A year ago last spring I had the opportunity to attend a training that I wish I had been exposed to much earlier in my career--Cognitive Coaching-based on the work of Arthur Costa and Robert Garmston. Participation required a commitment to eight full day sessions on Saturdays throughout the spring. Quite an investment—yes—but what a return!
The three major goals or outcomes of employing cognitive coaching continue to resonate with me: trust, learning, and autonomy.
The first goal is trust--trust in the process and trust in each other. Developing a deeper level of trust between the appraiser and the appraisee is an essential component of new the Texas Teacher Evaluation and Support System (T-TESS). An evaluation predicated upon trust demands that we reject the adult-child relationship that sometimes plagues the evaluation process and replace it with a mutually respectful, collaborative approach to examining instructional effectiveness and promoting professional growth.
A second goal of cognitive coaching is learning. Costa and Garmston believe that all learning requires an engagement of and a transformation of the minds. Transformation is at the heart of T-TESS.The compliance orientation of PDAS has been transformed into a developmental supervisory approach with the goal of developing capacity of professionals at all levels of the organization.
The third, and most profound of the goals in my estimation, is that of developing cognitive autonomy. The authors’ describe cognitive coaching as the means to develop teachers’ ability to self-monitor, to self-analyze, and to self-evaluate. T-TESS gives appraisers a mental coaching map: a protocol for the pre-conference and post-conference that employs the use of carefully constructed reflective questions to bring about deeper personal awareness on behalf of the teacher about his/her instructional practice.
The conferencing component of the new T-TESS system beckons campus leaders to awaken the “cognitive coach” from within and to embrace a more collegial relationship that supports teachers in becoming critically self-reflective about their work.
Trust, learning, and autonomy—quite an investment—yes—but what a return!