No more "I think..." in coaching conversations! I have noticed when working collaboratively I begin to suggest next steps with 'I think' and suddenly others stop thinking. Sometimes this reflects disengagement, this first suggestion made is accepted and pursued; no one else voices their thinking--I only wish that was because my thought was the ideal. Other times teachers seem to feel my opinion is right "because of your position you know what is expected of us, so what you think is what we will do." What starts as an invitation, a sample to warm up a brainstorming session- ends thinking.
'I think' is problematic, not only because it stops others' thinking, it diminishes what follows. I once-probably multiple times, told a teacher, "I think that lesson was creative." The implication here is that others may not feel the same way; although possibly true, that is not particularly useful information. Identifying specific aspects of instruction or the activity which were creative, without qualification, is a more authentic, powerful compliment.
The ambiguity of 'I think...' is another reason to remove it from coaching conversations. Upon reflection I found I have used the phrase which will no longer be uttered when I mean: I feel, I believe, I hypothesize, expectations are, evidence implies, research shows, my gut tells me, et al. How can I expect others to think, or express what they think when it is used in so many ways.
How to change this habit of ambiguity:
I think you should try to chunk that content into smaller bits for students. STOP! What do I really mean? Research shows that lessons shouldn't be longer in minutes than the age of your audience in years. Chunking is an instructional strategy to create mini-lessons. I can support you with resources, including co-planning and co-teaching.
I think your lesson went very well. This comment is filling space that does not need me to fill it! Instead ask a great question: How were your students' responses to instruction -or the activity- different than you expected?
I think you don't care about other teachers. This is a feeling-based judgment that does not support problem solving. Instead: Your students have been late for interventions the past three days; what support is needed? A clear statement of the problem begins a path to solutions.
My last argument is the reason 'I think' must be removed from all professional dialog: 'I think' gets in the way of collaboration
I think homework is a waste of student and teacher time. I think homework is great for practicing and responsibility. Opposing opinions like these are often attributed -incorrectly- to teaching style and will block collaboration. I think this, you think that-there is an impasse. You won't change what someone else thinks by telling them what you think. These teachers have reached separate conclusions and do not have common understanding. Instead facilitate research or a dialog about the benefits and drawbacks of homework (you may find similar feelings about worksheets) to begin to find common ground.
Eliminate 'I think' and continue thinking about how and why!