What is Educational Coaching?

“Coaching” was introduced in Edward Hallowell and John Ratey’s book Driven to Distraction (1994) as a way of helping individuals understand and manage differences in learning and behavior. Nancy Ratey and Susan Sussman and others have developed coaching models that are effective for adults. However, until now, there have been no models with a consistent core or methodology specifically for use with youth and families.

First noted in the literature as the KanDoo™ program in Exceptional Lives (Turnbull, et.al, 1999), Take Charge!™ Educational Coaching offers a twelve-lesson, strength-based methodology that provides educational and motivational strategies and tools for students who struggle to learn and their families. The Take Charge!™ model is best described as a hybrid of family systems counseling, from which it borrows alliance cultivation, focus on affect, the asking of questions, and the understanding of the person in context; and special education, from which it borrows strength-based education and multisensory instruction.

The curriculum is responsive to brain compatible teaching and different learning styles and includes a hands-on, metaphoric tool to accompany each lesson. This multisensory approach translates the abstractions of behavior, learning, and emotion into something concrete and understandable to individuals with unique information processing styles. This sensitivity to learning styles is not only applicable to the student but to the coach as well. The accompanying workbook is written so that the “coach” can learn the program while helping the student.

Coaching provides the support necessary to help students identify individual challenges, yet more importantly, to increase confidence and self-awareness, discover and appreciate their strengths, and develop creative solutions to overcome personal obstacles to success. The program assesses learning by focusing on both the quantitative indicators to success (i.e., what students do in the academic setting, such as performance on tests and projects, effort investment, and conduct) and on the qualitative indicators (i.e., why they do what they do, such as their goals, their beliefs about their academic competence, and the value of school). Take Charge!™ offers high-risk populations exposure to methods and activities that address these qualitative indicators in a creative, enjoyable fashion.

Take Charge!™ is truly a unique and innovative model. Not only is it the first model designed specifically for use with youth and families but, unlike existing coaching models, it has taken the concept of coaching and morphed it into a discrete hierarchy of skills that can be taught, replicated, and evaluated.


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