Scaling Questions as a Tool for Debriefing

Scaling Questions Conversation Map at a Glance

Opportunities for individuals to reflect on practice and debrief with mentors can be powerful learning for both parties. One approach to debriefing conversations is “scaling questions” adapted from the solution-focussed conversation work of Nancy McConkey.

What is powerful about this tool is not only that variety of mentoring contexts within which it can be applied but also the underlying assumptions described below.

Attributes Based Approach

A purposeful seeking out of strengths is at the heart of this idea. Often, the person you are mentoring has given their challenges considerable thought prior to speaking with you

Islands of Competence

By asking about the positive things you ensure the conversation begins with a success. Even a “1” is better than a “0!”

Ownership resides with the Mentee

Your impression is set aside as ultimately the person you are mentoring will be the one implementing the ideas in their own context (classroom, school, work site).

Flexibility of Stance & Role

As a skilled mentor you may choose to continue in the coaching stance or shift to consultant or collaborator, based on the needs of the person you are debriefing with.

Don’t like Numbers?

For some, applying a quantitative number to an experience may not feel comfortable. If that’s the case, the initial scaling question can be simply adapted as in the example below:

At first, scaling questions may feel a bit like following a script but over time this tool can simply be embedded into a mentor’s repertoire of learning focused conversation strategies.

Utilizing Scaling Questions – More Resources

These videos are part of the 2014-15 Associate Teacher Partnership Project led by Lakehead University in collaboration with 7 local school districts to support the mentoring of Associate Teachers.

This video is part of an OISE/TDSB project to support the mentoring of Associate Teachers entitled Authentic Voices from the Field: Associate Teachers Talk about Effective Feedback.

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