What is an academic coach?
Do you know what an academic coach is and how one could help your child? With 25% of GCSE students using private tutors, the way that an academic coach can help with GCSE and A-Level studies is over-looked by many (most people who like my Facebook page hadn't heard of academic coaches until they came across me!).
In this post I'm going to answer these questions:
- What is an academic coach?
- What does an academic coach do?
- What makes a good academic coach?
- Why would you need an academic coach?
- How do you find an academic coach?
- What results can you expect from working with an academic coach?
What is an academic coach?
Even if you've never heard of an academic coach before, you've probably heard of a sports coach. I googled ‘What does a sports coach do?' and this was the top result:
Sports coaches assist athletes in developing to their full potential. They are responsible for training athletes in a sport by analyzing their performances, instructing in relevant skills and by providing encouragement. But you are also responsible for the guidance of the athlete in life and their chosen sport. Find the full article here.
I think this sums it up beautifully. This is my definition of an academic coach:
An academic coach helps students to develop to their full potential. They are responsible for preparing students for exam success by instructing them in study skills, developing a positive mindset, providing encouragement, unlocking their motivation, analyzing their performances in assignments, coursework, tests and exams and helping them to develop a deep understanding of how they learn best. An academic coach also supports a student with life challenges that affect their academic performance.
What does an academic coach do?
Academic coaches work 1:1 with students to understand the things that are getting in the way of their academic success, identify which skills they need to develop, anticipate and manage challenges and priorities and stay cheerful and motivated as they work towards their exams.
This is what my team and I will typically do when working with a student.
Before we start working with a student
We always have a conversation with the family before agreeing to work with a student so that we can understand the challenges that the student, parents and family as a whole are facing. This will give us a good idea about whether we can help the student. In most cases, we can! It also gives us a good idea of where to start in our first proper coaching session.
First coaching call
The first coaching call is usually up to an hour long. This enables us to:
- Try to better understand the challenges the student is facing.
- Help put in place some quick wins to help them start feeling better and doing better.
- Work on their motivation. This is a really good way to get to know a student better and it leaves the student feeling more positive about their future and their desire to work towards it.
Next 5-6 calls
On subsequent calls we:
- Continue to work on the challenges the student has highlighted.
- Teach them study skills to help them be more effective students. These include time management strategies, how to avoid and overcome distractions, how to balance study and time-off, how to revise effectively and the development of good and healthy study habits
- Review, adapt and tweak things we've already put in place
- Anticipate, plan for and cope with future challenges e.g. how to cope with revision for mocks and coursework deadlines at around the same time.
On further calls your academic coach will continue to:
- Support you with challenges that you face
- Review, adapt and tweak things you've already put in place to make them work even better
- Anticipate challenges and cope with crunch points
- In some cases, work on academic work with you giving feedback and guidance e.g. coursework or practice papers
We work exclusively online, which means we can work with people anywhere in the world. It also means no precious time is wasted travelling to meet your academic coach.
What makes a good academic coach?
A good academic coach will:
- Have direct personal experience of going through the exams process so that they can really empathise with what you're going through
- Have a deep insight into what succeeding academically takes – this is through both their experience as a student, but also their experience as either a tutor or a teacher
- A large bank of strategies to deal with the typical issues and problems that GCSE and A-Level students face including lack of motivation, procrastination, poor organisational and time management skills, lack of confidence and not knowing how to revise (to name but a few!)
- Empathy, an ability to develop rapport with reluctant or anxious teenagers, listening skills and an intuitive sense of what will help a student move forward the fastest are also essential
All of the coaches on my team have all of the above. They also have different attributes and experiences which makes each one better able to work with different types of student. For example, Sarah has both dyslexia and dyscalculia and was a Youth Worker before becoming a teacher. This means she has great insight into both helping disengaged students (from her youth work) and how to succeed academically despite having learning differences. Carolyn trained as a primary school teacher and now works in middle schools which means she's perfectly placed to work with younger students. But, she has also supported her sons through the education system so has an insight into the parents' perspective as well. Keerti is a Cambridge psychology graduate and experienced science tutor so understands the challenges of reaching the highest levels of achievement as well as the psychological aspects of academic success. All of them are able to help any student improve their academic performance, through the methodology I have trained them in, but they also have attributes that make them more able to support specific types of students.
How do you find an academic coach for your child?
If you've got this far through this blog post, you might be wondering how to find an academic coach for your child.
Well, you've hit the jackpot! Academic coaching is not nearly as pervasive as private tutoring, but my team and I are able to offer you academic coaching. We offer various different packages depending on your needs. With all of these packages you also get access to The Extraordinaries Club, my online hub for parents and students which contains the 10 core modules teaching my study skills methodology as well as masterclasses from experts on how to revise the core subjects.
- Weekly 1:1 academic coaching – this is for students who need the most support and accountability. They are probably very stressed or anxious, or really struggling with their learning. They need someone to guide them step-by-step through the process.
- Monthly 1:1 academic coaching – this is for students who are a bit more independent and are able to implement the strategies they learn from The Extraordinaries Club pretty much on their own, but would like 1:1 input to help them prioritise and stay accountable to doing and implementing the modules in the club
- A six-session package of 1:1 academic coaching – this is for people who need a bit of a kick-start with their studies (if taken across six weeks) or people who just need occasional support and input from an academic coach
Or, your family can join The Extraordinaries Club and take advantage of the weekly group coaching calls and parents can be members of our exclusive, parents only Facebook group to ask questions and get advice and input.
What results can you expect from academic coaching?
Typical results include:
- Reduced stress and anxiety – one mum commented, “You seem to have done miracles for her and my stress levels!”
- Better planning and organisational skills – all students learn to manage their time better, reduce distractions and plan better for up-coming challenges.
- Greater insight into how a student learns best, with more effective revision as a result – for example, a year 9 student who couldn't sit still and concentrate learned how to harness is energy to study in a way that worked for him
- Increased confidence in academic abilities – one sixth form student, who had very slow processing issues, learned to believe in herself and her abilities and has now gone to university to study Creative Writing
- Better than expected academic results – my first client achieved 10A*s and 2 As at GCSE and another achieved all A*s / 9s apart from one 8
I have been surprised that many of the families who work with us are much less focused on academic results than they are on the process of studying – so they want their children to be helped with managing stress levels, how to actually study and how to improve their time management and organisational skills.
Are you ready to work with an academic coach on my team?
We'd be thrilled and delighted to work with you to make this academic year a lot less stressful and a great deal more successful for your whole family. To get started, check out the current options and take the next steps highlighted on our academic coaching page.
I'm excited to support you on this journey!