There are two major practice levels that an academic coach needs in order to focus on being a learning coach for adult students need in order for them successful in a fast-paced learning environment. The first level is what I would call “big picture” approach of coaching, regardless of the gaps and goals, there is a mindset towards inspecting and adapting. The second practice level, which I will address in future posts, focus on specific target areas and strategies for addressing those areas.
Before the process of inspecting and adapting can take place, there is a certain level of understanding that needs to be established between the coach and learner. This can be most easily established by
- establishing goals together,
- having students self-identify where they are,
- looking at their actual work together, and then
- helping students acknowledge their gaps. As a result, the goals might adjust a bit at the beginning.
The time it takes to create this shared understanding and trust would and should vary based on the student’s own background, fears, and motivations.
Creating a Plan
Once a student is a bit more self-aware on what needs improvement, it is important to set achievable goals that are short-term. Even when setting the goals, students often need to have the process of achieving those goals broken down into an action list.
Also, in creating the plan, it’s best to not have a painful list of failings. Focus on the big issues, and then target one thing to really find measurable improvement. This will help reduce cognitive overload and feel success.
Updating the Plan
Here is where the mindset of inspecting and adapting comes into place. Frequently, the progress needs reviewing, and new information will come to light. A stumbling block for learners is rigidity around goals. As such, it is important to help them adapt their action plan based on the inspection of their progress.
As the relationship closes, at least formally, it is important to provide emotional closure too. This should always start with an acknowledgment and celebration of improvement, and then there are a variety of “next step” methods to suggest, including a new action plan, identification of strategies, and even accountability to celebrate new successes. Regardless, the goal for any learning coach is to instill a sense of confidence for the learner to feel responsible for personal growth.
Through all of this, it is the goal of a learning coach to help transition a learner from a fixed mindset that may avoid challenge, give up, not understand the point, or resist negative feedback …. to a growth mindset that may start embracing challenge, persist, value mastery, and learn from criticism. Will we see the shift immediately? Not hardly. But knowing this underlying goal helps us communicate more effectively.