Vivian M. De La Cruz from the University Kore in Italy tells us about her experience on the course: Your students today…Leaders tomorrow – Coaching Techniques for Language Teachers to Enhance Teenagers’ 21st Century Competencies.
In Vivian’s words…
From December 2019 to February 2020, in the midst of lockdown in Italy due to the Covid-19 pandemic, a window into the future of language teaching, was opened for me. As a participant in the pilot course “Your students today…Leaders tomorrow”, taught by Palmina La Rosa, I was introduced to the novel approach of applying coaching techniques to the teaching of foreign languages.
The objectives of the course are ambitious: to provide foreign language teachers with the tools to support their students in acquiring important 21st century life skills such as how to work in teams, how to problem solve, think critically as well as creatively, and how to communicate effectively.
How coaching techniques can change classroom dynamics
By participating in the pilot course, I have learned that using coaching techniques in the classroom presents opportunities for deepening self-reflection and decision making based on improved self knowledge. In the language learning classroom, this might mean students reflecting on their language needs, what their objectives are, and how to reach them through concrete, explicitly articulated action steps planned out with the teacher/coach’s assistance.
I find this particularly powerful in enabling students to think “outside the boxes” that standard education often forces upon them, and their teachers. Students become protagonists in their own learning processes, in that the teacher/coach approach encourages student “ownership” of roles and responsibilities in team project work, for example.
Students are encouraged and guided in finding their own voice, choosing the roles they are to play based on initial reflections on their strengths and desired individual and group outcomes. The teacher/coach steps away from always being the one in charge of interaction, and instead embraces the role of facilitator, or as I like to see it, that of a special type of orchestra conductor, that invites each and every student to play his or own unique song in harmony with the rest of the group.
How the course will change my teaching
The course has helped raise my awareness on how to help my students set and track their goals more effectively, and on how I could do the same with my own personal and professional goals.
In particular, I appreciated the focus on how to guide students in discovering and capitalizing on their strengths, which in a sense, is the other side of the goal setting coin. It’s not only dreaming about a goal, but also reflecting on and evaluating what our strengths are, and how we can apply those strengths in reaching our goals, that can often make the difference! It might even mean discovering how to let a goal go and set another, in order to take off in another promising direction.
It is this reflective, growth mindset, that I will implement and try to facilitate in my university English language classrooms this next academic year. I am confident that using the coaching techniques I learned throughout the course will give me the chance to potentiate student motivation and commitment to their learning process. I believe that I will be better able to help my students define their language learning goals in clear, measurable steps, in ways that will be challenging yet achievable.
Many thanks to Palmina La Rosa for having inspired me with her course!