The Coaching Role

Examine these topics and consider the differences between coaching and more traditional mentoring of student teachers. Reflect also on a metacognitive coaching paradigm and try the guidelines for getting started when coaching student teachers.


Coaching through States of Mind

Coaching State of MindCoaching is conversation. The coach is first of all a listener. Through active listening and thoughtful questioning, the coach may help beginning teachers recognize patterns of thinking and behavior that either promote or interfere with successful practice. Most coaching is also tied to a framework that breaks the complex act of teaching into manageable approaches to cognition. Costa and Garmston use these 5 "States of Mind" as the framework: efficacy, flexibility, craftsmanship, consciousness and interdependence. A coaching teacher can use these to maintain her/his own perspective and to provide scaffolding for the person being coached. Abrams also uses the 5 states of mind to frame common examples of problematic thinking that she observes in novice teachers.


Practice Coaching with Observation Videos

Video1The benefits of metacognition and reflective practice are assumed in the coaching paradigm. Still, when the coach observes a classroom, she/he has an obligation to call the teacher's attention to events that can inform reflection. Video can help. What would you say to the teachers in these videos if you were their coach?


Support Needs Vary

Stage 1New teachers, like all learners, need different kinds of support at different times in their professional development. As professionals, coaches must recognize the novice's changing competence and adjust coaching strategies along a continuum of support. Gerald Grow created these cartoons to capture phases in the process of helping people become self-directed learners, and we have applied them to the coach's role with the student or novice teacher. For each cartoon, imagine what the main character (coach) might be thinking while carrying out the action with the student teacher in the cartoon. Included are captions from coaches who attended our workshops.


Funding for this website came from the Virginia Department of Education Award #879-SY08 CFG to Dr. Sandi Cohen and Dr. Ruth Ferree at the Curry School of Education. Questions should be sent to Dr. Ferree at