You probably know what a coach is, in the context of athletics at least.
But what is coaching? How do we apply it outside the context of athletics? What are its applications in education?
Let’s Define Coaching
I’m sure there are numerous definitions for coaching depending on the context. But let’s use the definition offered by the International Coaching Community:
To help a person change in the way they wish and help them go in the direction they want to go.
The essence of coaching is helping people achieve their own goals for themselves, not your goals. Therefore, it goes beyond giving advice or (in the context of athletics) instructing and directing people. It requires active listening and careful questioning to help people come to their own conclusions about what action steps they need to take.
What Skills Do Coaches Need?
Coaching is the act of gently guiding people’s thoughts towards their own conclusions, not those that the coach has predetermined. This isn’t about trying to manipulate people to think a certain way. It’s about trying to help people follow their own thought processes.
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Therefore, one of the core skills of coaching is active listening. Coaches must be able to listen carefully to those they coach so they can discern what are the right questions to ask. Much of what a coach does is concerned with opening up the mind of the person to consider new challenges, new solutions, or new opportunities. Listening actively to people leads us to ask good questions.
Coaches must ask good questions because the craft is built on questions. Being able to ask questions that move the conversation, and the thought process of the person being coached, forward, is a core skill of coaching.
How Can We Apply Coaching in Education?
Coaching in the context of education can be incredibly powerful to help students maximize their learning and achieve more in their education.
It can provide accountability for progress towards educational goals. For example, if a student is struggling to keep up with school deadlines, a coach might work with them to diagnose the real root cause of the struggle and what the student can start (or stop) doing to provide a solution and get back on track.
Educational or academic coaches can also provide help in determining what kind of educational goals a student should set in the first place. Once again, this is not about the coach setting goals for the student. It is about actively listening to the student and helping them set their own goals, based on their own priorities.
Coaching at Unbound
Coaching is a fundamental leadership skill and an important ability for influencing and developing people.
For students in high school, their exposure to coaching begins through receiving it! The Equip (9-11th grade) and Explore (12th grade) programs build on coaching. As students in high school grow in independence and taking initiative for their education, they receive coaching to make the most of that transition.
If you are interested in learning more about Equip or Explore, please schedule a call with our team. They would be happy to share more about the programs.
Jace Bower is the Marketing Coordinator for Unbound. An Unbound alumnus, he has experienced firsthand the powerful advantages of doing college differently and participating in an intentional community. Jace graduated with his bachelor’s degree in History in 2016 and has worked in restaurant management and marketing since then. He also served on the Unbound Student Cabinet in 2019.
The author of two books and a semi-regular blogger, Jace can often be found doing something with words. When he’s not, chances are he’s reading about theology, listening to music, or playing pool or tennis with his wife Shannon in their Virginia home.