Coaching and Mentoring: Supporting Students

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A successful student-coach relationship is established when there are clear expectations. Challenges can arise in areas when there is confusion about roles and responsibilities, knowing how to adjust the intensity of support, and when to adjust support. Use an individuaized agreement between the student and the coach/mentor (see sidebar) to help to prepare for this important partnership and to put in writing the student's responsibilities and outline when they may need support from the coach/mentor.  Using this agreement will allow the student with disabilities to establish what they need assistance with and what they do not.  It helps to assure that the coach/mentor is not providing more help than is necessary or wanted.

Some tips for establishing and using the Coach/Student agreement:

  1. Meet regularly to go over the details of the agreement.
  2. For students, the agreement is a good way to break the ice with new educational coaches/mentors. It can be helpful in establishing a new working relationship.
  3. For educational coaches/mentors, the agreement can be helpful for understanding what is expected of them and what their role is.
  4. For educational coaches/mentors who support more than one student, the agreement is a good way to see how varied support can be, since every student’s needs at college are different.

The agreement can help parents and others understand the role of a mentor/coach in college and how it differs from the paraprofessional support the student may have had in high school.  Unlike the paraprofessional role that may be determined by an IEP or by others, the Educational Coach/Student Agreement empowers the student to talk about what supports they need and want, and how the coach/mentor should provide them.

To Learn More: Read the Think College Insight Brief  about developing a support plan for college, which includes more detail on how to use the Educational Coach/Student Agreement.

A successful student/mentor partnership can truly help college students thrive.

To Learn More: 

This video shares some of the ways educational coaches/mentors can support the activities of college students with intellectual disability.Read more

This chart can be used by a student and their educational coach to decide areas where students will need help, and what type of support an educational coach can provide for each area of need.Read more

Think College Insight Brief #4 provides an overview of the supported education model and some of the challenges associated with using educational coaches in college. Explains how to use the Student/Coach Agreement Form.Read more