Coaching and Mentoring: Training Coaches

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There are three key elements of practice for professionals working with mentors and coaches: Setting expectations, training and supervision.

Setting Expectations

Establishing clear expectations is important for all involved in the coach/mentor process. A job description (see sample in To Learn More) or work contract can help the mentors to understand the roles they will play. 

General expectations might include:

  1. The number of hours they will commit to the work
  2. Details about whether this is a paid or volunteer position
  3. Where and how often they will meet with students
  4. Some of the “do’s and don’ts” of mentoring.


Educational Coaches/Mentors need orientation as well as on-going training to be effective.  Coach/mentor orientation can be used to establish clear expectations and lay out the philosophy of the coach/mentor program.

Orientation topics might include:

  1. Differences between high school and college
  2. Role of the coach/mentor
  3. Natural and faded support
  4. Self determination in college
  5. People First Language

Ongoing training topics might include more specific strategies for fading support, universal design strategies, disability services, self-advocacy in specific settings, etc. Some campuses have weekly group meetings with lunch, while others meet on an individual basis. Case studies have also been helpful to problem-solve and role-play delicate situations as they arise on campus.


Supervision is key to retaining coaches/mentors and increasing student independence. Mentors may be struggling themselves personally or academically, so it is important to check in with them. Some supervisors have had mentors journal about their experiences, others have used email or texting to check-in with the mentors.

Many, if not all, of the supervision issues can also be addressed by establishing clear expectations. It is also useful to create a handbook with key phone numbers, dates, and resources for both students and coaches/mentors. 

Guide created by Dr. Missy Jones of Northern Kentucky University that is used at that university to train peer mentors.  Includes information about getting started, and responsibilities of mentors and mentees. Emphasizes the importance of developing an equal power relationship...Read more

Description of the mentoring program at The College of New Jersey's Career and Community Studies Program for students with intellectual disabilities. Includes the structure, responsibilities, sample activities, training, and FAQs.

 Read more

A mentor handbook from Camden County College, Garden State Pathways Program.Read more

Includes a description of the two day orientation for mentors at the University of Vermont. Read more

A sample job description that can be modified by programs seeking to hire staff to act as academic and campus support to students in their program.Read more