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Case Study: Top of the Class

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A Foundation for Success

Isikkent has made a significant investment of time and money in coaching with the full support of leading school administrators, allocating 24 percent of the school’s professional development budget for coach training for teachers. Since the school implemented coaching in 2009, more than 40 teachers have voluntarily completed an ICF Accredited Coach Training Program. All of Isikkent’s teachers and support staff have completed several hours of coach-specific training in order to better understand and support the school’s coaching culture, and coach training is integrated into Isikkent’s new-teacher orientation. Faculty members are encouraged to apply their coaching skills to interactions with students, parents and colleagues. Isikkent’s coaching committee, established by coach-teachers in the school’s first graduating coach-training class, helped develop an infrastructure for the program. In addition to adapting the ICF Code of Ethics to form a cornerstone of the school’s culture, committee members revised commonly used coaching questions to suit different age groups. The coach-teachers collaborated with members of Isikkent’s information technology department to develop an electronic coaching log that they could use to document their coaching sessions while ensuring 100-percent confidentiality, and they also developed an initiative to market coaching to Isikkent students, teachers and parents, ensuring that it would be perceived as a positive—not remedial—intervention from the outset. As a result, when Isikkent’s corps of coach-teachers began providing services, they did so with the full buy-in of the school community.

Unlocking New Approaches

Coaching is available to anyone in the Isikkent community who wants it. The program is closely aligned with Isikkent’s guidance services, and with a parent’s permission, students may schedule sessions with coach-teachers. Topics covered during coaching engagements have included goal-setting, planning for the future, interpersonal communication and conflict resolution. The coach-teachers also coach Isikkent teachers and parents on a voluntary basis, and parents have the opportunity to learn coaching skills through school-provided Parent Effectiveness Training courses.

Isikkent’s coaching culture has brought the school closer to its goal of achieving International Baccalaureate accreditation by fostering traits aligned with the IB Learner Profile, such as curiosity, open-mindedness and compassion. A video released by Isikkent Schools shows these traits at work, as a group of young students work together—with coach-like support from their teacher—to find out why a conch shell makes a sound when held up to the ear. (Watch the video here.)

School leaders have found that coaching skills can even be applied to Isikkent’s youngest citizens, the three- and four-year-old students enrolled in the school’s Early Learning Center. During Isikkent’s Prism Award interview, school officials told the story of an ELC student who would wander out of the classroom without permission during the school day. Using skills acquired in coach-specific training, including powerful questioning, the teacher was able to find out the cause of this behavior (simply, the student said he’d forget that he needed to stay put), articulate her own feelings about the behavior (“When you leave the classroom and I can’t find you, I feel sad and scared”), and provide support for a student-driven solution (the student drew a picture of a door with a sad-looking teacher next to it and hung it by the classroom door as a reminder to himself).

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