Coaching ~ Reflecting, Revising and Celebrating Together

Project Coaching ~ TL + Classroom Teachers

1. Before - Preparing the Journey

  • Designing the Performance Task - Are all the elements fired up?
  • Understanding by Design a la Wiggins - WHAT? HOW will they demonstrate IT? How will IT be assessed?
  • HEAT-ing UP the Lesson Task - Keep eye on having a reasoning question AND what TYPE of communication?
  • Determining ROLE(s) for students to increase their agency?
  • Determining role(s) for technology tools for thinking and communicating?
  • What is the public publishing plan?

2. During - Traveling

  • What excites you?
  • What worries you?
  • What do you need to know / understand?
  • What would help you to have a best experience? How can I help?
  • How's it going?

3. After - Unpacking the Journey

  • What worked?
  • Would have like to work better?
  • What surprises?
  • What advice for NEXT time?

Coaching Conferences

Conferencing that uses a critical friend attitude is not about judging, lecturing or listing things that are wrong. It is essential to hold that ALL the decisions that create the final work belong solely to the author. NO HOSTILE TAKEOVERS, PLEASE! The approach most useful as a critical friend (a role teachers who think of themselves as mentors can easily take) is listening, accepting, and appreciating what is good (what’s working) and then stimulating through the art of questions the author’s own thinking about what needs re-working.

A sense of humor and playful experimentation (what if) sets the tone. Conferences nurture growth in skills while allowing authors to retain ownership of their work. It is said that an effective conference leaves the author with the desire and inspiration to continue passionately working on their piece until it is “Perfecto Mundo!”

Preparation for Conference

• Determine time alloted for meeting and honor timeframes.
• Have HEAT Spectrum, Question Spectrum and HEAT Organizer are at hand along with Curriculum Outcomes
• Remember to "talk to the papers" (ghost talk) NOT the teacher/student. It keeps the conversations on topic and feeling less personal.
Hold positive intention. Everyone is doing the best they can - and honoring you with their trust in bringing their work.
• Accept and guide the work and skills for where they are - knowing that it is not where they started but that their skills and work move forward.


• How is it going? Be very welcoming and interested!
• Check that the curriculum goals are identified
• What is working for you? What are you feeling good about so far?
• What would you like to work better?
• How would you rank XXX element? - check the Heat or Question Spectrum
• What is giving you a hard time?
• What can I help you with?
• What were you trying to make happen here?


• Handle one concept at a time.
• Be sure a reasoning/thinking question is in place before addressing/detailing the other areas. Determine TYPE of Communication and Scenarios next . . . .
• Ask clarifying / probing questions. Questions force the teacher/student to think and rethink how well they are meeting their purpose,
intentions, audience and meaning as they develop their concepts/tasks.
• The teacher/student voice should represent most of the talking time during the conference. This makes the conference about them - generating ideas, considering or responding.
• Use Wait Time! Use the 30-second rule of waiting for the teacher/student response.
• The best way to encourage an author to participate in the reflections is for critical friends to quit talking and wait/urge THEM to evaluate or reflect on their work FIRST!

Trust and believe that they have the answers IF asked the right question. Don't collude with the dark thought that they are helpless. One very useful language pattern when author’s are feeling blank or reply that they don’t know: “I know you don’t know but IF you DID. . . what would it be?” It allows the critical part of them that judges their own thinking to step aside and let their fearless creative part speak out.

If the teacher/student requests or seems open to generating ideas, try to create more than one choice as a way of warming up the topic rather than deciding on one thing. Use the phrase “OR NOT” at the end of any suggested ideas so the author is encouraged to make their own choice. “You might consider this idea . . . or not.”

• If you want to tuck in an idea - or take a risk to offer something to the teacher/student that was not directly requested - ask "Would you be willing to consider?" Sometimes if there is resistance for whatever reason, asking "What stops you from XXX?" may reveal what needs to be in place for the teacher/student to be able to commit or embrace an idea. Then check "So if XXXX is in place, would you be willing?"


“What are 1-2 ideas most useful?”
“What do you plan to do next with your story?”

Make an effort to say good-bye or part with the teacher/student with an upbeat encouraging tone!
• “Can’t wait to hear your next version!"
• "I'm excited to see this happen for kids . . ."