Friday, June 20, 2014

Five States of Mind

One concept that underlay much of what we did during the first 3 days of the Cognitive Coaching course with Bill and Ochan Powell was the five states of mind.  We found ourselves coming back to these over and over again and found that we needed to be very conscious of all of these in our coachees, when we are taking on a coaching role.  As they are so important, I decided to devote a whole blog post to exploring these further.

Consciousness:  this is a sensitivity to what is going on both internally and externally.  It involves knowing what you are thinking and how you are thinking as well as being aware of your actions and their effects.  One way to increase consciousness is to seek out data.  Teachers who exercise consciousness are aware of their own values, which form the criteria for decisions they make.  They are aware of the events that are occurring and feel comfortable and confident to direct their course.

Craftsmanship:  this involves setting goals because we want to achieve.  People who are developing their craftsmanship are ongoing learners who are willing to work towards excellence.  I see a lot of teachers who are strong in this state of mind - they are learners who are constantly honing their craft and generally have high self-esteem which results from positive feedback.  Teachers often have clear visions and goals and make considered decisions about the actions they will take.  As a coach, when we want to coach for craftsmanship we often just need to ask these teachers how they are going to do something to help them clarify their thoughts.

Efficacy:  this is the ability to embrace problems as opportunities, knowing that you have the capacity to make a difference through your work.  Another way to put this is that you have internal resourcefulness and so can make choices, solve problems and take action.  We want to coach for efficacy as this is a catalytic state of mind in helping to resolve complex problems:  we want teachers to know that change can happen, that they can be optimistic about the outcomes and that they can be adaptable to change and take action.

Flexibility:  being able to see or generate alternatives for your own work and being willing to empathize with others' perspectives.  As a result of this, flexible teachers are willing to change their mind as they receive additional "big picture" data and are able to adjust to others' styles and preferences.  Being flexible involves considering cause and effect while at the same time being comfortable with ambiguity.  Flexible teachers are able to work within the rules, but are also able to find ways to use the rules to help rather than hinder their work.  

Interdependence:  the ability to give and receive support relies on the knowledge that we will benefit from participating in and contributing to professional relationships. It involves considering the common good through collegiality and collaboration.  Teachers who are high in interdependence are able to balance their own needs with the group needs.  Interdependent teachers are altruistic who value consensus, however they also regard conflict as valuable as they trust their own abilities to manage group differences in productive ways.  Interdependence is essential as schools and learning become more collaborative, and interdependent thinkers know they have the potential to significantly influence their school community.

All of these 5 states of mind are temporary states so any that are low can be changed.  This is the goal of cognitive coaching:  to listen for these states of mind, to find the one or two that are low, and to coach towards helping the coachee to develop them.  It is to be a mediator of thinking.  In the case of the 5 states of mind this is what the coach hopes to enable:

Consciousness:  a movement from a lack of awareness towards an awareness of self and others
Craftsmanship:  a movement from vagueness and imprecision towards specificity ad elegance
Efficacy:  a movement away from an external locus of control and towards an internal locus of control
Flexibility:  a movement away from narrow egocentric views towards broader and alternative perspectives
Interdependence:  a movement away from isolation and separateness towards connection to and concern for the community

Photo Credit: atelier renskeherder via Compfight cc

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