabling them to be more effective teachers and leaders. Newly hired recruits into the profession usually receive coaching for a few months during their first year of employment, but the majority will gain experience through their own trial and error.

According to Patti & Holzer (2012):
Professional development opportunities for teachers and administrators who function in a leadership capacity are often too scarce or narrow in focus to cultivate lasting and effective improvement. Most school systems regularly provide teacher educators with just two or three days per year of professional development, typically aimed at improving literacy and mathematics scores. Effective professional...
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