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1 Beacon Street
Boston, MA, 02108
United States


ANet is a nonprofit dedicated to the premise that every child in America deserves an excellent education and the opportunities it provides. We pursue our vision of educational equality in America by helping schools boost student learning with great teaching that is grounded in standards, informed by data, and built on the successful practices of educators around the country.

Using questioning to coach teachers

Great coaches know that asking the right questions makes all the difference in supporting educators.

Using questioning to coach teachers

Anchoring in authentic curiosity 

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.

"The Questions Good Coaches Ask"

"The Questions Good Coaches Ask"

“It's been proven time and time again that the most powerful reflective tools for busy, often over-worked educators are time, silence, and the right question to point them in the right direction. Prompting teachers and leaders with a few critical questions and the space to solve their most pressing problems allows them to arrive at conclusions on their own—causing the solution(s) to stick far better and longer than if I had made a recommendation—and builds their capacity to be problem solvers in their buildings.”

—Zachary Parker, ANet coach

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.