Sunday, July 12, 2015

Coaching teachers using the 6 domains of inquiry

What do teachers talk about in coaching conversations?  Often it can be divided into 6 main areas, and a coach can support teachers to plan and reflect by asking questions around these 6 domains of inquiry.  These questions are aimed at exploring teaching and learning, rather than a teacher's internal resourcefulness, and I find them really useful to have in the back of my mind when coaching.
  1. Content knowledge - the key concepts and skills that are required to learn the academic discipline.  Teachers who have a deep knowledge of content are more effective at diagnosing and anticipating student misunderstandings.  An examples of content knowledge questions include: "What might students need to know to understand the main idea?"
  2. Pedagogy - the art and science of teaching.  Teaches make decisions about instruction by drawing from a wide and varied repertoire, based on formative and summative assessment.  An examples of pedagogical questions include: "What might be some strategies you could use in keeping all the students engaged?"
  3. Knowledge of students and how they learn - teachers understand the needs of students at various ages and their individual needs as learners, including their strengths and weaknesses.  An example of this type of question would be: "How did your understanding of your students' cultures influence your decision?"
  4. Self-knowledge - this involves a teacher looking inward to examine his or her strengths and weaknesses, values and beliefs, for example their standards of excellence or their own learning style.  It's interesting that teachers need to overcome the tendency to teach in the same way as they learn.  A self-knowledge question might be: "What might be some of the ways in which this lesson stretched your style?"
  5. Knowledge of the cognitive processes of instruction - these are the internal thought processes of a teacher and affect areas such as planning, monitoring student engagement, using data in decision-making and so on.  A question in this area might be: "As you were planning the lesson, what were some of the criteria you used to access higher order thinking?"
  6. Knowledge of collegial interaction - teachers who collaborate in communities of practice, both online and in their schools, grow as professionals and get better results for more students.  A question that may prompt thought about the effects of teacher collaboration might be: "What are some of the ways your interactions with your colleagues assisted you with this lesson?"
Questions such as these, that promote thought and reflection, can have a huge impact on student learning, as teachers become more intentional and self-directed in improving their craft.

Photo Credit: milos milosevic via Compfight cc

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