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Reflecting Conversation

XChange: Publications and Resources for Public School Professionals


Teacher Leadership Resource Tool – The Reflecting Conversation

By Natalie Irons,
UCLA Center X Support Provider and Training Associate for the Center for Cognitive Coaching


This videotape of a coaching conversation with Carrie shows how a Cognitive Coach SM supports Carrie’s thinking through the different regions of the Reflecting Map (Cognitive CoachingSM ) with the use of the data (student talk and actions) she asked me to collect for her from a National Boards videotape. 

Why - Purpose and Intent

Cognitive Coaching SM conversations are about thinking. A Reflecting Conversation allows for an individual to process their experiences. Without reflective processing, experiences in our work stay at the experiential level and do not benefit from insight about how to move forward in the most effective ways. With the addition of data to the conversation, this “third point” can illuminate the importance of data to promote growth.
How – Thinking process that led to the use of this tool

Because I value thinking and reflecting, I use this Reflecting Conversation Map from Cognitive Coaching SM to support others in mediating their thinking. The video clip shows how I follow this map to guide thinking. The Reflecting Conversation Map keeps me, as the coach, neutral as I listen to Carrie. I know that I can trust that the “map” will guide me so that I stay neutral. Additionally, each of the regions of the map is intended to have the “coachee” stay focused on the event, rather than jumping into a plan. Oftentimes, we jump to a plan with strategies before spending time to process our experiences.

What – Using the Reflecting Conversation Map 
This 15 minute reflecting conversation highlights that taking time to reflect, particularly with the use of data, allows a person to be heard in order to clarify thinking, extend thinking beyond the event and provide a focus on reflection and data before jumping into a plan for goals and strategies. The regions of the map are as follows accompanied by my coaching questions, or paraphrases of Carrie:
  1. Summarize Impressions and Recall Supporting Data- “…you want to reflect on some classroom instruction that you’ve done recently and a videotape for your National Boards Renewal…in thinking about some of the particulars you saw from students what stands out for you to point to some of that student learning you hoped to see?”
  2. Analyze Causal Factors - “What stands out for you when you look at that data? … In reflecting on the data and those two things that were operating for you, what are some of the things you know are important to you in terms of finding that balance in teaching? … So when you think about some of those structural pieces what was some of the thinking you did in terms of sequencing to provide that support? … When you think about this data and those particular students, what do you think they walked away saying about this lesson?”
  3. Construct New Learning… “So what’s some of the learning you’re having right now in thinking about that lesson and reflection of this data?”
  4. Commit to Application… “So what might you want to apply in terms of your thinking around this to your National Board entry?”
  5. Reflect on the Coaching Process… “How has this conversation supported you in this process?”


This videotape has reinforced my learning that reflecting is a powerful process. Following the map allowed me to stay focused on Carrie and her thoughts about how she communicates her thinking to others and the idea that at some point it is important to let go of the process and be open to feedback. Additionally, the videotaping process has provided me with concrete data of my own to use to reflect upon. In reflecting on this data with my coach, I recognize the need to have more practice to increase my skills as a mediator of thinking, particularly with the Reflecting MapSM. I also see the importance of videotaping and analyzing the tape as critical to my growth as a coach. 



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