What is coaching? what is the meaning of “to coach”. Most of the time we understand It from a limited perspective in our industry. Coaching is not limited to preparation for an examination or competition, but Coaching is about connecting with students/aspirants, inspiring them to do their best, and helping them to grow. It is also about challenging students to come up with the answers they require on their own. Coaching is far from an exact science, and everyone must develop their style, but we break down the process into practices that any coach/teacher will need to explore and understand.
Apart from the academic content which a coach or faculty member shares with the student during classes, the faculty member needs to focus on three important aspects,
- Ask: Discussion starts by creating space to be filled by the student, and typically this starts by asking an open-ended question. After some initial small talk with students, the coach usually signals the beginning of the conversation by asking, “So, where would you like to start?” The key is to establish receptivity to whatever the other person needs to discuss and to avoid presumptions that unnecessarily limit the conversation. In his book Helping, former MIT professor Edgar Schein identifies different modes of inquiry that can be employed when we are coaching/teaching. The initial process of information gathering is called “pure inquiry.” The next step is “diagnostic inquiry,” which consists of focusing the other person’s attention on specific aspects. The next step in the process is what is called “confrontational inquiry”. It does not mean that we literally confront the student, but, rather, we challenge aspects of student’s learning by introducing new ideas and hypotheses, substituting our understanding of the situation for the other person’s. In coaching conversations, the more time, we can spend in pure inquiry, the more likely the conversation will challenge students to come up with their creative solutions, surfacing the unique knowledge that they have gained from their proximity to the problem.
- Listen: It is important to understand that we understand between hearing and listening. Hearing is a cognitive process that happens internally — we absorb sound, interpret it, and understand it. But listening is a whole-body process that happens between two people that makes the other person truly feel heard. In coaching, context Listening requires significant eye contact, not to the point of awkwardness, but more than we typically devote in a casual conversation. This ensures that we capture as much data about the other person as possible, facial expressions, gestures, tics, etc. conveys a strong sense of interest and engagement. Effective listening also requires focused attention. Coaching is fundamentally incompatible with multitasking because while the student may be able to hear what the teacher is saying while working on something else, it is impossible to listen in a way that makes the other person feel heard. It is critical to eliminate distractions. We ask our students to take notes in a coaching conversation which helps them to stay focused. But note-taking itself can become a distraction, causing students to worry more about accurately capturing the other person’s comments than about truly listening. We always ask our students to take notes, in a way such that it is just enough to jog their memory later.
- Empathize: Empathy is the ability not only to comprehend another person’s point of view but also to vicariously experience their emotions. Without empathy, other people remain alien and opaque to us. When present it establishes the interpersonal connection that makes coaching possible. Feeling and expressing empathy is critical in the classroom to help students defuse their embarrassment, ask questions, and begin thinking creatively about solutions.
As teachers and coaches, we try to connect with our students, inspire them to do their best, and help them search inside and discover their answers.