On the path to 'becoming'

By Learning Forward
December 2019
Vol. 40, No. 6
Coaches make hundreds, if not thousands, of decisions that affect the daily work of teaching and learning. These decisions are not arbitrary; they are guided by the mental models coaches hold. Mental models comprise our assumptions, beliefs, and generalizations, and they shape how we see the world and act in it. The concept of mental models, popularized by Donald Schon in his study of how professionals learn (Schon, 1987) and Peter Senge in his work on organizational learning (Senge, 1990), has been described in multiple academic fields since the late 19th century. Coaches’ mental models are powerful factors in determining how they see and understand their clients’ classrooms, the school context and culture, and the work that needs to be done. This is one reason

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Gilbert, D. (2014 March). The psychology of your future self. TED2014. Available at

Popova, M. (2014a). The backfire effect: Why we have such a hard time changing our minds. Available at

Popova, M. (2014b). Being vs. becoming: John Steinbeck on creative integrity, the art of changing your mind, the humanistic duty of the artist. Available at

Rao, S. (2006). Are you ready to succeed? Unconventional strategies to achieving personal mastery in business and life. New York, NY: Hyperion. Audiobook.

Schon, D. (1987). Educating the reflective practitioner. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

Senge, P. (1990). The fifth discipline: The art & practice of the learning organization. New York, NY: Doubleday.

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Learning Forward is the only professional association devoted exclusively to those who work in educator professional development. We help our members plan, implement, and measure high-quality professional learning so they can achieve success with their systems, schools, and students.

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