Take a minute to think of your coaching toolbox. What are some of your go-to questions? Go ahead and list a few.  

Now reflect on those questions.

  • What are the types of questions you use?
  • Why do you use those questions?
  • How do you know when to use one question versus another?
  • How do you know when a question is effective?
  • How do you adapt your questions based on the educator's responses?
  • How do you use questions to sustain a back-and-exchange with educators?

Though we know that open-ended questions are the best way to prompt educator reflection, it helps to remember that we want to do this with intentionality. And to ask questions intentionally, we need to think about what response we are hoping to get from a educator and which question would be best at getting that answer.

Let’s look at this example using a myTeachstone video below: Lights Out Freeze Game.

Now, imagine you have just completed an informal observation on this educator, focused on how she is using Behavior Management strategies during the clean-up transition from free play to small group time. You noticed several effective moments including clear and consistent expectations, monitoring of the classroom, and redirection when appropriate. You also noted moments to build on--including inconsistently anticipating problems and attending to children’s positive behavior.

Your goals for the feedback conference are to help the educator:  

  • Identify which moments are effective and which are less effective
  • Compare what is happening in these interactions
  • Analyze the impact these moments have on the children’s behavior and the learning time in the classroom
  • Brainstorm next steps to enhance her application of effective Behavior Management

Here we have identified four types of questions you might ask based on your goals for the conversation, the educator's learning goals, and the specific observation at hand: identification, analysis, comparison, and brainstorming.

Specific Questions to Incorporate in Your Coaching Sessions

Type of Question

Potential Starters

Specific Examples


At what point did you notice …?

Describe what happened when …

Tell me more about …

How did you attend the the children’s positive behaviors?

Tell me what you said and did.


What do you think went well?

What do you think did not go well?

What was the difference in these moments?

Tell me about a moment when you did not attend to the positive. What was different?

Why is it harder to attend to the positive at that moment?


How did you know [a behavior] was effective?

Why did you decide to …?

What is the value of …?

Why is it important to attend to children’s positive behaviors?

How do you see your children respond when you note their positive behavior?


How will you plan to …?

What are some ways you can …?

How will you include …?

What are some common positive behaviors the children show during transitions?

What statements can you use to attend to those behaviors?

Here you can see several effective questions with various goals for educator learning. Used together, these questions can help the educator think about specific interactions in her classroom, analyze those moments, and brainstorm ways to implement her effective behaviors more consistently.

And this is just the beginning! In addition to the ones above, you might ask questions that:

  • Elicit the educator's perspective
    • How did it feel to …?
    • How comfortable are you …?
  • Encourage evaluation
    • What did you want the children to learn in …?
    • What conclusions can you draw about…?
  • Make connections or integrations to the real world 
    • Tell me about a time you …
    • How is this behavior like …?
  • Encourage planning
    • What skills might the children gain through …?
    • How can you include [this behavior] to support that learning?
  • Facilitate prediction
    • What might happen if …?
    • How do you think the children would respond if ...?
  • Prompt thought processes
    • Tell me about your decision making in that moment.
    • How do you know …?

Let’s go back to the beginning and look at your list of go-to questions. In what category do they fit? How do these categories change how you think about your list of questions?

Please share your ideas, as well as other categories or questions that you have found especially effective in conferences! You can log into the CLASS Learning Community to be part of the conversation. 

A coaching guide to asking reflective questions