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Debriefing is a skillset. This is why we have created Coach Debrief Guides for each of our Foundations Modules.  They lay out exactly what needs to happen and in what order. The coach just needs to enter the specific learner information for each section, and then follow the guide when debriefing.

Training and coaching are important, but they are much less effective without debriefing. Debriefing is critical to learning. No, that isn’t strong enough. Debriefing is at least as important to learning as the learning activity you are debriefing.  Really think about that for a minute. When you do debriefing properly, as much or more learning happens during that debriefing as during the shadowing (or whatever) you are debriefing. 

This is why debriefing is one of the core responsibilities of coaches.  It might be the single most impactful activity they do to increase learning and training transfer.  In the past, coaches have had to spend significant amounts of time creating and implementing training, often at the expense of debriefing. Under that model, debriefing was frequently treated as a secondary task, given whatever time and energy was leftover. Plus, as we have been discussing for the last two weeks, coaches rarely had the proof points necessary to do specific and evidence-based debriefing.

This mismatch between best practices and what was actually happening was one of our big incentives to create our eLearning program.  With our new eLearning system, a coach’s primary task during initial MiiWrap training is debriefing. As we discussed last week, the system collects mountains of specific data from each learner to give the coach everything they need to do targeted debriefing. 

So now coaches in our system have the time and data to do high quality, targeted debriefing for each learner at each step of the process. But we still felt like there was more we could do. If we revisit the last sentence in the first paragraph, you can see that I added a qualifier word:  When you do debriefing properly, as much or more learning happens during that debriefing as during the shadowing (or whatever) you are debriefing.  That word is properlyWhen a coach does debriefing well the student is talking more than the coach which allows the coach to asses the students understanding of the topic and guide their answers to an even greater understanding.

Debriefing is a skillset. There are mountains of research about how to structure and approach debriefing to achieve the desired results. We teach this during our Coach Workshop, but learning something isn’t the same as doing it (which is kind of the point of this whole post).  This is why we have created Coach Debrief Guides for each of our Foundations Modules.  They lay out exactly what needs to happen and in what order. The coach just needs to enter the specific learner information for each section, and then follow the guide when debriefing. Over time, as the coaches’ comfort and skill level with debriefing increases, they can customize the experience more and more (or not – some people like it exactly how it is laid out).

Each Coach Debrief Guide is made up of the same sections, customized for the specific module. They are:

Two people talking
  1. Goals for the Module
    • This first section reminds you of the learning goals for this module so you can keep them in mind as you assess your learner’s needs.
    • It ends with “After you have completed the rest of this sheet, ask yourself: Do they seem to need extra conversation or training around any of these goals? If so, which?”
  2. Start with Specific Affirmations of Good Answers and Use of the Materials
    • This section prompts the coach to identify three affirmations to start the session off with. Learners respond better when starting with positives.
    • This section also sets the strengths- and feedforward-based tone for the discussion
  3. Follow-Up on Any of the Quiz Answers that Need Further Discussion
    • This section asks the coach to review the learner’s quiz data and answer the following question: Based on their quiz answers, what topics might need further discussion?
  4. Ask the Follow-Up Content Debriefing Questions
    • This section contains between 4 and 10 module specific debriefing questions, created to expose the depth of knowledge the learner has on the module’s key topics and skills.  The coach uses some or all of them to foster a deeper discussion.
    • While listening to the answers, they ask themselves: Do any of their answers expose growth areas you want to address?
  5. Shadowing Activity
    • This section guides the coach through the shadowing debriefing process for the module. It asks them to assess learning and knowledge gaps from their shadowing responses
    • It also provides shadowing specific debriefing questions to help dig deeper into the learning opportunities provided by the shadowing.
  6. Module Activity
    • This section reminds the coach what the activity was, and the goals of the activity. It them prompts them to assign global ratings with feedback to the submitted activity
    • Next, the coach notes what parts of the activity the learner is strong at, and which parts they are still struggling with.
    • Finally, the coach has a few activity-specific debriefing questions to dig deeper into the learner’s thoughts and understanding
  7. Debriefing Essay
    • This section prompts the coach to review the learner’s submitted essays for the module, and identify:
      • What they said that was great
      • What they said that requires further conversation
  8. Based on the Whole Module and Your Past Experiences with the Staff
    • This last section asks the coach to consider the learner’s input for and discussions about the module holistically, and identify areas for growth.
    • It also reminds the coach to check in with the learner about their learning process, and see if any adjustments need to be made to make the process smoother for the learner

You may have noticed that this debriefing format focuses on asking the learner to think out loud, make connections, and generally speak about MiiWrap. This is partially to help you better understand exactly what they understand, and give you room to help increase their understanding within their zone of proximal development. It also allows learners to fully make connections in their own minds that they might not have fleshed out yet. Both of these activities create tremendous learning gains. 

When a coach completes a debriefing using these guides, they can be confident that they have been thorough, complete, and in line with best practices. Most importantly, they know that they are supporting their learners to the fullest.

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