GROWS – Goals, Reality, Options (Preview)

Part 1: Intro & Objectives

In this lesson, you will learn more about the GROWS model, with a focus on the Goals, Reality, and Options steps.

After completing this lesson you will be able to:

  • Understand the goal, reality, and option steps of the GROWS model.
  • Use the GROWS Model as a guide to structure mentoring conversations.

Part 2: Video Demonstration

The purpose of the GROWS Model is to provide a systematic protocol for organizing a mentoring conversation.

  • How does using the GROWS Model help you facilitate your discussions during the mentoring process?

As you watch the video, use the GROWS Guide to assess what you see. Try to capture and quote the phrases and questions that demonstrate the GROWS steps.  You may want to also create a list of questions for each stage of the GROWS process.

Video Summary

The former principal left the file of a teacher who has had two years of unsatisfactory performance evaluations on the desk for the new principal. The teacher is very personable and outgoing, and well-liked by many teachers, students and most parents. During the year, the new principal has continued to provide the supports that were required by the teacher’s improvement plan and has concluded that the teacher should be dismissed.

The principal has become aware that most of the staff and many parents want this teacher to remain at the school. Although the teacher does not have horrible performance, the performance standards are not being met and students are not making adequate progress. The principal needs help and support in coming to a decision whether to recommend dismissal and determining how to deal with the possible negative effects the dismissal could have on the climate of the school.

The GROWS model provides a systematic structure for problem solving and mentoring. It helps guide the mentor to facilitate conversation, supporting a new school leader as he or she learns to solve problems. Review your assessment with a partner to see if you agree.

Part 3: Resources & Activities


Practice using the GROWS model with a challenge or issue that you experienced.  Coach yourself with helpful questions, such as:

  • What is your Goal?
    • Is it focused?
    • Is it out-come oriented?
    • Is it positive (rather than what you don’t want)?
  • Describe the current Reality:
    • What is not going well?
    • What is going well?
    • What are possible root causes?
  • Identify possible Options.
    • What have you already tried?
    • What are the benefits and downsides to each option?
    • How would you feel if you implemented each option?
    • What factors will contribute to the success or failure of each option?
    • What additional options can you think of if obstacles were removed?

Write down variations of these questions that fit your situation.  Use these questions as prompts for future coaching sessions with the beginning principal. As you consider the various questions you’ve written, also consider:

  • Do any of these questions seem “risky”? Do they imply accusations or answers?
  • Are the questions relevant to the issue at hand?
  • Can these questions help move a conversation through the GROWS model? Are there any “roadblock” questions that will stop thoughtful talk?
  • Do you have a “right” answer in mind and are your questions leading?

Part 4: Review & Reflect

Now that you’ve completed this lesson, please review the purpose of the GROWS model.

  • Why is it helpful to mentoring conversations?
  • What are some pitfalls in communication that you can foresee and how might you plan to avoid them?
  • How does questioning support the GROWS model?
  • What can you do to ensure that the questions you ask facilitate thoughtful conversation?
  • What did you notice in this lesson?
  • Were you surprised? What do you still wonder?

Back to: Mentoring School Leaders > Mentoring School Leaders Module