When you are listening very deeply to another person, your own thoughts and concerns quiet down. By creating a clear, safe, non-judgmental field, there is plenty of space for candidates to wander around their own minds, exploring their beliefs, their blocks, their goals, and how to fulfill them. Listening to our candidate builds trust and ensures that we are hearing and understanding what our candidate is saying (and not saying), and helps us identify the questions we might ask to provoke deeper reflection Listening also involves being aware of our candidate’s assumptions, interpretations, underlying beliefs, and patterns of thinking. Active listening involves paraphrasing, eye contact, as well as being mindful of how our words and body language communicate our full presence.
Planning the coaching conversation is akin to planning an engaging lesson for students. Effective coaches use a variety of questioning strategies that offer support while also pushing the candidate to the next level of teaching practice. Most people have the answers to their own questions and as a coach, our role is to help them discover those answers by asking the right questions. The needs of the candidate will determine which coaching stance (calibrating, consulting, collaborating, or coaching) and aligned questions would be most appropriate. Being purposeful in the asking of questions provides an opportunity for meaningful and productive conversations with your candidate(s).
Starting with the purpose of providing the feedback and assessing the readiness of our candidate to hear and process the feedback is key. Coaches provide timely and targeted feedback to support the candidate’s growth and self-efficacy. Some people respond well to direct feedback and appreciate it; others may feel defensive and may shut down. Asking for permission to provide feedback increases the likelihood the feedback will be well received. Using facts, just what was observed, and then what that resulted in is objective and keeps our opinion out of the conversation. Addressing only the concerns that the candidate has requested feedback on will also provide them the opportunity to focus on one or two areas to improve. After providing feedback, a coach should also provide an opportunity for the candidate to respond, ask clarifying questions and self-reflect before determining their next steps. Delivering targeted feedback that supports our candidates in reaching their goals is an art and is developed over years of practice.
Reflective Coach Tools
Coaching with INTENT
Spotlighting Focused Cycles of Inquiry
CTI offers over 50 focused cycles of inquiry that can be found in CTI Navigate.
Below are some inquiries that your candidate might want to explore further.