Let’s think for a moment about our coaching language. What are the phrases you find yourself using the most as part of your coaching cycles? Maybe you use some of these:
  • How can I help?
  • What can I do for you today?
  • What can we work on together?
Paying careful attention to our coaching language is EVERYTHING. We want our coaching to be positive, non-evaluation and hopefully, leaves the teacher feeling even more capable than they were before our chat.

So, what do you do in this scenario?

Let’s say you are walking down the hall and a teacher stops you to ask a question as she holds out a piece of paper: Is this good?

Now, that paper might be a worksheet, a writing prompt, a lesson plan, graphic organizer, etc. The challenge isn’t what is on the paper, but the response that we give as coaches.

Since coaching is non-evaluative, answering that question instantly places an evaluation on the teacher and the work that went into what she is holding. It also removes any opportunity for the teacher to reflect.

On top of that, if our impression of what she is holding is not what we would have done or recommended to continue our work together, then we are in the tricky position of responding in the moment.

So, what do we do?

Enter a new coaching phrase: What are you trying to accomplish?

I use this phrase often in my work to help me learn more about the teachers I am working with and quite frankly, to buy additional time to decide how to respond to teachers in the moment.

By turning the question into an opportunity for self-reflection, I honor and value teachers’ own thinking, shift the conversation from one of evaluation to one of collaboration and can better understand and respond accordingly.
  • Here are some of my other staple coaching phrases to learn more and generate discussion:
  • What have you been trying in the classroom?
  • Tell me more about how things are going.
  • How have the students been responding?
  • How do you feel about the changes you made?
  • What is getting in the way of what you want to accomplish?
  • How can I advocate for what you need?
These are just a few of my favorites, but there are many more that might better suit your context for coaching and your unique personality. Here are a few resources you must bookmark now:
I would love to know more about the phrases you use to support your coaching and empower teachers to reflect on their own learning along with their students. Let's start a conversation!
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