Being open is a coaching attribute that can be part of our lifelong-learner mindset. Asking an open-ended question, as I did with Piper, is one way to demonstrate an open mindset. Starting a conversation with, “What’s on your mind?” leaves the door wide-open for any topic of conversation. Asking, “What else could you try?” suggests there are many possible solutions. Asking, “What makes you say so?” deepens the level of analysis in a conversation. When we ask questions without having our own answer in mind, we are displaying an open mindset.
Keeping the doors of the mind open means that we avoid criticizing or ignoring new ideas. It means delaying judgment. It’s refreshing not to have to defend your own ideas, but rather to listen intently to others’. Although there are definitely times when coaches should share their expertise, doing so with an open mindset brings a lightness to the conversation, affording teachers their agency and acknowledging their own professional judgment. Being open invites a productive conversation.
When we maintain open communication with teachers, we welcome their thoughts, worries, concerns, and celebrations. We establish a conversational tone where teachers feel free to talk about their thoughts and opinions. Teachers know they can bring up both everyday issues and difficult topics. I’ve found that exploring ideas together leads to growth – for the teacher and for me.
When coaches have an open mindset, they are approachable. Their posture, positioning, and facial expressions help teachers feel at ease. Some of us have to think intentionally about each of these things, but they tend to flow more naturally when we remind our brains to move our own ideas to the back burner for a minute and be open to the ideas of others.
Our state of mind frames and changes everything we see. When we are open, our mental models are temporary and flexible. A good conversation is one where we learn something, and what others say is always interesting. Being open is seeing things both as they are and as they could be. It means seeing our coaching work as full of possibility.
This week, you might want to take a look at:
How to build resilient teams:
A podcast about productive PLC conversations:
7 rules for supporting students who have difficulty self-managing:
Assessing engagement with the engage-o-meter:
Humor writing for teens:
That’s it for this week. Happy Coaching!
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