How can we create a deep relationships in our 1-to-1 sessions with students that feel authentic and true to ourselves, especially in a virtual environment? In this week’s video, we’re going to dive into how to share the best of yourself with your students in a way that unlocks the best in them. 

As an academic coach who has worked with hundreds of educators transitioning into coaching or into working one-on-one with students, I have witnessed the unlocking of personalities through the Anti-Boring Toolkit. One of the pleasures of my work is watching people grow over time, and in this video, I want to share with you three specific skills that we work on in my Anti-Boring Educators Club! 

These three skills all start with the letter “B:”

  • BODY 

In the video below, we’ll start by unpacking the qualities you BELIEVE you are “supposed to” bring to your work as as an educator and identify if those beliefs align with your authentic self. We’ll then transition to discussing BODY and how we can use our full selves to honor ourselves and our beliefs, especially in a virtual environment. Finally, we’ll focus on BELONGING and how to validate students’ voices in our work. 

So, if you’re ready to unlock the best in yourself and your students, grab a notepad and pen and join me for this informative and insightful video!

You can click below to watch the video … or continue reading for the transcript.

How do you take the best of yourself and deliver it to students in a way that unlocks the best of themselves, and do all of that as a virtual academic coach, largely working on Zoom? That’s what we’re going to talk about in this video today. Let’s dig in.

So, here’s the deal, I work with hundreds of educators who are transitioning into an academic coaching practice, or who work within a school environment, and work one-to-one with students or one-to-small-group to help unlock students’ skills. One of the pleasures of my work is watching folks grow over time. I have a community, and I invite people who want to really dig into the anti-boring toolkit, and really dig in to how to be excellent academic coaches for students to join that community and stay with me for a minimum of a year so we can learn a bunch of tools and practice those tools together. And one of the beauties I get to witness is the unlocking of people’s personalities.

They start the coaching program, often in their head, trying to get everything right. Perfectionism is a big issue with people who are attracted to my program, maybe it’s an issue with educators in general, I don’t know. But we have to unlearn some perfectionism. And as we unlearn it, we start relaxing into ourselves more. As I was thinking about this video today, I was realizing there are actually three specific things that I notice we work on through the course of the year in my anti boring educators club, and I want to gift these three things to you here.

So let’s look at these three skills, because you can start practicing them today, if you like. And if you’re a member of my community, you may not realize we’ve been working on these three things–but we have.

  1. Beliefs
    We start unpacking:
    • What are the beliefs you come into this work as an academic coach with?
    • How do you think you’re supposed to act with students?
    • What have you inherited from your own academic experiences about the way the relationship between educator and student should be…and whether the beliefs you’ve inherited are the actual beliefs you want to have?

    And often, in our community calls, we start unpacking the beliefs inherent in the questions folks ask us as academic coaches. For example, I often get questions like, “how do you get a student to be more motivated?” or “how do you get a student to study more effectively?” “How do you get a student to follow through with…?” Now, notice, those seem like fine questions, right?

    But, actually, when you pay attention to the power dynamic that’s implicit in those words, there’s force, there’s power, there’s an expectation that we’re trying to get the student to submit to whatever we think is best for them. In this case, it’s being more motivated, perhaps. So when I notice beliefs like that running in the background of the questions that educators inside my community calls ask, we’re able to gently notice, “Oh, wow! There is a belief there that I can look at more closely–and make sure it’s a belief I really want to have.”

    Often, once we make those beliefs visible, we realize, “Oh, gosh, actually, my true values are in a different place than the beliefs I inherited from the teaching, or the parenting, or whatever that I’ve done in my previous career.” That is a fascinating thing! So uncovering your beliefs is the first of three Bs that I recommend if you’re wanting to unlock your own true self, so that, more importantly, you can unlock students’ authentic selves.
  2. Body
    What is your body doing during coaching sessions? This is especially important when so many of us are coaching on Zoom these days. But it’s also important if you’re seeing students in person. How does your body accidentally communicate some of the outdated beliefs that you might be coming into coaching with?

    Now, I want you to notice in all my videos, and if you ever come to any of my calls, you’ll see I’m moving a lot, right? I am very conscious that I don’t want to be a still, talking head sharing only from my neck up. That would limit my own expressiveness. And it would communicate to the student that not all of them is welcome here, either.

    I’m not saying every person should be as lively as I am! I get it–I am an outlier, as far as my energy is concerned. But especially virtually, make sure you are sitting in such a way that you have more range of movement, so you can come closer to the camera or farther away from the camera, or move side to side. That kind of moving about suggests that you are a 3-D person inside a 3-D space. And it helps students feel more comfortable to be themselves in front of the camera, as well.

    All of this applies if you’re inside an office or a classroom, too! The more you move around, the more you surprise students with what your body is doing, the better. Again, I get that I’m an outlier, and you might not want to do this, but I’m just remembering that the other day, I was doing a presentation at a school and I was realizing that I had been talking for a long time. We had been very heady. I saw this was an opportunity to talk about the role the body plays in learning. I ended up surprising everybody by doing one of those heel clicks in the air–you know, you put one leg up and you click your feel together, kinda like Dick VanDyke in Mary Poppins. It sort of surprised and shocked everybody, and they laughed. You don’t have to use big movements like this, but I’m trying to show that I have found ways to be my fullest self with my body, both inside Zoom, as well as in walled environments. That really helps students relax and feel permission to be themselves, too.
  3. Belonging
    To what extent do you include the student in decision-making about them?

    Now, some of you might see this question and think it’s just a little like, “Duh, if you’re coaching, don’t you include the student?” But here’s the thing: I noticed by the questions people ask in our anti-boring educators calls when they’re new in the community, they often forget that the student is a great source of information about the student. And when educators ask me questions, I’ll often say, “Well, did you did you ask the student what their preference is?” People often respond, “Oh, no, I forgot.”

    Often this means we’ve uncovered a belief that adults make better decisions for kids than kids can make for themselves. Or if we’re working with adult students, that teachers make better decisions for students than students can make for themselves. I truly believe if we’re honest, we have that belief inside of us. And if we do, we then often leave students out of really crucial decisions related to their interests, related to their academic habits, and related to their well-being.

    So this is just a gentle reminder to let the student belong. Never make a decision that involves them without at least finding out what their preferences are, how it lands with them. If you’re tempted to go to the parent first, sometimes it’s really good to get the parent’s idea, but also make sure you know what the student’s idea is, too.

    Okay pop quiz before we go: What are the three B’s? (I’m quizzing myself, too–good retrieval practice!) Belief, body, belonging. Work on those three things, and I promise you’ll feel more and more yourself during your academic coaching sessions with students. I also promise you’ll bring out your students’ real selves, too, because you’re modeling it so well yourself.

    Wait…you didn’t think I’d close without offering you a free gift, did you? Of course I wouldn’t! Check out the brand-new, free gift I have made for educators who are interested in growing their skills as an academic coach. You might be somebody who works one-to-one with students in coaching situations, or you might be a teacher who’s thinking, “You know, I could be a better teacher, if I also learned how to be a coach.” Click this link to find out my secrets to how to unlock the best in students and the best in yourself as an academic coach.

    Take care y’all!