Teacher Inquiry

Coaching and the Invitational Summer Institute

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Author: Susan Bennett

Summary: This is a succinct overview on the role of coaching in the Summer Institute at the Redwood Writing Project. The document describes the relationship between the coach and the person being coached, carefully laying the groundwork for a supportive and collaborative, non-evaluative relationship. While the piece is based on coaching in the Summer Institute, the description of roles and the set of guide questions could be useful to anyone entering a coaching and/or mentoring relationship.

Original Date of Publication: November 2000


*Presented at the 2000 NWP Annual Meeting, Milwaukee, Wisconsin

To the Coached:

The relationship between you and your coach is one of support and consultation, not evaluation and critique. Your workshop is like the draft of a manuscript-up for revision and fine-tuning; your job is not to defend your workshop, but to think about how to best reach your audience. This is your workshop and final decisions rest on your intentions and experience; your coach is an experienced respondent, but not responsible for your feelings of success or failure. Your workshop should be viewed, even after its presentation, as a “work in progress.”

To the Coach:

The relationship between you and your coach is one of support and consultation, not evaluation and critique. Rather than provide suggestions, ask probing questions. The final decisions rest on the presenter, not you; you are not responsible for the success or weaknesses of the workshop.

Questions for the Coach to Ask

  1. What do you want the audience to know about your best practice?
  2. How does your demonstration showcase your best practice rather than your best lesson?
  3. What do you want your audience to take away from your demonstration that can improve their practice?
  4. How much of your demonstration actively involves the participants?
  5. Have you acknowledged the experience and knowledge your audience brings to your presentation?
  6. What would happen if:
    a) You rearranged the order of your workshop?
    b) You left out parts and emphasized a narrower focus?
    c) You relied more on participant involvement?
  7. How else might you accomplish your goals?
  8. What is the most important information you want to impart?
  9. How long do you think this will last?
  10. What time constraints have you acknowledged?
  11. What strategies do you plan to use to rehearse and check you timing?
  12. Etc.

Reminders To the Coached:

  • The relationship between you and your coach is one of support and consultation, not evaluation and critique.
  • Your workshop is like the draft of a manuscript-up for revision and fine-tuning; your job is not to defend your workshop, but to think about how to best reach your audience.
  • This is your workshop and final decisions rest on your intentions and experience; your coach is an experienced respondent, but not responsible for your feelings of success or failure.
  • Your workshop should be viewed, even after its presentation, as a “work in progress.”

Reminders to the Coach:

  • The relationship between you and your ‘coachee’ is one of support and consultation, not evaluation and critique.
  • Rather than provide suggestions, ask probing questions.
  • The final decisions rest on the presenter, not you; you are not responsible for the success or weaknesses of the workshop.

Questions for the Coach to Ask the Coached

  1. What do you want the audience to know about your best practice?
  2. How does your demonstration showcase your best practice rather than your best lesson?
  3. What do you want your audience to take away from your demonstration that can improve their practice?
  4. How much of your demonstration actively involves the participants?
  5. Have you acknowledged the experience and knowledge your audience brings to your presentation?
  6. What would happen if:
    a) You rearranged the order of your workshop?
    b) You left out parts and emphasized a narrower focus?
    c) You relied more on participant involvement?
  7. How else might you accomplish your goals?
  8. What is the most important information you want to impart?
  9. How long do you think this will last?
  10. What time constraints have you acknowledged?
  11. What strategies do you plan to use to rehearse and check you timing?
  12. Etc.

Related Resources

Original Source: National Writing Project, https://www.nwp.org/cs/public/print/resource/354

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