Posts Tagged ‘coaching children’

Coaching for Kids – Part 3

February 18, 2011

28 Day Blog Challenge – Day 18

In parts 1 and 2 I discussed setting and exploring children’s targets from a coaching perspective. For Part 3 I turn my attention to monitoring those targets, and do so through a case study.

I’m sure, as a teacher, you have established methods for monitoring targets: work scrutiny, observing children, questioning them directly about their targets, and so on.

From a coaching perspective, the monitoring and evaluation of targets needs to be guided by the coach / teacher, but owned by the child. This is about getting them to evaluate their progress through open questions and allowing silences (thinking / reviewing time).

The following case study comes from part of coaching pilot study with a Y4 child.

Background – The child was displaying disruptive behaviour in class and the school behaviour policy was not working for him. As a result, he wasn’t achieving his potential in class. Following initial 1 to 1 discussions about how he viewed his behaviour, and coaching him towards setting his own behaviour target, he same up with the following target:

“For people to want to play with me at break time”

Weekly sessions – We monitored this target by looking at how successful he had been each week with his agreed actions. These initially involved coming up with strategies to improve the likelihood that he would be asked to join in games (usually football), as well as thinking of ways he could ask his peers if he could play with them.

Progress – During one of these sessions he told me that he hadn’t had a good week. As I explored the reasons behind this he came to the conclusion that his peers weren’t playing with him because of his disruptive behaviour in class. He’d been displaying behaviour that he thought would make him popular, when in fact it was having the opposite effect. This level of self-reflection was key to turning a corner for this child.

From our discussion he then decided to come up with some strategies which would result in positive classroom behaviour, with the hope it would make him more popular. He came up with a 10 point list of ideas, and chose 2 each week to work on. As he started seeing success he chose more than 2, and momentum built from the positive results.

This coaching method of monitoring was aimed at encouraging this Y4 child to take ownership of his actions and regularly reflect on the choices he was making. Our later meetings would start with more “self-guided” reflection, involving minimal input from myself. He was monitoring his actions / outcomes, feeding this back to me and deciding on appropriate next steps.

As well as traditional teaching methods for monitoring, feedback from the class teacher in this study suggested that using a coaching approach had played a valuable part in involving the child more interactively with his target.

Coaching for Kids – Part 2

November 18, 2010

In this blog, I continue where I left off in Part 1 and look at exploring targets further for maximum benefit.

So you’ve set the target with the child, what’s next?

Part 2 – Exploring targets

I remember setting maths targets with my Y5s. My general policy would be to have their targets in their maths books (or on cards on their tables). I would periodically remind them of these, or tell them at the beginning of a lesson that we would be focusing on their targets, when relevant. I would also use opportunities during 1-1 dialogue to see how they were progressing with the targets. Letters would also go home to parents to inform them of the targets, and when they’d been achieved, along with a suitable celebratory certificate!

Knowing what I know now, I don’t think I went far enough in helping the children work towards their targets. Today, when I work with children on their targets I am reminded of the quote: “A goal properly set is half-way reached” (Abraham Lincoln). So how can we help children explore their targets more fully to give them the best chance of achieving them?

Here are my top 5 tips:

1. Ask them to say what they think their target means

Giving them an opportunity to put it in their own language not only helps you understand their perspective of the target, and eliminate any misunderstandings, but helps them take more ownership of it.

2. Break their target into smaller chunks

For example: Target “To learn the 6 times table”

Step 1: Learn half the multiplication facts (let the child choose which ones!)

Step 2: Learn the remaining half

Step 3: Learn half the corresponding division facts (discussing links between the two)

Step 4: Learn the remaining division facts

Of course, Steps 2 and 3 can be interchanged, and this is only my example. You may have your own way of teaching the various multiplication/division facts. The point is to make the targets easier to learn and less daunting (depending on the size of them!)

3. Set suitable time scales

This is closely linked to step 2 and needs to be expressed in appropriate ‘time’ language for their age group.

If their target is for the term, for example, after breaking it down into smaller chunks, link these to specific time frames.

4. What resources / support do they need

Ask the child what they can already do / what they already know that will help them work towards their target. Follow this up with asking what else would help them achieve their target. It might be about having some specific resources, a friend to help (e.g. with a behaviour-related target), opportunities in lessons to practice / showcase their developing skill, or something else.

5. Identify rewards / incentives

Ask them to think about a suitable reward for achieving their target. Would a certificate be a good idea? A letter to their parents? Extra time on their favourite PC program?

For example: Whilst presenting certificates in assembly is good to highlight success, it may not hit the mark for every child. Some may be daunted by the attention and prefer some ‘quieter celebration’.

Part 3 will focus on monitoring targets.

If you’ve tried any of the ideas in this blog or Part 1, I’d love to hear about them.

Coaching for Kids – Part 1

October 5, 2010

To mark the start of my daily “Coaching 4 kids” tips on Twitter, I’m combining these with a set of blogs on the topic of using coaching with children.

Being a coach with a background in education, I guess you could say it’s a natural step to be interested in how using coaching skills can help children in school. Following a recent pilot study to explore this further, results have been positive. These blog posts will share and discuss these further.

Part 1 – Setting Targets

Coaching in schools lends itself very nicely to helping pupils work towards their individual targets, whether these be SEN targets, linked to IEPs, or core subject targets linked to raising attainment. As coaching is about empowering the ‘coachee’ (in this case the child) to be accountable for their own development, it’s useful to encourage the child to take ownership of the target. So if you’ve set the target, you could encourage ownership by getting the child to see the personal benefits for them:

  • how will achieving this target help you?
  • when you reach this target, what will you be able to do (better)?

… And encourage them to see the wider picture….

  • what else will you be able to do as a result?
  • what other positive things could this mean for you?

Try to keep the questions broad and not too leading. There may be some little gems of information you can get on areas of development / self-reflection you hadn’t realised were going on for the child … as I happily discovered during my pilot study research! (More of this in a separate blog.)

If you want the child to set their own targets (for a given area), some questions you could ask include:

  • So what do you want?
  • What would be a good target for (maths/your behaviour) which would help you?
  • What would be a good thing to aim for? (in the context of a conversation on a particular area)
  • If you could pick a really great target to work on, to help with your (literacy/spellings), what would that be?

Ensure the targets are positively worded; focus on what they want, rather than what they don’t want. (You get what you focus on, so make sure it’s positive!)

Part 2 will focus on exploring the targets further for maximum benefit.

As usual, I’d love to hear about your experiences with the topics I talk about, so if you’ve got some experience with using coaching in school with children, or have any comments/questions about this blog, please get in touch.