Coaching: helping students to develop lifelong habits

Dr Mark Dowley March 9th, 2021 · 5 minute read

Why coaching?

Coaching done well, may be the most effective intervention designed for human performance.”  (Atul Gawande)

Education is becoming increasingly demanding and complex for young people. Our boys need to balance academics, relationships, co-curricular activities and their own wellbeing. To support them in navigating these opportunities, we ensure that each boy and his tutor are provided with times for one-on-one coaching conversations through the year.

Coaching is an opportunity for your son to build his independence and direct his own life. The process of coaching is designed to build self-directedness in students, as well as improve academic performance and develop resilience. It is a structured conversation to help your son reflect, set goals, solve problems and plan next steps.

What do the experts say?

Good coaching has many positive outcomes for students. The primary outcome is that it helps build social and emotional skills in students. Research into student coaching has found significant increases in wellbeing, hope, resilience and a significant decrease in depression, anxiety and stress (Green, Grant & Rynsaardt, 2007).

Coaching also helps students develop ‘soft’ skills. For example, students who have engaged in coaching demonstrate higher scores on emotional intelligence tests and have improved attitudes to learning. They also show enhanced communication skills, such as: asking better questions, actively listening, giving and receiving feedback more effectively. As a result of this, students have then been seen to have increased self-confidence and improved relationships with peers, teachers and siblings (van Nieuwerburgh & Tong, 2013).

In regard to academic pursuits, coaching has been explicitly linked to enhanced academic performance (Passmore & Brown, 2009). Specifically, coaching benefits students by enhancing their study skills, as well as aiding their ability to set personally relevant learning goals, and developing their goal striving resilience (Grant, Green & Rynsaardt, 2010, Green et al., 2007).

Coaching allows boys the time to pause, think, problem solve and plan. The structured conversation helps the boys to understand their current reality and the contributing factors that have led them to this point. From here, the boys can set specific goals and talk through the tactics and habits they need to develop to help meet their goals.

Coaching at BGS

Coaching is the primary method for improving performance at BGS. The school has developed a program that includes, leadership coaching, instructional coaching, tutor/student and student/student coaching.

Student reflections have demonstrated the impact of coaching on their relationship with their tutors.

 (n=396) Item Pre coaching Post coaching
My tutor knows me as a person 69% 84%
My tutor has a clear understanding of the challenges I face 57% 75%
My tutor really knows what I want to achieve 53% 80%

 

So, what are these coaching methods? Leadership coaching is used to build capacity in staff, whereas instructional coaching focuses on improving classroom practice through the use of video.  Tutor/student coaching is used for reflection, goal setting and progress monitoring as the boys graduate through the years of school. Finally, student/student coaching is the program where Year 11 students help Year 6 students with their transition between Years 6 and 7.

How will my son be coached?

During his allocated coaching time, your son will have 20 minutes to sit down with his tutor to share his story and goals. Your son will be asked to reflect on his year so far, including his academic performance, co-curricular involvement and on his service to others. The conversation will unpack the contributing factors of his current reality in preparation for planning and goal setting in the next term.

On our dedicated coaching day, over 650 boys will be given the opportunity to share their story with an adult. They will be the focus of the conversation and have a chance to genuinely be heard. Staff have reported that the coaching day was a ‘game changer’ for the students, in addition to improving relationships had by all across the school.

What types of questions do tutors ask?

The following are some examples of the types of questions a typical coaching conversation might entail:

Building relationships

  • Tell me a bit about yourself. What interests you?
  • What do you enjoy doing outside of school? What has changed the most in your life this year?

Reality

  • On a scale of 1-10, with 10 being a perfect year and 1 being the opposite, how would you rate your school year so far?

Analyse Contributing Factors

  • What actions or steps did you take to help make these things go well?
  • Who are the people who have helped you the most this year? How have they helped?
  • Is there anything getting in the way, maybe something you need to stop doing, that would help you?

Goals

  • What are four or five things that would be different if the year was a 10/10? Specifically, what would be different?  How would you feel?  What would be different for you, if it had been a 10/10?

Options

  • What are two or three goals you’d like to work on this semester?

How can you help?

  • Ask your son about his goals for this year. Contact your son’s tutor to discuss his progress.
  • Have conversations to help your son reflect on his progress towards his goals. For example, ask: ‘what went well at school today?’ or ‘What did you find challenging this week?’
  • Model goal setting with your son. Talk about current challenges you are facing and the strategies you are using to overcome them.
  • Encourage your son to seek support towards his goals. Having a strong network of people helps students succeed.

 

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