In this video, I explain exactly how I did one of my recent Educational Coaching calls (aka Executive Function Coaching).
I describe the process so you can apply it to your child if you’re a parent, or so you can apply it to students if you’re a teacher.
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What’s going on, I’m Seth with SethPerler.com and I hope you’re having a great day. Look, I was doing a coaching call with one of my students today, and I thought that would I would do is take some notes on how I do the coaching calls. Basically, what I did on this particular coach and call is after I was done, I jotted down what we had done, and what I’m going to do for you here is go over how I did that, how it worked, why it worked, and try to explain it to you in such a way (this is for parents and teachers), but try to explain it to you in such a way that you can use it to apply to students that you’re working with (your child or your students in your classroom). So basically this particular call was with a student who is in 8th grade, a boy who is pretty motivated, and I’ve been working with him for, its November or so, I’ve been working with him since late August of this year. He’s doing fantastic. He’s got all A’s and 1 B. So obviously were still working together and I’m just really trying to help him end on a strong note. The whole point was that he could be successful in this new school that he’s in, considering his executive function struggles. So things are going very well. He’s had his ups and downs, but he’s in a really good place right now. It’s not the end cuz he still has three more weeks before the end of the semester and the big things are coming up. There is one big sticking point class in particular, but basically, I’m going it was about a 45-minute call and we did this one on Skype. This is somebody that I sometimes see on Skype and sometimes see in person here in California. He doesn’t live in my city, so we see each other about every other week in person, and then we do calls in between. Because if you’re trying to help the kid change, you cannot just see them once in a while. You really have to be responsive and you really have to know that things come up quickly. You have to be ready to respond to that. So we’ll sometimes do quick calls for 5 or 10 or 15 minutes a couple of times a week, and then we’ll do more in-depth ones once or twice a week, and then way in-depth ones of every couple of weeks.
So anyhow, there’s no exact system to that. You don’t want to be thinking in a linear way about this because you’re dealing with a human being who’s trying to change. This is not you know, some linear process. You want to be responsive to what’s going on. Anyhow, so, it was about a 45-minute call. In the first 5 minutes of the call, in this particular case today, I spent building rapport. Rebuilding report. So I don’t go straight into things unless there’s an urgent reason. Unless there are some big dropping grades or something big that happened all of a sudden. In this case, that was not the case so I build rapport first. As a parent or teacher when you’re going to start working with a kid who struggles with something, you’re going to want to do the same. I want to build some rapport first. So I spent probably a good five minutes really catching up and saying, “What’s going on? How are you doing? How are your hobbies,” you know, and talking about things that are more personal in meaningful and important to this student.
The next thing I did after rapport is we talked specifically about the backpack. This took about 5 minutes. He said his backpack was in pretty good shape but I had him relook at it. Look in the pockets while I was on the call, and just make sure things were in place because a lot of times these kids are kids whose backpacks are just explosively filled with things. With garbage, with old gym shorts, with old sandwiches that are rotting in the bottom of it, with papers that are and crammed in the nooks and crannies, with pencils in 15 different pockets, and stuff like that. So I wanted to be convinced that when he told me his backpack was in good shape that it was. So that’s about 5 minutes to make sure the backpack was in good shape. Along with the backpack, this was an additional 5 minutes, I had him pull out his folders and binders and make sure that things were in a good place. He had already done most that I just wanted to do a quick go-through. When I’m looking with folders and binders, I really want them to be very minimalist and very decluttered. I want them to get rid of papers they do not need to be managing, and folders. So I wanted it to be a very current folder and I wanted to be thin, and usually tell kids there should be about 5 to 10 papers at any given time in any given folder. If you’re only keeping the current stuff in there, and then the stuff that’s not current either gets recycled or gets archived.
So we went through the folders and the binder and stuff to make sure that was updated. Then we went through two of his inboxes. This took 20 minutes altogether, there were two accounts. One of the things nowadays since we have this thing called ’email,’ students need to learn, even in 8th-grade, need to learn how to manage an inbox. They really need to learn how to manage an inbox so that when they get into high school and college and they’re getting emails from professors or from teachers or things that are relevant to their schooling. They need to know how to manage those emails, reply to those emails, send emails proactively, how to read through them, how to archive them, how to delete them. They need to know how to manage an inbox. We spent a good bit of time on that. I usually have students who will do massive overhauls on inboxes. I have them unsubscribe from everything I can possibly get them to unsubscribe from, you know, these kids get alerts for everything, we turn them off. Why do they need YouTube alerts or Facebook alerts and get 50 emails on that when they also get the alerts on YouTube and Facebook, and whatever. So I usually try to convince them to get rid of those. You know, a lot of them are subscribed to things in their hobby areas where they’re getting coupons or updates or whatever. I try to get them to unsubscribe from those because I really want them not to have 30,000 e-mails when they’re 20 years old. So we spent quite a bit of time going through the inbox, replying to things that needed to be replied to. We also sent a couple of emails today. So we sent two advocacy emails to teachers. So we had checked the grades, I’ll get back to that because that was part of it today too, we check the grades, and then we sent out two emails. What I did on the first one is I wrote it for him real quick. I sent it to him, had him check it over, change it, and send it off to that teacher. Because I was having trouble getting him started. He was resistant to it, and then he did want to do the second one on his own we talked through what to say is pretty quick. I always keep these advocacy emails pretty quick: Hey teacher, you know, I got this thing due, I have this absence. I need to get the makeup work. Can you help me with that? Can we do it tomorrow? I want the kids to be really specific in the email about when they’re going to see the teacher and what they need and what they need clarity on. You’ve probably seen some of my videos about advocacy emails. But basically we needed to write two of these emails and get them out. He said, “Oh, well, I will wall talk to my teacher tomorrow,” and I’m like, “Just write the email, let’s get the ball rolling.” and they always do that. They say, “Oh, well, I’ll talk to my teacher in school. I’ll go to office hours. I’ll talk to them after class.” I’m like, “Yeah, you might, but let’s get the ball rolling because you probably won’t,” because that’s what I’ve learned in years of doing this, is the likelihood of them not seeing their teacher when they promised they will, is probably 90%, which means that there’s a 10% success rate. And these are arbitrary numbers, I’m just telling you my vibe. Usually about 10% of the time they’ll actually follow through with doing that. So that’s why I want the email to help with accountability.
Now to back up a step, like I said, we also check the online grades. The online grades took about 15 minutes. We did a screen share on Zoom. When I’m looking at his grades, I’m looking for outliers. I’m looking for missing assignments. I’m looking for incomplete assignments and I’m looking for patterns. Sometimes I see a pattern where kid has a bunch of hundreds on homework, and a bunch of 60%’s on tests. So, they may have a B in the class, but I notice that there was a pattern with tests. So you as a parent or teacher want to look for these patterns. If there’s a bunch of 60’s in tests, you know they’re not preparing for a test. So, you know, you need to address, how are we preparing for a test and how can that get better? If they have good test scores and a bunch of zeros on homeworks or a bunch of 50% on homeworks, or something like that then, you know you need to work on the homework. How do you improve the quality of that? If you see a bunch of zeros, you’re like, how do we work on getting those homeworks in? What’s the problem there? So when you’re looking at grades, you don’t care about the percentage, you care about the patterns because that gives you insights into something you can do, something you can do about.
And then we talked about his number one priority for today. Today happens to be a Sunday when I’m recording this video. I always ask kids, “What is your number one priority today regarding school?” I also asked him what his number one priority is today, since we spoke so much on school, I wanted to lighten it up. I also asked him, “What is your number one priority today for fun? And what is your number one priority today for yourself that’s not necessarily fun, but that’s good for you to do?” So that was three number one priorities I asked about. But, of course, the one I was mainly interested in was what is the number one priority that you need to worry about today with school. What I want them to do is get in the habit of doing their number one priority first to completion before other stuff. Generally, this is a good habit for them to get into as a successful student anyhow.
So that’s the gist of the whole call. Again, that particular call took about 45 minutes. And again, here’s what we went through. I’m going to go through this very quickly though now. (1) I built a rapport first to make him comfortable, make him ready to dive into the stuff. You’re not going to go straight into it, you’re going to warm them up and get into rapport and see how they’re doing. (2) talk about the backpack. The order doesn’t necessarily matter, this is just the order I did today. Two, we went over the backpack, (3) we went over to the folders and the binder. (4) We went over the email inboxes and updating that. (5) We went into the online grades. (6) We went into the advocacy letters after we knew what was going on with the grades. (7) We went into the number one priority. (8) I forgot number eight. We also went into the planner and updated the planner. As we were going through it, we would see things in the gradebook that were missing or incomplete or whatever. We would add those into the planner, so we had the planner out the whole time. I usually will ask them to open the planner, update it, and keep it out because it’s a living organism. You want to be using the planner. That’s your most important tool as a successful student.
So that was eight things that we did. And I just wanted, again, to talk through how I might do a coaching call in. This is pretty typical. Sometimes the last 15 minutes, sometimes the last an hour and a half, sometimes we’ll get started on something and I’ll say okay, “Why don’t you work on that particular thing for a half-hour and we’ll touch base in a half-hour,” because they need to get traction on something whether it’s an assignment, writing assignment, a reading assignment, a project, or massive planning, or massive overhaul of the backpack. I mean, there’s no reason for me to be on Skype with them if they’re overhauling their entire backpack and it takes a half-hour, but I can provide accountability and say, “In a half-hour, we’re going to touch bases do it right now. Does that sound good to you?” “Yes, it does.” “Okay, cool. Let’s do that.” So anyhow, that’s a pretty good framework for a lot of the coaching calls that we’re going to be doing.
Now, a thing that I didn’t mention that will often happen in my coaching calls is dealing with the emotional aspects of what’s going on with them. So my kids are resistant and they’re avoidant. They have excuses. They have patterns of thought that are limiting. Limiting beliefs, self-defeating beliefs, beliefs that they’re lazy, that they’re not motivated, that this or that. These are all emotional issues. Resistance is emotional. We have an emotional resistance to doing things we don’t want to do. When you struggle with executive function, one of the biggest things, maybe even the biggest things, is becoming comfortable with things that are uncomfortable. Like doing things you don’t feel like doing. Like homework or cleaning your room or writing papers or using a planner or getting started when you want to procrastinate. All of these things, overcoming these things, requires an ability to be uncomfortable and be okay with that and be able to do it anyhow for your own long-term well-being, when in the short time term, you feel like you’re being resistant. A lot of the time that I spend on calls is spent dealing with how to deal with your own resistance, your own stories, your own narratives, your own limiting beliefs, your own self-defeating beliefs. And how do we change that? So that today the kid is in a great place. He’s working through the stuff. He’s getting all A’s and one B. We didn’t need to spend any time doing that. But that is very common for me to spend a good bit of the call on chipping away, at working through those things. This is not at perfection game. You know, usually when you’re helping these kids change, you’re not making anything perfect. You’re just trying to get them on a different trajectory. You’re trying to get them on an upswing rather than a downswing in their life in school in attitudes and their belief systems, so that’s the goal. I mean, we want them to be happy and successful in life. So that’s what’s behind all the decisions that I’m making on a call. Anyhow, I hope that was helpful to you. If you haven’t subscribed to my YouTube Channel, please subscribe, it helps me and helps my channel grow, my blog grow, and helps get my message out, and I’d love it if you would share this with somebody that you care about and if you have any suggestions, or you want to write to me or anything, please go ahead. I’d love to hear from my readers. Have an awesome day, I will see you soon.
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