Mentoring prompt cards

Mentoring prompt cards

When mentoring and coaching I will often ask three specific questions:

The Miracle Question: Imagine being brilliant at this goal; what are you (and your students) doing?
Exceptions finding question: Where are you at the moment on the 0-10 scale? So what are you doing already that’s helping and got you to x on the scale?
Scaling question: What would be your next small step towards your goal? Your next ‘plus one’?

Fairly frequently, when establishing the ‘miracle’ or thinking about what’s working, I use prompt cards to remind me and my colleague of all the possibilities. I place them on the table between us and together we identify, sort and prioritise.


Sometimes face to face conversations may seem rather awkward especially if the relationship is new. So to alleviate this awkwardness we sit alongside each other and use the cards to help us create a good sense of purpose to the conversation. If the conversation seems slightly awkward or your colleagues is feeling maybe anxious, the cards also help to divert the eyes which can be advantageous too.


By simply moving to a side-by-side position, the colleague you are working with will feel better and less awkward.

Instead of having a face to face dialogue, they will be directed instead at what could be referred to as a ‘third point’. The introduction of this visual third point offers a shared focus towards which each of you can direct your focus, thoughts and contributions. The prompt cards help to create a much more object-centred focus as opposed to person-focused too. Comments are now focused on the cards creating a shared language as well as an objective focus to the conversation.

I have used this strategy for many years now and a couple of years ago stumbled across an approach called ‘three point communication’. Whilst the use of the cards isn’t strictly three point communication it certainly follows some of the principles of this approach.

Read about three point communication further here:

The content of these cards has been taken predominantly, although not exclusively, from two sources:
‘Making Every Lesson Count’ by Shaun Allison and Andy Tharby
‘Teach like a champion’ by Doug Lemov

Download the cards here:

Behaviour cards:

Explanation cards:

Modelling cards:

Questioning cards:

Let me know how you get on if you decide to use them.

If you would like me to help your school with further developing its coaching or mentoring practices, then please do not hesitate to get in contact. References and testimonials can be made available too.

Coaching questions

Here are a range of coaching questions I have collated and used over the years as a coach and mentor to many teachers and leaders.

They are also available as a pdf – link is at the bottom of this post. Hope you find it useful.

Coaching Questions



  • How can others help you to achieve your own or your team’s goals?
  • What would give you more confidence to let go?
  • What would happen if you believed in your team more?
  • How could you delegate 25% or more of your jobs? What more valuable things would that make time for you to do?
  • What would it take for you to delegate the least important elements of your job?
  • What would it take for you to delegate some of the most important elements of your job?
  • If you freed up more time for yourself, how could you most beneficially use it?
  • How well do you play to other people’s strengths?
  • To whom can you delegate the bits of your role you have less aptitude for?
  • What effect would developing the skills of the people you lead have on your own career?

Managing others

  • How would it feel if you had a reputation for developing talent?
  • What did you do today to help your colleagues improve?
  • What do you do when you get the best out of your colleagues?
  • What does your team really need you for? How could you make them need you less?
  • In what ways are you genuinely indispensable?


  • How clear is your vision? What would your colleagues say?
  • If you listened to yourself, how convincing would you be?
  • When people don’t do what you want them to, how much of the problem is your failure to communicate well enough with them?
  • How do you personally like to be communicated with? How does this affect how you communicate with others?

Assertiveness and difficult conversations

  • What does accountability look like at its best?
  • How should it feel to be held to account?
  • How could you prepare better for the situations where you need to be more assertive?
  • What is your biggest fear about being assertive? How might you overcome this fear?
  • Think about some difficult conversations you have had. What were they about? What made them difficult? What did you learn?
  • What difficult conversations did you avoid recently?
  • What difficult conversation do you need to have? What are the consequences of not having that conversation? What’s stopping you?
  • What might you do to avoid having to have difficult conversations so often?

Difficult relationships

  • What signs would give you advance warning of a possible conflict?
  • What could you do to improve your understanding of their perspective or point of view?
  • How difficult do you think the other person sees you to be?
  • What would give you the courage to confront this issue with them?
  • What conversations do you need to have with this person to help you both understand each other better?
  • To what extent might your expectations of them be contributing to their behaviour?


  • What characteristics in people make you want to trust/distrust them?
  • What would enable you to trust your colleagues more?
  • What could you do to make them trust you more?

Giving feedback

  • Tell me about some feedback that rubbed you up the wrong way. How did it feel?
  • How do you sound when you give feedback? What would your reaction be, if someone gave you feedback in the same way?
  • When are people most willing to receive to feedback from you?
  • How can you help them to trust you enough to accept and welcome feedback?
  • What would need to change for your colleagues to ask you for feedback and have a genuine desire to hear it and act upon it?


Understanding self

  • How did you become the person you are?
  • Who sort of person do you want to become?
  • Who are you trying to avoid being like?
  • What is the difference between the person you feel you are and the person you want others to believe you are?
  • What gets you up and makes you come to work in the morning?
  • What do you fear most?
  • What have you learned about yourself recently?
  • If you looked in the mirror now, what would you say about yourself?
  • What might be the most common misconception that other people have about you?
  • What’s the weakness in you that other people might not want to tell you about?


  • What are you like at your best?
  • How would other people describe you at your best?
  • What strengths do you bring to your role? How effectively and consistently are you using them?
  • What is unique about you?
  • What’s your unique contribution?
  • What makes you feel most fulfilled?
  • When have you felt most fulfilled in your current role?
  • What strength are you not using enough?

Personal values

  • What 3 words or phrases describe the qualities of the person you most admire?
  • How would you like to be remembered? What’s your legacy? What do you want people to say about you when you’ve gone?
  • How aligned do you feel your personal values are to those of the organisation you work for?
  • When have you felt that you have been made to compromise your personal values? What impact did that have on you? What did you do to prevent that happening again?


  • What in your working life really motivates or excites you?
  • What other priorities might undermine your motivation?
  • How ready are you for change?
  • How much change are you able to take on or commit to?
  • What do you look forward to when you come to work?
  • What proportion of your work do you look forward to?
  • What opportunities to stretch yourself do you have in your current role?
  • What opportunities to stretch yourself do you not have in your current role?
  • What are the positives and negatives of being in coasting mode or on autopilot?
  • What would need to happen to make you feel truly motivated in your work?


  • In what situations are you most likely to experience stress?
  • What pushes your buttons?
  • What is your strategy for avoiding these causes of stress? What’s working?
  • What warning signs of stress could you look out for, so you can deal with it earlier?


  • What constitutes ‘good enough’ in your current role?
  • What’s a good balance between doing this well and doing it too well?
  • When is it most/least important to get this absolutely right?
  • What would help you to worry less, if things aren’t totally right?
  • What would make you more comfortable about being less in control?



Goals, goal-setting and purpose

  • What do you want to achieve or strive for?
  • What do you want to be different about your current circumstances?
  • What’s the real challenge for you here?
  • What do you want to be remembered for? What do you hope your legacy will be?
  • Who is the person you aspire to become?
  • What’s the role you aspire to most?
  • What do you need most from your work?
  • What’s the difference between the outcome you want and the outcome you are currently getting?
  • When do you want to achieve this goal by?
  • How will you specifically know you have achieved it?
  • If you were amazing at this, what would that look and feel like?
  • What are the benefits of achieving this goal?
  • What did you do today that took you one step closer to achieving your goal?
  • What’s the one thing that you could do that would make the biggest difference to you at the moment?
  • What are the obstacles to you achieving this goal? How might you plan to overcome these?

Clarifying goals for a coaching/mentoring session

  • What’s on your mind?
  • What would be the most useful thing for you to come away with from this session?
  • What would indicate to you that this meeting has been worthwhile?
  • What would success look like for you at the end of this session?
  • What’s kept you awake in recent nights?
  • What needs to become much clearer for you?
  • What concerns do you have that you know you need to address sooner rather than later?
  • What do you want to be significantly different for you in a year’s time?
  • What two or three things would make a difference to how you feel, if you focused on them and ignored everything else?
  • What would you do differently, if you knew no-one would judge you?

Identifying possible issues

  • What negative situations keep re-occurring?
  • What emotion, which you’ve experienced recently, would you like to avoid for the next few months? How could you do that?
  • What habits do you have that you would like to lose? What habits would you like to substitute for these?
  • What’s the next step you want to take in becoming the person you really aspire to being?
  • What other goals do you have that might take higher priority than this one?
  • What other goals do you have that might get in the way of you achieving this one?

Identifying development needs

  • What would most positively stretch you now?
  • And what else?
  • What might your colleagues like you to do more of?
  • What might your colleagues like you to do less of?
  • What qualities got you here but won’t get you where you want to go next?
  • What would have to change in the way you work to further improve your own performance?
  • What would you have to change in yourself to perform well at the next level?
  • What would have to change for you to become the person you aspire to be?
  • If what you do is good, what would ‘amazing’ or ‘even better’ look like?
  • Where do you feel that you are most in danger of getting left behind?

Confronting difficult choices

  • What could you do that was neither plan A nor B?
  • What might plan C or D look like?
  • Imagine you can’t change the situation. How can you turn it to your advantage?
  • Imagine the worst happened. What would be the silver lining?
  • By saying yes and making this choice, what are you saying no to?
  • What do you need to stop doing to make time and space for this new behaviour?



Career steps

  • What kind of track record do you need to create for your next career step?
  • In what ways might this new job opportunity open up subsequent career opportunities or narrow them down?
  • What is the best possible job for yourself right now?
  • What would the best possible job be in 2-3 years’ time?
  • What have you done recently to take you closer to being ready for the next move?

New role

  • What do you need to do differently in this new role compared to your last job?
  • Where will you find the support you need?
  • What will you have to start/stop doing?
  • What did you do in your last role that you know won’t work in your new role?
  • What do you want your new colleagues to say or think about you at the end of the first term?

Being braver

  • What would you do if you were 10% braver?
  • What have you done today to overcome one of your fears?
  • What would you do if you knew you couldn’t fail?
  • What would you do if you knew no one would judge you?


  • Imagine you did this the opposite way to the ‘manual’. What would that look like?
  • What didn’t work in the past? What could you do to make this a possible solution this time round?
  • What’s the most daring thing you could do to create a solution here?
  • Where do you go to for your inspiration?


  • What makes this decision important now?
  • When does this decision need to be made by?
  • What’s the impact of getting this decision right or wrong?
  • What would the person you most admire do here?
  • Who else could you talk to for a different perspective?
  • What have you done before that works?
  • What other decisions will this make easier/harder?
  • What can you learn from experience with previous similar decisions you have made?


  • What could you stop doing that would allow you to give this goal a higher priority?
  • What could you do each day to ensure you made some progress towards this goal?
  • What would happen if you do nothing?
  • What would happen if you gave up on this goal?
  • In a year’s time what will you wish you had done first?
  • What ‘too small to fail’ step could you take?




  • What criteria do you think other people might be using to judge your performance?
  • What are you allowing to happen to you that is making you less effective?
  • Are you measuring performance in terms of what’s easy to measure or in terms of what really matters?
  • How could you redefine what gets measured in your job role?
  • How much of your performance is solely down to you and how much is dependent on what others do?
  • How might you better influence your team’s performance to positively affect your own?

Receiving feedback

  • What messages do you not want to hear?
  • What messages might other people be afraid or embarrassed to give you?
  • Tell me about the last time you requested feedback?
  • What could you do to make it easier for you to receive and listen to feedback?
  • What would make you more willing and less uncomfortable about receiving critical feedback?
  • If you dismiss feedback because you don’t respect the source, how might you overcome this?

Time management

  • What are the most important parts of your job? What proportion of your time and energy goes into these aspects?
  • How much of your time do you spend doing other people’s jobs?
  • How do you prioritise the various demands on your time?
  • How could you better protect ‘thinking time’?
  • How do you divide your time between planning, doing and firefighting? How could you develop a better balance between these?
  • If you had to do your current job role in 50% of the time, without any loss of performance, what would you do differently? What’s stopping you doing these things now?




  • What would you like to discuss? What’s on your mind?
  • What would you like to achieve in this session? What would you like to be different when you leave this session? What would indicate to you that this has been time well spent?
  • What do you want instead of the problem?
  • Imagine that you were really successful with this focus. What is that like? What will you be doing differently? What would we notice? What would it be like if things were even better?
  • When things are more like you want them to be, what will you be doing differently? What else will be different?


  • Where are you right now? What are the facts? Describe to me the issue from your perspective.
  • On a scale of 0-10 where are things right now?
  • What tells you that you are at 6? How did you get there? What do you need to do to keep your 6?
  • What were you doing or thinking differently when it worked better?
  • Tell me about the last time this issue was more manageable or a little better. What were you doing then?
  • Does the goal really bring you the benefits you want?
  • How achievable is this goal?
  • What have you tried so far? What was helpful?
  • Would you like some feedback?


  • What are your options for action to achieve your goal? What options have you thought of so far?
  • What are the different ways you could achieve the goal? How could you do it differently?
  • What are the pros and cons of each idea?
  • What are the possibilities? Best one?
  • Who might be able to help us?
  • Would you like suggestions from me?
  • Which option would you most like to act on?
  • Who or what will be useful to you in this process?
  • If you are 5 on your scale now, what does 6 involve? What would it take to move 1 point higher?


  • Which option will you take? What are the next steps?
  • How will you do that?
  • How committed are you to this course of action? Scale of 1-10?
  • What is your ideal/vision? When will you do it/achieve it by?
  • How will you recognise you’ve reached your goal? Who would notice that things had changed? How will you know when this has got better?
  • What would be the first signs that things were moving in the right direction?
  • What might get in the way?
  • How will you overcome any barriers?
  • What support might you need? How and when can you get that support?
  • How can I help?


These questions are also available as a PDF