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The term ‘cognitive coaching’ may be one you know well as an educator, or it could be an entirely new concept when it comes to your teaching practices as a whole.

As a technique designed to look inward and examine the reasons behind teaching styles and methods, cognitive coaching can be invaluable for teachers. For those looking to enhance their thinking and expand upon the way they interact with students in the classroom, investing in cognitive coaching is an excellent way to achieve these goals.

We take a look at what cognitive coaching is defined as, why this technique is invaluable for some, and how to can be implemented into lesson planning. Read on to find out more:

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The definition of cognitive coaching

According to the ASCD, cognitive coaching can be defined as a process in which teachers are asked to look deeper into the thoughts behind their actions in class. This relates to anything from lesson planning and preparation through to active and intuitive teaching, providing a way to tap into those pre-existing maps and patterns within each of us. Cognitive coaching provides a way for teachers to map their thinking in a manner that allows them to notice incomplete parts of their process.

The results of this are:

  • Teachers that are more confident in their own processes in the classroom
  • A better understanding of areas in need of improvement
  • Support to help teachers be more aware of their internal processes and choices for their class

With cognitive coaching supporting vital processes that are the framework of teaching – the personal thinking and practices of the teacher – it can be an impactful way to enhance the quality and breadth of that educator’s teaching ability as a whole.

Coaching provides an additional perspective and a way to step back and examine what gaps are missing from teaching without a biased position. Also known as metacognition, being aware of the thought processes that lead us to certain conclusions can be invaluable.

Why cognitive coaching for teachers is important

Cognitive coaching is becoming more prevalent in schools. Still, while many facilities focus on supporting their students to be more flexible and confident, this particular activity can also be invaluable for teachers. It’s no surprise that educators often settle into routines that are comfortable for them. For some teachers, this means a teaching style that’s more focused on detail and analysis. For others, it’s a teaching style that’s more free-flowing and intuitive.

While there’s no one right way to teach, educators can benefit from cognitive coaching as it allows them to spot those all-important gaps and holes in their teaching plans. By understanding and acknowledging the areas that need additional focus and support, teachers can adapt to lesson planning that suits their style while also providing everything required to their students. While newer teachers generally have more flexibility as they learn, teachers who are more ‘stuck in their ways’ can benefit the most from cognitive coaching.

The idea of cognitive coaching is not to provide constant and continual support to teachers. Instead, the purpose is to provide autonomy for educators to self-analyze, monitor, and evaluate their actions and choices. By working with a professional coach, teachers can learn to use these specific methods for themselves – making them better educators overall.

What does cognitive coaching look like for teachers?

If you’re interested in cognitive coaching and think it may be valuable to your teaching skills, then you’re probably wondering exactly what this sort of coaching looks like. While teachers often go into coaching, thinking it provides an evaluation of themselves and others, cognitive coaching is more about looking inward. While a coach will typically collect data through lesson observation and interview, cognitive coaching usually involves self-assessment and feedback, which the educator can then use as they wish. Coaching, in this context, is simply providing the framework and understanding to further learn about your own teaching styles, strengths, and weaknesses.

Cognitive coaching is a technique that teachers have to want to be involved in. Simply providing data to an educator that is not invested in the process won’t be successful. For the method to be as effective as possible, you must want to improve and understand your thought process – otherwise, the whole thing simply won’t work. The goal of cognitive coaching for teachers is to provide a starting point for improving skills and understanding changes that need to be made, but just as equally, it shows off the strengths and areas in which teachers excel.

Cognitive coaching can be considered the training wheels of teacher growth. They provide a secure and safe place to start when it comes to understanding internal thought processes and how this affects your ability to teach effectively. Once you’ve been coached, the next stage is to develop independence in the procedures you are taught, allowing for cognitive self-evaluations and analysis to be cyclical. Cognitive coaching is not a short-term fix, but rather a long-term process that needs continual input to be successful.

Have you utilized cognitive coaching to improve your teaching skills? Do you consider coaching to be invaluable, or you think that additional support isn’t necessary to look at your own thoughts and processes? Whatever your opinion, cognitive coaching is gaining in popularity in the US. With great results, there’s plenty of reason why more schools are realizing this unique self-training opportunity is invaluable for their teachers.