Using questioning to coach teachers
Great coaches know that asking the right questions makes all the difference in supporting educators.
Great coaches know that asking the right questions makes all the difference when it comes to figuring out the best way to support teachers. When a coach understands what a teacher is actually thinking or feeling—not what they might assume he or she is thinking or feeling—they can make informed decisions about how to support their growth. The right questions help those on the receiving end, too: They push teachers to articulate their thinking, increase their self-awareness, and uncover new possibilities for their learning and development.
Read this article by Amy Jen Su to learn more about how open-ended questions are "the difference between a one-way interrogation and a dynamic learning session." In addition to open-ended questions, probing questions like, "What would you like to see happen in your classroom?" and "What would have to change in order for you to be able to do X?" empower teachers to generate their own solutions for the challenges they face. These questions allow the coach and coachee to align on a shared vision of success (and the support that success will require from the leader) so they can create a clear plan with incremental "bites" along the way that everyone is happy with.
We created this guide for principals and instructional coaches to use as a tool to structure conversations with probing and reflective questions. Following this flow of questioning will help you align with teachers on the specific challenge(s) you're setting out to solve and pave a thoughtful path to ongoing support and development.