Connected Coaching – Week 1

Many educators in Ontario have had the wonderful opportunity for professional learning with Sheryl Nussbaum- Beach and Will Richardson in their PLP Network and I’m fortunate to be helping as a connected coach in one of their projects with Australian teachers.

With the help of Lani Ritter-Hall and Dean Shareski,  the connected coaching team is going deeper with coaching and I’m also exploring my interest in building effective networked learning communities, both on and off-line. We are reading about Instructional Coaching, Evocative Coaching, Cognitive Coaching and Appreciative Inquiry to develop a coaching lens that fits with the PLP Project.

This week I’m wondering how asking good questions might help teachers shift their thinking to a strengths-based approach that involves personal learning, passion-based pursuits and growth.   In doing that, I’ve been thinking about being more intentional about the kind of language I use and thoughtful about the kinds of questions that coaches might be asking.

I’ll be adding/revising this list during the project:

  • tell me more about….
  • do you have anything more to ask?
  • why do you think that?
  • what is the worst that might happen?
  • what makes you think that?
  • what are the possibilities?
  • if everything was working perfectly in your classroom, what might that look like?
  • I hear you saying….
  • can you remember a time when something worked really well?
  • can you tell us about someone you look up to for their…..

It’s definitely a work in progress, but that’s what makes the learning so darn fun! 🙂


  1. Nice. On first read, I thought you said, “I’m definitely a work in progress” – but I then realized you said “It’s definitely a work in progress” — either way, yes, it seems it is ALL a work in progress.

    I love that you are involved with this project and that you are sharing your learning with us all. “Questioning” has been something that you and I have paid some attention to recently, so it will be interesting to develop this further.

    To explore ways of deepening thinking, reflection and relationship is always a worthwhile challenge.

    I guess one of the challenges we always have is to really embrace and ‘own’ the language of questioning, so that it doesn’t become routinized and plastic. The deeper philosophies behind the ‘practice’ need to become part of our schema – lest it appear we are following a script.



  2. Follow up comment — It’s sort of like the ‘dance’ we were talking about that we have to do with our partners – our colleagues or our students. We need to know our partners, know the dance steps, and we must FEEL THE MUSIC.


  3. Brenda,
    I love that you are chronicling our journey transparently– and the really deep thinking you’ve added to our online space.
    Hoping that the great resources that we’ve discovered on questioning (and haven’t yet added to our online content) will be of value enough to add to your already excellent list–
    Peter, Bob and Megan Tschannen-Moran of Evocative Coaching use “dance” to illustrate their model; I’m not remembering any reference there to feeling the music but I surely like those words you’ve used. There is a real art in this process of coaching.
    Brenda, I’m wondering if you might share what you view as most challenging on this new journey?


    • Ahhh…
      Lani, Thank you for that resource. I will certainly take a look. It has been a metaphor that has resonated with me for some time.

      (Too bad I can’t really dance. LOL)

      And I love the concept of ‘transparency’ – of process, encompassing all its dimensions – from the head to the heart. A window on the mind, a reflection of the soul.


  4. Hi Lani,
    The biggest challenge for me is to move from the role of problem solver to one who listens, affirms, questions, strengthens and evokes positive stories that generate growth. It’s teaching, but not in a ‘telling’ way and it’s more in line with my beliefs about honoring the learner and building in lots of choice in our learning environments.

    This is a change from my role in the past, BUT huge in helping the adults with whom I coach and teach. It’s very exciting!

    Thanks for modeling such wonderful online learning opportunities, and your attentive, positive and affirming comments are teaching us all so much. 🙂


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