The New School Year - Part 3


Well, the first official success coach meeting for the 2013 fall semester is now mere days away, and I'd like to talk a little more in-depth about the agenda. This will be our first meeting of the year but also the last before we meet our students, so it is imperative that we use this meeting to ensure that, come the first day of school, the program is running like a well-oiled machine.

First, the swimsuit competition! Oops, never mind, that's just what happens in my anxiety dream version of this meeting. In reality, we will begin by listening to two Ted Talks given by educators Angela Lee Duckworth and Rita F. Pierson as well as discussing a Stanford University study (previously discussed on this blog) on the benefits of college success coaching programs.  I think it's fitting that we begin our discussion of coaching students by becoming students ourselves, and hopefully the lessons provided by these educators and researchers will give us new and inspiring insights into our work.

Next, we are going to give each coach his or her student assignments along with the corresponding folder containing each student's high school and college (unless they are freshmen) transcripts, standardized test scores, application, and class schedule. Then we are going to meet with freshman seminar instructors as well as as with the admissions counselors who have been in contact with our incoming freshmen for the past few months. Counselors will share what they have learned about this or that student over the course of their communication, so coaches will have some idea as to their personalities and backgrounds.

Then we are going to go through the folders and talk about specific students. For example, I will need to inform one of our coaches, who I paired with this particular student because he has a background in hospice work, that she recently lost her mother. I will inform another one of our coaches, who has experience working with students with disabilities, that one of her incoming freshmen has been diagnosed with Aspergers syndrome. Sometimes, while going through these folders, we will swap certain student assignments due to scheduling or other issues.

Finally, we will close the meeting by talking about goals. I have asked each coach to come prepared to share one personal goal for the year as well as one goal for the program as a whole. I can say for certain that each year of our success coaching program has been better and more effective than the last, and I believe that's partially because, as demonstrated by the way in which we will begin the meeting, many people who become educators do so primarily because they are students at heart. Simply put: we love learning. Thus, our program, like education at its best, is dynamic- ever-changing in order to better itself.

Here's to doing it even better in the fall of 2013.

Please check out Part 1 and Part 2 of the 'The New School Year' series if you missed the earlier posts.

Susan Marion is the Coordinator for Success Coaches at Tiffin University, in Tiffin, Ohio. She was instrumental in starting success coaching at the institution in 2007.  The program now has fifteen part-time success coaches and supports almost one hundred students who are at risk academically.