Coaching with Curiosity

“I think, at a child’s birth, if a mother could ask a fairy godmother to endow it with the most useful gift, that gift would be curiosity.” Eleanor Roosevelt

Curiosity is one of the hot topics among educators this summer.  It makes sense that students are more engaged and invested in their learning when they are genuinely curious and want to learn more.  We need our students to be curious, because they are the next generation of inventors, and have the potential to transform our future.  Love this video from Google:

This helped me realize that the coach’s role is to spark teacher curiosity.  Here’s how:

Start with questions.  Send out a survey to teachers at the beginning of the year, asking what they want to learn more about.  Then, offer workshops that target teachers’ interests.  At the start of a coaching cycle, help teachers create their own questions and wonderings, which can become the foundation of the coaching cycle.  Teachers will be much more invested and excited if the cycle is designed to answer their questions.

download (6)Support teachers in asking deep, meaningful questions that begin with “why,” “what       if,” and “how.”  Analyzing data and student work is a perfect opportunity to develop questions about desired student and teacher outcomes, looking closely at what is working and what could be improved.  A More Beautiful Question by Warren Berger is a great resource for developing the art of questioning.

Give time to explore.  Professional development presentations often cover a wide range of topics, filled with lots of new information.  Give teachers time to digest what they have learned and how they can apply it to their classroom.  Give them time to research what interests them, find resources online, and connect with other educators on social media.  Give them time to connect with each other and share stories of success and failure.  One thing that has been very successful in professional learning at my school is “tinker time.”  After introducing  a new iPad workflow, teachers would have tinker time to explore apps and see what would work best for them.

We know that students learn best when they are given choice and a voice – the same is true for adults!  Last year, our faculty embarked on a Professional Passion Project, in which we began with a question – something we were passionately curious about.  After researching it and learning all about it, we created a presentation to share new findings with the community – teachers, students, and parents.  As a coach, these passion projects became a way for me to connect with teachers and suggest additional resources to help them continue to learn more about a topic of interest.  And, as an added benefit, I learned so much from them!

Model it. Just as teachers model curiosity for students, coaches need to model it for teachers.  It is an exciting time to be an educator and there is so much to learn.  Start a book club about a topic you want to learn more about or host an impromptu lunch discussion to share favorite new resources.  Twitter chats, webinars, and MOOCs are also great ways to learn and grow together.

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Curious to learn more? Here are some great resources:

EdTech Resources to Support Curiosity

Nurturing Teachers’ Curiosity by Steve Barkley

Curiosity: The Force Within a Hungry Mind


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