It was very nerve-wracking. Here I was, in front of a group of 45 pupils, (aged 9-10 years old) and I had to entertain them for the next hour. I was in a primary school pioneering a coaching skills programme with children. This was the first step – an introduction to coaching skills. We (myself and Liz, the HLTA) wanted to identify half a half dozen children with an aptitude for coaching for the next stage of the project.
Standing in front of these children was certainly out of my comfort zone. I am very happy when delivering to a group of heads, teachers and/or TA’s. This is what I do for a living. Facing this group of children was stepping into my ‘stretch’ zone. As I stood in front of this group it felt as though I was in charge of 45 wriggling puppies. The energy in the room was palpable. How would we maintain order? How would we keep them interested? At this point my ‘respect’ levels for teachers rocketed. This is what they have to do every day of the week.
Liz, the HLTA, took all of this in her stride; she was completely at ease. As we started to deliver the session I too began to relax and enjoy the process. The children learnt the differences between a ‘good coach’ and a ‘bad coach.’ They took part in exercises and activities and all engaged in the session. It was invigorating, challenging and fun.
At the end of the session about half of the children expressed real interest in becoming a school coach. They took home a letter and a form to fill in. The next stage was to whittle down these applicants to half a dozen. To do this decided to have an individual chat with the children. It was a kind of ‘interview’.
This was a very serious process for the children. They all approached it with a great deal of maturity. We did the interviews in the head’s office- the children sat on the headteacher’s swivel chair (which they loved) and Liz and I asked them some questions.
Every child we interviewed was amazing. I immediately felt concerned about turning any of them down. They were articulate and thoughtful in their answers. They understood the need for trust and for being supportive. We knew we were going to be able to select a quality school coaches.
We now have a cohort of 6 coaches (and one reserve). The next stage of this programme is in the autumn term. There will be some further skills training before they meet their Year 2/3 ‘coachees’ (learners). Liz and I are excited to be on a learning curve as well. This project is evolving and we are creating and adapting it as we move along. I can’t wait to see these young coaches in action. I am so thrilled that they will be learning skills that will enhance communication throughout their lives.