This week I had the good fortune of working with two groups of teachers, with a focus on collaboration. I learned a lot from listening, and hopefully they took away a good idea or two. One of the ideas my mind kept coming back to was the power of words. Words chosen thoughtfully can support collaboration, and these same words have a magic touch when coaching. Here are a few of my favorites:
Some: What are some things we could try?
Some is a plural word that opens thinking. When we ask about some things instead of saying, “What could we (you) try?” We are opening our minds to brainstorm possibilities, rather than quickly narrowing our thinking. The first idea out of our mouths is usually not the best idea, so let’s leave the conversation open for a while.
Could/might: What are some things we could try?
These modal verbs express possibility. Like plurals, their tentativeness gives us the opportunity to process ideas.
Celebrate: What do you want to celebrate about that lesson (or that student work, etc.)?
Beginning a conversation with successes gets the ball going in the right direction. But I like the word celebrate more than success. It just sounds so celebratory! Success feels a bit more judgmental.
Puzzle: What were you puzzled by?
When something is puzzling, there is a challenge implied. On the other hand, when something is frustrating, we may wring our hands and complain. Similar situation, different word choice, different outcome.
Clues: What clues did you notice? or What clues do we have?
Again, the word clue implies that the game is afoot! We are coaxed to figure something out. The word clue is much more enticing than evidence, especially after the overuse of the phrase evidence-based during the last decade or so.
These are just a few of the magic words that support coaching and collaboration. If you can think of others, please “comment” below. I’d love to add to the list!
Teacher collaboration is something I’m passionate about! Really! You can read more about it in my upcoming book, Collaborative Lesson Study, available here for pre-order (20% discount code is TCP2019). Please indulge me in celebrating this book. I’m so excited to share what I’ve learned!
This week, you might want to take a look at:
Research Shows Teacher Collaboration Helps Raise Student Achievement:
Have a laugh with “Behavior Charts for Educators” by Gerry Brooks:
Learning character traits through word sorts:
Two questions to ask a teacher before coaching:
When collaborating, colleagues match complementary strengths:
That’s it for this week. Happy Coaching!
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