Three Models of Coaching Compared

FROM: NOTES ON Educating the Reflective Practitioner by Donald A Schon

Joint experimentation ~ Follow me! ~ and Hall of Mirrors

Joint Experimentation (296)

  • Help the student formulate the qualities she wants to achieve
  • Explore different ways to achieve them (by demonstration or description)
  • Coach works at creating and sustaining a process of collaborative inquiry – Must:
    • resist the temptation to tell a student how to solve the problem or solve it for her
    • not pretend to know less than he does
    • can use knowledge to formulate a variety of options, leaving student free to choose
  • Student must be able to say what she wants to produce – does not work when the student cannot envision a desired outcome toward which to work

Follow Me! (296)

  • Coach must improvise the entire scenario and execute the reflection-in-action units within
  • Coach demonstrates the process – Analysis-in-action
    • Separate the whole into units/chunks for analysis
    • Analyze the elements of each unit through various lenses
  • Reconstruct the whole in a new way with the units analyzed
  • Coach uses a wide variety of language tools and images to find those that “click” for the student
  • Student observes the coach and keeps her own thoughts and opinions to the side – otherwise they disrupt her ability to see and hear the Coach fully

Hall of Mirrors (297)

  • Continually shifting perspectives of Coach and Student between
    • Reenactment of some other aspect of the student’s practice
    • A dialogue about it
    • A modeling of its redesign
  • Conversation is viewed continually from two perspectives – seeing it on its own terms and as a possible mirror of the interaction the student has brought for study
  • Coach needs to have capacity to surface his own confusion – “models a new way of seeing error and “failure” as opportunities for learning”

Uses of Model II Behavior in a Reflective Practicum

Students ask:

What am I to learn?

Is it worth learning?

How can I best learn it?

Whether the practicum adequately represents the realities of practice?

The student shapes further learning based on the answers to these questions

Coaches ask:

What are students learning?

Where are they stuck?

How do they makes sense of the “help” they receive?

    The answers are useful to the coach to evaluate and guide further coaching

Students and Coaches “depend on the other party’s awareness of his or her experience, ability to describe it, and willingness to make it discussable – conditions not easily met.” (299)

  • Students are often unaware that they already know what the need to know
  • Coaches are often unaware of the knowing-in-action that informs their performance

    [People don’t always know what they know, nor what they need to learn, much less how to learn it]

    People often revise their learning history, erasing or softening periods of extreme difficulty

    In conflicted learning environments, student and coach tend to keep thoughts private


  • Exchange doubt for true belief – creating a statement of certainty that is difficult to test – or revolting against any such “true belief” – thus creating a mirror certainty – “I’m certain nothing can be known”
  • Mystery and Mastery – private exploration of meaning of the other’s actions
    • “Free of the need to make our ideas explicit to someone else, we are less likely to make them explicit to ourselves.”
    • Undiscussability and indescribability reinforce each other
  • A Better Way – “When a coach reflects aloud on his own knowing-in-action and encourages his students to reflect aloud on theirs, both parties are more likely to become aware of gaps in their descriptions and understandings”
    • Realizing the value of such, the coach is more likely to take such risks again!
    • The Coach then models (using Follow Me!) a mode of inquiry that students can mirror

    The Successful Coach

    The coach will use all three models at various times, and may even move from one to another within a given session depending on the goals and needs of the student. Important to remember are the Model II values and behaviors that flow throughout. Coach and Student: are co-creators of the experience; practice vulnerability and transparency regarding their level of knowledge and understanding; are willing to resist the need to be “perfect”; Risk publicly testing private attributions; Surface negative judgments; Reveal confusions or dilemmas;Release the need to control the process our outcome

    Model II Heuristics (264):

    • Couple advocacy of your position with inquiry into the others’ beliefs
    • State the attribution you are making, tell how you got to it, and ask for the others’ confirmation or disconfirmation
    • If you experience a dilemma, express it publicly

1 thought on “Three Models of Coaching Compared

  1. Pingback: Notes on Educating the Reflective Practitioner « Ken G Crawford

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