Thursday’s Tip: Supporting Self-Directedness

Self-Directed – “Directed or guided by oneself, especially as an independent agent”

When you think about it, we all want to be self-directed.  We want the ability and freedom to guide ourselves; to make choices based on a sound thought process, and the independence to tailor learning, thinking, and life to our own style and needs.   Being teachers, we also strive to achieve that same ability and desire in our students.  We want them to be self-directed with their thoughts, learning, and life.  Our biggest obstacle is: How do we achieve self-directedness in ourselves and our students?  As we first focus on ourselves for this post, there are several ways to move towards becoming self-directed.  With summer here, we can take some time and explore possible avenues to help meet that goal.


We might consider the development of our own Personal Learning Network (PLN) through blogs, wikis, Twitter, Facebook, and other social networks.  We can choose the ones that allow us to develop skills, learn about new technologies, explore teaching strategies, see a variety of perspectives, and learn about educational issues affecting not only ourselves but the world.  A variety of tools and media allows us to develop a PLN that fits our individual learning styles as well as connect to the global education community where we can gain and share new learning.

Another way to move towards becoming a self-directed individual is through the organization of our thought process.  We have discussed in previous posts ways to reflect and plan.  We can implement these skills in almost any situation and in everything we do.  We can ask ourselves questions to develop a plan, and then once the event is over, reflect on ways to continue or improve what we did. This can include the setting of goals and monitoring the follow through of those goals.   As we take these pieces of planning and reflecting and internalize the process, we move ourselves closer to becoming a more self-directed person.

So some questions that could support you in becoming more self-directed that you might want to consider are:

  • What goals might you have for yourself in becoming self-directed?
  • What might be some strategies you can use to develop your ability to be self-directed?
  • What learning styles and preferences in yourself do you need to consider in becoming self-directed?

Taking the steps in becoming more self-directed may seem small but can have a powerful impact on how we approach and handle life.  As the Australian song reminds us – “From little things, big things grow” – Paul Kelly

Carmen Marty, Terri Brines, & Brooke Higgins are eMINTS Instructional Specialists and Cognitive Coaching/eMINTS Agency Trainers. For more information about Cognitive Coaching and related seminars visit the eMINTS National Center events page.

mathplourde (Photographer). (2007). My PLN Banner. [Web]. Retrieved from http://www.flickr.com/photos/mathplourde/4618916837/

Friday 4ALL: What is Cognitive Coaching?

Over the past month the Networked Teaching & Learning blog has published a handful of posts referencing Cognitive CoachingSM. Some of you might be wondering what Cognitive CoachingSM is and why eMINTS is talking about it.

The Center for Cognitive CoachingSM defines Cognitive CoachingSM as a “research-based model that capitalizes upon and enhances teachers’ cognitive processes with a mission to produce self-directed individuals.” They further explain that self-directed individuals know how to self-monitor, self-modify, and self manage independently and as members of a community. They offer the metaphor of Cognitive CoachingSM is like a stagecoach not a baseball coach. Coaching is a way to get from here to there but not someone that knows what is best and tells you what to do. Coaching helps an individual go from where they are to where they want to be.  As a coach, you help your coachee plan, reflect, and problem resolve.  A coach supports thinking and empower’s a coachee.

So why is eMINTS interested in Cognitive CoachingSM…. What we believe is that coaching makes perfect sense as a tool for those affiliated with eMINTS to achieve what we have identified as outcomes for eMINTS classrooms. Cognitive CoachingSM is yet another tool that can serve as scaffolding for our staff, facilitators, teachers, and students in a hope to help them become self-directed, resourceful, and life-long learners. eMINTS and The Center for Cognitive CoachingSM both value supporting instructional change, purposeful lesson design, enhanced thinking, and building a community of learners.

The Cognitive Coaching Foundation Seminar®is an eight-day professional development opportunity for instructional coaches, administrators, teachers, mentors, professors, supervisors, eMINTS PD4ETS program participants, certified Educational Technology Specialists and anyone who wants to encourage self-directedness of others. Participants will learn strategies to increase others’ thinking potential and mediate thinking when working with someone who is planning, reflecting or struggling with a problem.

Check out the eMINTS website events page for information on attending if you are interested improving your skills as a coach and mediator of thinking and plan on attending the Cognitive CoachingSM Foundations Seminar hosted by The eMINTS National Center. The seminar consists of 8 days of high quality professional development focused on learning communication tools and conversation structures you can use as a coach to support others thinking. We will be starting the next round of trainings in early September. Get signed up now to reserve your seat.

Carmen Marty, Terri Brines, & Brooke Higgins are eMINTS Instructional Specialists and Cognitive Coaching/eMINTS Agency Trainers. For more information about Cognitive Coaching and upcoming related seminars visit the eMINTS National Center events page.

arbyreed (Photographer). (2007). Stagecoach Wheel. [Web]. Retrieved from http://www.flickr.com/photos/19779889@N00/2785101089/ - used with permission under the Creative Commons license.

4ALL: Looking Back – Reflecting on the Year

“Follow effective action with quiet reflection. From the quiet reflection will come even more effective action.” – James Levin

As teachers, we know and value the reflection process.  That time when we can think about what worked and what didn’t.  It’s a time to look critically at aspects of our year and make them a learning experience for our personal and professional growth; a way to think about how we can continue and/or change practices to meet the needs of our students.  Reflection is that piece that allows us to refine our skills and identify areas that we want to improve.  A way to develop effective action.  A true goal setting opportunity.

Here is a series of questions that may help you as you look back over the past year and assess your personal growth.

  • How did your year go and what makes you feel that way?
  • How did it go compared to what you thought might happen?
  • What things did you do that influenced the outcome of your year?
  • What skills, talents, and resources did you draw on to shape your learners?
  • What are you most proud of?
  • What are you learning about yourself?
  • When might you apply your new learning in the future?
  • In what ways has this reflection supported your thinking and learning?

Carmen Marty, Terri Brines, & Brooke Higgins are eMINTS Instructional Specialists and Cognitive Coaching/eMINTS Agency Trainers. For more information about Cognitive Coaching and related seminars visit the eMINTS National Center events page.

Tucker, L. (Photographer). (2010). Reflections!. [Web]. Retrieved from http://www.flickr.com/photos/photographygal123/4948968848/

Monday’s Message: Supporting Thinking

eMINTS & Cognitive Coaching: A Professional Development Opportunity

Ever wish you could communicate more effectively with the people you supervise, work with or train? Do you find it challenging to help people solve complicated problems they are facing or to change how they are teaching or working with others?

The Cognitive Coaching Foundation Seminar® is an eight-day professional development opportunity for instructional coaches, administrators, teachers, mentors, professors, supervisors, eMINTS PD4ETS program participants, certified Educational Technology Specialists and anyone who wants to encourage self-directedness of others. Participants will learn strategies to increase others’ thinking potential and mediate thinking when working with someone who is planning, reflecting or struggling with a problem. Cognitive CoachingSM – a research-based model – encourages the process of decision-making to achieve goals through metacognition.

If you are interested in learning more about supporting people in becoming self directed please visit http://www.emints.org/programs/cognitivecoaching/index.shtml to learn more about our Fall 2011 Cognitive CoachingSM Foundations Seminar.

Carmen Marty, Terri Brines, & Brooke Higgins are eMINTS Instructional Specialists and are becoming Cognitive Coaching/eMINTS Agency Trainers.