Monday, July 8, 2013

Project Coach Teens Present for Coaching Levels

Kiana Presents Final Statement for Coaching Levels

In January, Project Coach veteran coaches, staff, and graduate students from Smith came together and discussed the need to differentiate coaching levels in order to help all coaches improve. Since we get new coaches each year, Project Coach often has a handful of brand new coaches, a large number of coaches with 1-2 years of experience, and another handful of veteran coaches who have been in the program for 3 or more years. Since each of these groups has unique needs for improving their coaching abilities, reflecting on their own coaching, and preparing for future education and careers, we decided that coaches should be classified into three levels. By classifying coaches into levels 1 (emerging), 2 (proficient), 3 (advanced) we could tailor their experience in coaching academies to meet their needs. We could also more accurately pair advanced coaches with novice ones. In addition, graduate student mentors would have a clear sense of what each coach needed to improve on based on their level. When discussing how to determine which level coaches should be placed in, we all agreed that coaches should have to present evidence as to where they belong. Each coach would be required to present at the end of the year and show evidence of their coaching ability, professional communication, and academic improvement. For each level, coaches would need to analyze a video of themselves coaching, write a personal statement about their growth while in Project Coach, and show recommendations from their mentor (red shirt) and teachers. Not only would this be an excellent way for coaches to argue the level where they belonged, but a great opportunity for coaches to reflect, present, and use evidence to support a claim.

Hearing the coaches present, share their personal statements, and finish with a final evaluation of themselves really displayed their growth and appreciation for Project Coach. After a long year of supporting coaches, visiting them at schools, meeting with their teachers, reviewing their progress, and discussing their challenges with their mentors, it was an amazing gift to hear from them how they have changed. Coaches shared how Project Coach improved their academic performance saying, "I have a whole group of people that want me to succeed in school and that will push me and won't take no for an answer, and I appreciate that." Others remarked, "Since being in Project Coach I have had the best grades in my high school career." Coaches also reflected on how Project Coach improved their communication skills across contexts saying, "I have strengthened my communications skills drastically, in the classroom, as a coach, and in the professional field of employment so that I can not only hear and understand, but also be heard and understood by others." Some coaches even reflected on how challenging their year was and the role Project Coach played in helping them through difficult times. One coach said, "This year has been one of the most challenging years of my life and honestly I don't feel like I could have made it this far without Project Coach." Another shared, "Through my first semester in Project Coach I have faced many challenges and obstacles. Some of these I didn't think I could overcome but with having a great support system behind me at work, home, and school I was able to learn that nothing was impossible to overcome." As Project Coach works to provide support, encouragement, and the development of healthy assets in our teens, these reflections validated our process, commitment, and achievement with youth in Springfield.

After analyzing videos of themselves coaching, their last step was to make a final argument for the level they believe they deserved and how they will continue to improve as a coach and person. Final statements also included each coach discussing their two-year plan both in Project Coach and in other contexts (school, home, etc.). When reflecting on how she can continue to improve, one coach said, "I can improve on getting the kids parents more involved with Project Coach. I would like to associate with all the parents at least once. I also want to improve on being able to get the kids to feel more comfortable with each other." These qualities show her understanding as a coach and her ability to think about how peer relationships and family involvement impact the success of her players. Overall, coaches really impressed the staff and graduate students with their ability to give evidence for their coaching level, and to reflect on their strengths and weakness. As a new tradition of Project Coach, we couldn't be more pleased with how the coaching level presentations went!

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