Coaching and Mentoring: Supporting Faculty

Think College Learn

Having a coach or mentor attend a course with a student with ID can be a new experience for faculty, and there will be questions. Faculty often ask “How do I work with a student who has an educational coach?” First, emphasize that the instructor should have the same academic and behavioral expectations for all the students in the course, including students who have educational coaches. In addition, the student and the coach/mentor should meet with each professor before the semester begins to discuss how the coach will support the student to participate in his or her course.

Some helpful tips to clarify the role of the coach/mentor:

  1. Ask the instructor to direct all questions and communication to the student, rather than the coach/mentor.
  2. Explain that in-class supports from the coach/mentor will vary, but might include note-taking, prompting, re-explaining, and encouraging participation. The coach/mentor will work with the student, instructor and program coordinator to make sure the supports are appropriate.
  3. ALWAYS provide faculty with a name and number to contact if they have any questions.
  4. Communicate with the faculty throughout the semester to monitor the coaching/mentoring experience in the classroom.

Some coaches/mentors have also been able to assist faculty in understanding principles of universal course design and to apply them to the specific course material. It is a win-win situation when the coach can support the student AND provide tools to help all the students in the course.

Just like faculty, campus staff also need to be educated about the program, the students, and the specific roles of coaches and mentors. Supportive staff can often be instrumental to helping the coaches/mentors fade support while increasing student independence. For example, an athletic trainer may see a coach/mentor helping a student in the gym and offer to help the next time the student comes to exercise. The best advice for program coordinators is to communicate with the campus community about the role of the coaches/mentors; the more the campus is aware about the goals of the program, the more they can help to create an inclusive community.