Strength-based Coaching: Why Ask: “What areas can be improved?”

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During the past 5 weeks I have been involved in an online connected coaching course via plpnetwork. At this point, this course has given me great learning to reflect upon and to connect with past experience.


Connected Coaching is a combination of strengths from three coaching models:

1. The 5 States of Mind with self reflection and self-efficacy from  Cognitive Coaching by Costa & Garmston

2. Collaborative communities of inquiry from Instructional Coaching by Knight

3. Appreciative Inquiry approach focusing on strengths instead of weaknesses from Evocative Coaching by Tschannen-Moran & Tschannen-Moran.  


What has surprised me the most is how the Appreciative Inquiry approach can promote growth solely reflecting from a strength-based perspective.  Since I learned about AI, I am excited about focusing on people’s strengths and, at the same time, feeling confident that it will help them grow personally & professionally in a positive frame of mind. When I think about teachers reflecting on their classroom walk-through data and in PLCs, I don’t ever want them to feel like they are not doing anything right.  There are always many things that they are doing well and I want them to build upon those strengths and be empowered by it. In the past, I viewed coaching as helping people with their weaknesses, not their strengths.  The AI approach has given me a different perspective.  We do not have to focus on areas of improvement when focusing on strengths can move us forward more effectively.


Connected coaching has also helped me to realize the importance of stories. Trust & rapport emerge from educators telling their stories from a positive framework. Confidence & empowerment also start to shine as educators reflect on their practice and effectively move forward. If a negative mindset gets us off track, then the power of stories about what has gone well can bring us back to a positive frame of mind to work within.


Evocative Coaching also describes the importance of brainstorming. The idea of the Wondering Playground from Dana, N. F., & Yendol-Hoppey, D. in their book: The Reflective Educator’s Guide to Professional Development: Coaching Inquiry- Oriented Learning Communities also appeals to me because it connects with what I currently believe– play is important.  This framework gives PLCs a structure for “play”.  I think this will also empower teachers to pursue what may be a burning question for them that emerges from their practice.


I’m looking forward to the last few weeks of this course as I hone my skills and learn more from my colleagues.



About Maureen Schlemko

Principal, literacy specialist, instructional leader and coach passionate about connected leading & learning and inspiring others!

Posted on July 14, 2014, in Developing and Facilitating Leadership, Fostering Effective Relationships, Leading a Learning Community, Providing Instructional Leadership. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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