Coaching through State of Mind

To support metacognitive reflection, coaches need to listen. But what are we listening for?

clip "Teachers, no matter how far into their careers, can get 'stuck' working on organizational, personal or professional problems. Issues with a parent, an inability to help a particular student, a bad day when teaching seems like the worst job in the world; these concerns affect all of us at some point during the school year. Looking at problems through the filter of a certain state of mind might be the way to see beyond the particular issue into what type of thinking might be halting the process of coming to a solution." (Abrams, 2001)

Abrams tells us that a coach uses what a novice teacher says as a guide to the ways of thinking that need "shifting" before that teacher can address other problems with instructional practice. Examine the 5 states of mind for examples of problematic thinking that Abrams observes in novice teachers.

The material in this section was adapted from A New Way of Thinking: Beginning Teacher Coaching Through Garmston's & Costa's States of Mind by Jennifer Abrams of the Palo Alto Unified School District (PDF at: http://www.cognitive It was also based on the following references:

  • Costa, A., & Garmston, R. (1994). Cognitive Coaching: A Foundation for Renaissance Schools. Norwood, Mass.: Christopher-Gordon. 
  • Garmston, R., & Dyer, J. (1999). The Art of Cognitive Coaching. Highlands Ranch, Colorado:  Center for Cognitive Coaching. 

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