Coaching and Mentoring: Training Coaches
There are three key elements of practice for professionals working with mentors and coaches: Setting expectations, training and supervision.
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:
- The number of hours they will commit to the work
- Details about whether this is a paid or volunteer position
- Where and how often they will meet with students
- 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:
- Differences between high school and college
- Role of the coach/mentor
- Natural and faded support
- Self determination in college
- 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.