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Process Consultation: The Mentor/Beginning Teacher Learning Relationship. Homestead Conference Center August 9-11, 2006. Session Overview. A Partnership between the Michigan Department of Education and Michigan State University OBJECTIVES

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Process Consultation:The Mentor/Beginning Teacher Learning Relationship

Homestead Conference Center

August 9-11, 2006

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Session Overview

A Partnership between the Michigan Department of Education and Michigan State University


    • Understand the philosophy of Process Consultation in the context of the Mentoring Process.

    • Gain insight into the relationship between a mentor & beginning teacher.

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Session Overview (continued)

  • OBJECTIVES (cont.)

    • Examine our expectations, prejudgments, feelings, perceptions & assumptions about helping beginning teachers through the induction process.

    • Learn to distinguish between helping in an “expert” mode, “diagnostic” mode, and “process consultation” mode.

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The Helping Relationship

  • “So, how does one go about helping another?”

    • Individually, think back over the past several months & identify 2 or 3 instances when you asked someone for advice or help or when you asked for advice or help.

    • Reconstruct the conversation in your mind & identify what went through your mind as you approached the other person.

      • How did you initiate the conversation?

      • How did the other person respond?

      • What was the nature of the other person’s reaction?

      • How did you feel about that reaction?

      • Could you have responded differently from the way you did respond?

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The Helping Relationship (continued)

  • Reflect on the way that the other person responded to your request. How did they begin to help you?

    • As you reflect, are those roles appropriate?

    • Are there other roles that could’ve been taken?

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The Helping Relationship (Continued)

  • So, what assumptions can we derive from our experiences of asking another person for “help?”

    • Sometimes, they respond as “experts,” ready with the correct answer.

    • Sometimes, they respond like “doctors,” diagnosing what they think is the problem.

    • Sometimes, they respond like a “Process Consultant,” listening and inquiring.

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Status Imbalance in the Helping Relationship

  • What is “One-up, One-down?

  • Possible “One-down” reactions:

    • Resentment & defensiveness

    • Relief

    • Dependency & subordination

    • Transference

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3 Forms of “Helping”

  • The “EXPERT” model

    • Assumes a degree of content knowledge and knowing the “right” answer.

    • Assumes the client doesn’t understand all the issues contained in their problem.

    • Assumes that the “one-up, one-down” relationship exists.

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3 Forms of Helping (continued)

  • The “DOCTOR” model:

    • Assumes a “diagnostic” approach and follows a line of inquiry to discover the root cause of the problem.

    • Assumes that the prescription or remedy that has worked in the past with similar situations will work.

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3 Forms of Helping (continued)


    • Assumes that “Clients” do not really know what is wrong & need help in diagnosing problems.

    • Assumes that “Clients” need help in identifying what to improve & how to improve it.

    • Assumes that only “clients” know what will ultimately work for them.

    • Avoids the “one-up one-down” relationship.

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3 Forms of Helping (continued)

  • Unless clients learn to see problems for themselves & think through their own remedies, they will be less likely:

    • to implement the solution; and,

    • to learn how to fix such problems should they recur.

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A Different Approach

  • The model that we will be exploring and adapting to our work is called Process Consultation

    • Developed by Edgar H. Schein.

    • Author of “Process Consultation Revisited, Building the Helping Relationship, “ Addison Wesley OD Series, 1999

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Process Consultation

  • “It is more of a philosophy or a set of underlying assumptions about the helping process that lead the consultant to take a certain attitude toward his or her relationship with the client.”

    Edgar H. Schein

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Process Consultation Defined

  • Process consultation is the creation of a relationship with the client that permits the client to perceive, understand, and act on the process events that occur in the client’s internal and external environment in order to improve the situation as defined by the client

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Key Principles

  • PRINCIPLE 1: Always Try to Be Helpful

  • PRINCIPLE 2: Always Stay in Touch with the Current Reality

  • PRINCIPLE 3: Access Your Ignorance

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Key Principles

  • PRINCIPLE 4: Everything You Do Is an Intervention

  • PRINCIPLE 5: It Is the Client Who Owns the Problem and the Solution

  • PRINCIPLE 6: Go with the Flow

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Key Principles

  • PRINCIPLE 7: Timing is Crucial

  • PRINCIPLE 8: Be Constructively Opportunistic with Confrontive Interventions

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Key Principles

  • PRINCIPLE 9: Everything Is Data; Errors Will Always Occur and Are the Prime Source for Learning

  • PRINCIPLE 10: When in Doubt, Share the Problem

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Active Inquiry is Key to Process Consultation

  • Active Inquiry is a supportive listening posture that involves:

    • Building up the clients status & confidence;

    • Gathering as much information as possible about the situation;

    • Engaging the client in the process of diagnosis & action planning; and,

    • Creating a “safe container” for the client to reveal anxiety-provoking information & feelings.

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Active Inquiry Components

  • Active Inquiry has three basic components:

    • Pure Inquiry

    • Exploratory Diagnostic Inquiry

      • Emotional Responses

      • Reasons for Actions & Events

      • Exploring Actions: Past, Present, & Future

    • Confrontive Inquiry

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A Final Thought

“I have to confront again my own reality that help will not happen until the right kind of relationship has been built with [the client] and that the building of such a relationship takes time & requires a certain kind of attitude from the helper.”

Edgar A. Schein, Process Consultation Revisited: Building the Helping Relationship