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February 1, 2022
Vol. 79
No. 5

Readers React

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In Defense of Cognitive Coaching

Rashaida Melvin and Lauren Vargas make a reasoned case for choreographed coaching in "Four Myths on Coaching and Efficacy." Yet we think several major flaws or misunderstandings give a distorted view of the reflective strategies of cognitive coaching.
Teachers are complex thinking, feeling, and behaving human beings performing in one of the most complex and stressful of situations—the classroom. The assumption that simply telling teachers what to do differently will bring about lasting and transferable change, without aligning those new behaviors with the teacher's thoughts, feelings, values, and belief systems, is seriously flawed.
The authors also argue that instructional leaders often rely too heavily on reflective practices, encouraging journeys of "self-discovery" rather than a focus on "actual effectiveness in the classroom."
But each question in a structured reflective conversation in cognitive coaching is part of a larger purpose, such as to make sure that what the teacher recalls about the lesson or situation is accurate and to discuss evidence of goal attainment for the lesson. In these conversations, teachers also have a chance to reflect aloud on their own behavior and student responses.
Of course, any competent coach will offer a teacher alternative moves when they are mishandling a situation. The difference is in making the teacher, rather than the coach, the centerpiece of their conversation.
Arthur Costa and Robert Garmston, Professors Emeriti, California State University, Sacramento
Editor's note: Read the full letter and the authors' response online.

Against Adult Negativity

This article hit spot on! ["The Critical Element of Self-Efficacy" by Chase Mielke.] I LOVE MY STUDENTS! The factors that make me question my future in education are the adult negativity, systemic pressures, diminished resources, and lack of professionalism.
Christina Simpson (@Christi02113908)

Not Easy, But True

So much to love in this article! ["It's Not Collective Efficacy If It's Easy" by B.C. Preston and Jenni Donohoo.] Norms for disagreement for collective growth. Assume positive intent (yes, yes, yes). Listen to understand and questioning is caring. Just because something is familiar or comfortable, doesn't mean it's best. Evidence of student success isn't a feeling.
Melanie Kosko (@mkosko73)

Behavioral Learning Loss

Ms. Keels! Where were you when I needed you in August to bless me with the term "behavioral learning loss," something we did NOT anticipate, but is proving to be more of an obstacle to on-level learning than interrupted content! Thank you for writing the words my soul has been screaming! ["What Schools Need Now: Relational Discipline" by Micere Keels, October 2021 issue.]
Adrienne Pere (@AdriennePere)
Love (or dislike) something in a recent issue of EL? We want to hear about it! Write to us at edleadership@ascd.org or on Twitter. Printed reactions may be edited for clarity and length.

EL’s experienced team of writers and editors produces Educational Leadership magazine, an award-winning publication that reaches hundreds of thousands of K-12 educators and leaders each year. Our work directly supports the mission of ASCD: To empower educators to achieve excellence in learning, teaching, and leading so that every child is healthy, safe, engaged, supported, and challenged. 

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