A Lesson on Coaching Questions from ChatGPT - Steve Barkley

A Lesson on Coaching Questions from ChatGPT

Very, very early in my initial work with coaching I zeroed in on the need to focus on the kinds of questions one asks as a coach. My first work in coaching was implementing  peer coaching—teacher to teacher. I would pair teachers up for a pre-conference before observing in a colleague’s classroom and they would ask questions like this:

  • What’s the objective of your lesson?
  • What differentiation will you be building into the lesson?
  • How will you assess student understanding?
  • Is there anything special I should know about any of your students?

Where had I heard those questions before? Of course, they were the questions administrators had been asking in evaluation pre-conferences, which at the time were the only experiences teacher had with pre-conferencing. I found I could help teachers be conscious of the impact of these directing, closed questions by introducing them to open and closed questions on a continuum and then having them identify the reasons they had for asking their students open and closed questions. They generally created lists like this.

Asking which list of reasons seemed more like coaching and which more like evaluation quickly made the point. Their administrators’ closed questions weren’t bad. They were for a different purpose. This example also helped administrators, who wanted to coach, recognize how to change their questions to match the purpose of evaluating or coaching. After observing my coaching conferencing models, coaches frequently ask for a list of my questions. I push back describing that while there are a few common questions you might use as starters, the majority of questions need to come from listening as the coach follows the coachee. Different from evaluation where the questions are for the evaluator’s purpose.

The request for sample questions was just recently raised with me in a virtual coaching conversation. I offered up that we might check with ChatGPT. So, I asked, Provide questions that an instructional coach, working with middle school teachers, might ask in pre and post conferences.”

ChatGPT’s Response – What do you notice?

Pre-Conference Questions

What are your primary objectives for this lesson?

How do these objectives align with the curriculum standards?

What prior knowledge do your students need for this lesson?

What strategies will you use to engage all students in the lesson?

How will you differentiate instruction to meet the needs of diverse learners?

What formative assessment techniques will you use during the lesson?

How do you plan to check for understanding throughout the lesson?

What materials and resources will you need for this lesson?

Post-Conference Questions

How do you feel the lesson went overall?

Were the lesson objectives met? How do you know?

How effective were your formative assessment strategies?

How did students respond to your engagement strategies?

What worked well in terms of classroom management?

How did you differentiate instruction during the lesson?

What changes would you make if you were to teach this lesson again?


I decided to offer some coaching to ChatGPT, These seem a little too leading, feeling more supervisory. Could you make them more open and coaching oriented?”

With that coaching, ChatGPT offered these:


Pre-Conference Questions

What are you excited about in your upcoming lesson?

What goals have you set for your students in this lesson?

How do you see your students interacting with the content?

What strategies have you found effective for engaging your students?

What potential challenges do you foresee, and how might you navigate them?

What roles do you see your students taking on during the lesson?

How do you reflect on your lessons to determine their effectiveness?

What kind of support or feedback would be most helpful from me during the observation?

Post-Conference Questions

What moments stood out to you during the lesson?

What observations did you make about student understanding?

How did your engagement strategies play out?

Were there any surprises or unexpected moments? How did you respond to them?

What feedback did you receive from your students, either directly or indirectly?

What insights did you gain about your students’ learning?

How do you plan to build on this lesson in future classes?

How can I support you moving forward?

I think ChatGPT responded to my first coaching feedback pretty well. I am sure with a few more prompts we could get to deeper coaching questions for reflection. Asking coaches in workshops to coach ChatGPT’s coaching responses might provide some good reflection/learning activities. I am planning to explore it. Let me know if you do.

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