When the Conversation Ends, the Thinking Begins

Day 26

download (2)Yesterday I had the opportunity to join my colleagues in a Cognitive Coaching session, effectively facilitated by Penny Ballagh and Denise Overall. I will admit that I arrived at the session rather skeptical about the potential impact that it would have, as I’ve been quite heavily involved in various facilitation opportunities aimed at supporting colleagues with their “Problem of Practice”. The first sentence in my journal was, “I’m craving something to push my thinking”. It became evident, quite early on, that these educators  were about to engage me and indeed push my thinking for the rest of the day.  As I look back through my journal, my notes are filled with the names of “must read” books, highlighted in yellow, boxed in phrases which I will undoubtedly be including in future posts or professional exchanges with others and various arrows and other markings used to note strong connections to past, present or future work with our Languages team and Instructional Coaches.

Some of the most noteworthy phrases included:

When coaching you are “tapping into someone’s cognitive universe”

As a cognitive coach, you are ” a mediator of thinking and your role is to send them out smarter than when they walked in”

The heart of coaching is to “light up what they can’t see on their own in order to see the dark corners”

“If we are too busy to reflect, we are too busy to grow”

and my favourite….. WAIT and SEE = Why Am I Talking and Stop Explaining Everything!


The added bonus to this session also included well situated facilitation activities such as the “Assumption Card Stack and Shuffle”, “Appointment clock” “Discuss and Teach”, “Gum and Chew” and “Community Circle”.  With each passing activity, a greater sense of safety and trust was created with the group and hence the dialogue was richer. I can’t wait to share some of these with the Languages team.

When it came time to practice our coaching skills, I was thrilled that my partner was truly thankful for my attentive listening, followed by some well placed questions which will hopefully assist her as she embarks on a portfolio changing proposal.  She has asked that I check-in and see how her new venture is going ~ something that I will definitely do!

Although the formal conversations ended at 4 pm, the thinking continued on into the night, with a reflective email exchange with our Director and some sharing about the day via Twitter direct message with a colleague.

Yesterday was one of those unexpected learning treats!  I started the day craving a professional challenge and ended the day with my appetite more than satisfied!

When was the last time you were pleasantly surprised at a professional learning session?

Come write with me….