Saturday, March 29, 2008

Tips for being an Effective Coach: Great Leaders to be Great Teachers

We can shape the leaders of tomorrow by teaching them today.

People who are effective in influencing others have the ability to communicate effectively and have the ability to teach effectively. This essentially means that good leaders have the ability to communicate and teach. There is a chance that a person may be able to teach yet not lead, but a person who leads successfully also teaches successfully.

In order to ensure that people at every level understand the priorities of the moment, you need to simply teach them. In this way, they can be developed into leaders of tomorrow.

Following are some tips that will help us to become better leaders, as such better teachers:

1) It is not about You; It is about Them

When you are going to communicate, always understand you are not the star. It is not about you. It is about the people with whom you are trying to communicate. They are the one that matters most.

2)Study your Students well

Great trainers know their material as well as their students well. To know your material and not your students, it simply means that you have something to give, but no effective method to deliver it.

3) Teachers should create a safe environment so that students dare to take risks

It is important for you as a leader to create such an environment where there’s a sense of security for the person you want to develop. Learning requires the room for mistakes to be made. When the atmosphere and the environment allow room for vulnerability and mistakes, material is absorbed very quickly and effectively. If students are not allowed to make mistakes during the training period, then when?!

4) Great teachers radiate Passion as well as Purpose

The difference between a mediocre teacher and a great coach / trainer is not expertise. It comes down to passion – passion for the material and passion for sharing information and experience with the students.

5) Students learn more when teachers share Goal-Setting with them

Most students fail to see the gap between where they are and where they need to be. Teachers need to conduct and inculcate Goal-Setting activities with the students. This is because if you lose you fail to see that gap, you cannot gauge and will lose your incentive for learning.

6) Communicate Clearly & Simply

The essence of teaching and learning is essentially communication, and the biggest challenge that leaders face is whether student understand them. Always remember, Context is more important than content. This meaning having more energy in the class is more important than having great amount of data, because the level of energy will easily convert effectively the data to become valuable information for the students.

7) Practice Vulnerability without Loosing Credibility

To many people, being a teacher or a leader means appearing as though they are invincible and knows all the answers. Any sign of vulnerability or ignorance is seen as a sign of weakness. These people can make the worst leaders, as such the worst teachers. We see a lot in Top Schools where the teachers are usually scholars in their higher education. They are taught with a mindset to not to fail. Be honest about what you know and what you don’t know with your students. Do not try to give them a false answer as you will lose even more credibility that way. We do have to emphasize the things that we know very well and the things that we can actually teach.

8) Teach with Passion

The best form of teaching is not data-crunching. Effective teaching should be personal and with passion. The things you can share with your own heart will mean so much more to your students than anything out of an ordinary textbook. Everyone can read and “teach” from a textbook – but is that teaching?!

9) Repetition of Process

In order for your students to remember the things you have taught them, the best way is to give it to them more than once. It can be through summary, additional notes, mini tests, or simply by asking them questions over and over again in an ad-hoc basis.

10) Ask Good Questions

Effective trainers understand that learning is about exploring the unknown and that it begins with questions. It should be questions that actually seek thoughtful answers from your students.

11) Stop sending them data but teach them how to think

Data does not make your students become much better. The best way for them to learn something is to think about it. Once they picked up the skills of effective thinking, learning will become easier and on a long-term basis.

12) Stop Talking & Start Listening

Effective learning should be a two-way process. It should be a dialogue between the students and the trainer. In order for the students to learn effectively, it is therefore very important to listen to them to find out about their learning progress. Remember it is not what we the trainers want to teach, it should be what the students want and need to learn that matters.

13) Let your students teach each other

Great trainers and coaches understand that their students have the ability to communicate and teach each other, many times more effectively than they can. Peers normally relate to one another better than students do to teachers. Partner-Sharing and Class-Sharing are good activities to conduct. Many Train The Trainer programs available always highlight this as a very important factor for effective coaching, but many do not practice it as they fear that others may say that they are not doing their job in “teaching”.

14) Different student require different approach

To be an effective trainer, we need to understand that different students learn differently. Some are visual, some are audio while others are kin static. We need to engage the class of students in as many ways as you can. We should include a mixture of white-board presentation, reading aloud by students, power-points and class participation in order to be effective in coaching them.

15) Never stop coaching

Effective teaching is about the quality of the relationship between the teacher and the student, and it does not stop there when the class is over. It should be an on-going process. Great trainers should be leaders that are always passionate about what they are doing, imparting what they are learning and passing it on to others as quickly as they possible can. The goal of a great leader is to impact his students by learning how to communicate effectively. Even if you data is good, their ability to receive it and turn them into valuable information is based upon your ability to communicate it effectively across to them.

For current teachers, tutors and trainers, I hope the above tips will help you to become better coaches for your students.

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