What: Coaching in groups for dance students at Northern School of Contemporary Dance as part of their Healthy Dancer day. Three session were themed around life/work balance and two around career giving them an opportunity to choose the subject most relevant to them.
Where: NSCD When: 26 April 2013 10-3 pm
Who: Students from foundation to post-graduate courses at NSCD. I offered five sessions of 45 minutes with a maximum of 15 students per group.
This is the blurb for the career session (I did a similar one for the life/work balance one) that I sent out in advance to the student who wanted to attend:
Each student is asked to bring with them one written statement beginning with: “I would like to… but…” (Example: “I would like to get in to teaching dance but I don’t know where to start.”). These statements should reflect your own thoughts about your career prospects and they will be the starting point for the session. We will use them in the group with the aim to find ways of making a smoother transition to life after college. Often solutions appear as we verbalise thoughts and share them with others.
The pie chart above represents how I planned the 45 minute session.
The orange ones were led by me. The green ones pair work and the pale blue group coaching.
'I would like to... but...'
After introducing the session I got the students to think (or re-think) the statements I had proposed them to bring to the session beginning with 'I would like to... but...'. They were going to this by talking to a partner about what was on their mind within the given subject of the session. Getting them to talk for just a few minutes helped them clarify what they wanted the statement to say. They had to boil this down to exactly one sentence capturing how they felt. They each wrote this on a slip of paper.
They all put the slip of paper on a shared table and following had two minutes to read all the other statements. The challenge from here was for the group to agree on two statements that they identified with or that they felt encompassed all the others. These were going to be the starting points for the group coaching part.
The owners of these two statements then agreed on who were to go first. Before beginning the actual group coaching I explained the rules of group coaching and how to ask open questions. The core activity when coaching is to listen actively and 'hold space' -meaning watching the coachee and giving them full attention. It's important not to interrupt the them, give advice or try to resolve their issue. This encourages the coachee to find answers for themselves. Asking questions is for when the coachee is ready for it and as much as possible the questions are kept open and unambiguous. Here are some of the questions I handed out to the students to use as coaching questions:
- What’s the ideal outcome?
- What if there were no limits?
- What will it look like if you achieve your goal?
- How would you like it to be?
- Who could help you with this?
- What’s stopping you from doing ...?
- What impact is this having on you?
The next stage was the main chunk of the session where I let myself slide in the background and only intervened when a few finishing questions were necessary. I was merely facilitating this part and the students had the responsibility of 'holding space' and honoring the code of asking questions and listening together. The fact that the group coaching part was student-led was really important for how the they would experience the process. By the end of each coaching part the students that had been coaching got the opportunity to share -in one sentence- any thoughts or suggestions of encouragement that they wanted the coachee to hear.
The final part of the 45 minute session was giving each student time to reflect on and express in short what they would take away from the session.
The next post will be about my yoga workshop at Yoga Kula in May 2013.