A Research Paper By Lynette Jordan, Life Coach, UNITED STATES
Impact of Coaching and Education
After 36 years working in the field of education, I believe the new coaching skills I have learned will enable me to bring a much-needed resource to this field. Having been a teacher and a school district administrator, I know the trials and tribulations that an educator faces. I know from experience that both teachers and administrators are isolated due to the nature of their jobs and do not have a lot of opportunities to reflect and/or process their thoughts and ideas. Having difficulty finding time to reflect and search for resources for students’ social-emotional wellbeing, as well as their academic progress, has made working in schools stressful and full of anxiety. Today’s field of education has become incredibly stressful with the addition of the unknown of COVID. I know that through coaching sessions with me, they will be able to think through those ideas and produce their solutions to help better educate the children of today. I wanted to research the question of what data and positive outcomes are out there regarding coaching school staff and students in the educational field.
Today in the field of education, social-emotional issues among students and staff are at an all-time high. A 2018 survey of students reveals that anxiety and depression are major problems.It appears that with the move to greater use of technology, students are feeling disconnected and struggle to fit in socially. Staff in schools are also struggling with social-emotional issues. I believe the field of education would benefit from life coaching to help address these concerns.
School districts across the United States are looking for a Social-Emotional Learning curriculum to help students and staff with today’s struggles. A survey shared by the National Education Association suggests that issues around teacher stress and mental health have increased since COVID has appeared. This survey found that teachers are twice as likely as other employed adults to experience job-related stress. The survey also found that teachers and administrators are also three times as likely to experience depressive symptoms.The CDC Foundation released in May of 2021 that 27 % of teachers reported depressive symptoms and 37% reported symptoms of anxiety.
Coaching and Education During Pandemic
District and state education departments are looking for a curriculum and strategies to address this anxiety and depression. They hope that in some ways these lessons will help with teacher retention as well. They are wanting to teach and support skills that address self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, relationship skills, and responsible decision making. These are skills that people need to develop across their lifetimes. Strength in these social-emotional skill areas is necessary to foster learning and enable teaching. Unfortunately, the necessary use of technology to teach in a post COVID world may have made social-emotional skills worse for staff. Staff is trying to continue to develop these skills, yet all the while having to keep active on a device. Social-emotional skill sets are best developed through a teaching model that emphasizes the relationship developed between the teacher and the student. For example, it is difficult to teach a skill of self-managing your emotions when you are not able to transition from the curriculum to real-life situations. All people have triggers of stress, but unless a student or a teacher feels comfortable with opening up and is in a safe environment, the lesson from the curriculum to real-life will be artificial. Also, teaching some of the strategies for social-emotional learning, like perspective-taking and decision-making, should involve group discussion. Group discussions happen best in a classroom in front of each other, making the situation real and timely. The teacher needs to be able to facilitate and diversify the lesson on the spot, depending upon the discussion. That is a tricky thing to do when everyone is participating through technology. These examples are some of the things that add to the staff members’ stress and anxiety.
Life Coaching with educators, both teachers, and administrators, can help to build these social-emotional skills and strategies. A professionally trained coach can help guide an educator through their concerns that generate stress and anxiety and help them to move forward to solutions, allowing for a spirit of certainty. Coaching can minimize the stress and anxiety an educator feels. There are several positive outcomes for coaching of school staff identified by Elena Aguilar in her Edutopia article.She states that some of the positive outcomes include:
- Collaborative and reflective practices
- Effective personal professional development
- Allows for a deeper learning
- Accountability between colleagues
- Implementation of improved learning methods
- Growth of the school system by developing well-rounded emotionally stable staff.
Educators who are taking time to reflect and process their challenges are sure to make better teachers for students in today’s world. Coaching gives teachers a safe space to be heard and not judged, as well as allows them to shift their perspective and reduce anxiety.
Life Coaching to build strong leadership in a school is also a positive outcome. Since most leaders in a school do not have initial management training, because they come from the classroom typically where they taught, building capacity within a school is important. Coaching can help staff develop personal learning, goal achievement, as well as build leadership capacity. The field of education needs to build leaders within the schools to help the structure of the school thrive. Leaders in classrooms, cafeterias, libraries, offices help to resolve conflicts, improve student outcomes, progress to data-driven instruction, and eventually, instruct students academically and socially.
Building capacity for leadership in schools is similar to the term executive coaching. Executive coaching is the process of equipping people with tools, knowledge, and opportunities to exercise the skills needed to develop themselves as leaders.In Nancy Lauzon’s article about Coaching New School Principals During Their Professional Development Integration, she suggests that this type of coaching in schools can improve individual performance of principals, give a feeling of effectiveness to principals, allow them time to reflect on their leadership, strengthen conflict resolution and develop self-awareness and time management skills. It is known that the strongest indicator of student positive performance is the classroom teacher. With that being said, the strongest indicator of positive teacher performance is the school or district leader, the principal, directors that support teachers at the district level, the assistant superintendent of instruction, the superintendent, and so on. These administrators are also showing signs of anxiety and depression with the amount of district, state, and federal guidelines, along with parental and student demands being placed on them as leaders. COVID has amped up this level of stress, anxiety, and depression. Often leaders are so busy taking care of the teachers and other staff working directly with the students, that their personal social-emotional needs are not addressed. With individual coaching for administrators, schools would see an improvement in teacher support, thus an improvement in student achievement. In a paper titled “Support Principals, Transform Schools” by Aguilar, Elena; Goldwasser, Davina; Tank-Crestetto, Kristina, they state that where principals were supported by coaching, academic performance rose by an average of seventy-four points, compared to previous years of an increase of twenty-six points.This paper also discussed how this growth of building principals lead to a significant increase in the reduction of an effective teacher and principal turnover. Coaching of principals fosters capacity within the school and district, as well as reinforces ongoing learning for all.
Coaching for students has also made positive impacts in the school and student achievement has increased. In the article, “How Can Coaching Make a Positive Impact Within Educational Settings?” the authors discuss the impacts of coaching students. They determined that coaching is a powerful tool to support student learning and development. They argue that the approach of using coaching to address the student in a holistic and multifaceted approach is the key to student academic and social success, creating a competent and successful student. The focus, they argue, is to identify and nurture what students value and their strengths, perceived and real, helping them to optimize those strengths. Then help them to identify niches where they can use their strengths to succeed throughout life. We must academically educate the student and pair that with a one-to-one coaching perspective on the needs of the whole student to see growth in their competencies for life. Those competencies include building hope, optimism, the ability to self-direct and self-determine, encourage risk-taking, develop people skills, along with strong social-emotional skills.
Life coaching helps students to break down the roadblocks they put between themselves and their goals in life. While many students feel a loss of hope for a future goal during their middle school and high school years, coaching can reignite that passion. Coaching can help students to work on organizational skills, time management skills, as well as develop other interests through helping students identify outside clubs and activities to complement their abilities and talents. A life coach can move beyond the benefits of a school guidance counselor, providing a service to cultivate the entire student, not just around academics. The life coach can help the student to learn more about themselves and explore the possibilities available regarding their strengths. Life coaching can also teach students strategies relevant to them to reduce stress and anxiety in life.
Coaching and Education Benefits
The resources I located helped to cement my belief that life coaching is beneficial and needed for the education field, including the staff and the students. Coaching helps the client to find their way through an education field, giving them skills to change their perspectives on a field that feels out of control recently due to COVID and full of anxiety. The benefits of coaching in the field of education are positive, and the future of life coaches in schools for staff and students is encouraging.
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