Put me in, coach: Coaching the digital educator (part 2)


Originally developed by Art Costa and Bob Garmston, the objective of Cognitive Coaching is to empower the individual to form and reform the way they approach and solve problems. The theory is that once mental capacity is enriched, the individual is also enriched.

ISTE states that Cognitive Coaching is based on four propositions

  • Thought and perception produce all behavior.
  • Teaching is a constant decision-making process.
  • Learning something new requires engagement and alteration in thought.
  • Humans continue to grow cognitively.

The idea here is that self-directed individuals with strong cognitive capacity can be both independent as well as active members of a community. Because teaching involves complex intellectual activity, educators who “think at higher levels produce students who are higher achieving, more cooperative, and better problem solvers.” It’s ultimately a win-win for the educator and the learner.

In addition, the crux of Cognitive Coaching is to develop trust, establish rapport, and facilitate a sense of autonomy combined with a sense of community. This communal cocoon provides the educator a protected space to express ideas, brainstorm concepts, and resolve problems. In others words, failure is an option and that’s okay, because you have a team, a coach, and a safe environment in which to learn from mistakes and implement a better approach.

Model Two: Instructional Coaching

The basic premise of Instructional Coaching (IC) is to guide educators on specific areas of focus. IC targets teaching practices proven to have a positive effect on teaching and learning methodologies. Jim Knight, research associate in the University of Kansas Center for Research on Learning and director of the Kansas Coaching Project (more on that in a bit), describes IC as providing “intensive, differentiated support to educators so that they are able to implement proven practices.”

Though ISTE touts IC as a definitive coaching model, there’s one slight challenge: few juicy details exist on what this model actual is. Perhaps ISTE figured the title said it all? Nonetheless, IC initiatives are expanding into school districts across the United States, which gives us two comprehensive case studies to further examine IC.

(Next page: Real examples)