“I have got a C grade and I think it is good for me. To get a B is possible and I had done it. But it is too much work, and I must get out of my comfort zone for that B” This was the conversation I had with an interesting student, Hafiz, on our first academic coaching session.

My judgemental brain said that this student is a failure, just having the minimum competence to clear the program and become a professional. But the University and society at large accepts this status. However, the conversation didn’t stop there. We explored the expectations of Hafiz. We realized that Hafiz didn’t want a scrape through, he wanted to be the best possible. Just that, it was way too much to come out of his ‘comfort zone’. My self-talk again kicked in, is Hafiz a failure based on his expectations. No, he is not! Hafiz is just short of his expectations. This was an excellent coaching moment for me to explore and show Hafiz what he wants and what he can do.

The Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada have developed a coaching model to support resident learning. The teacher/clinician becomes a coach and develops the resident to reach his/her expectations. The observations and assessments of the resident in the workplace are taken as learning events for a coaching conversation. These conversations are carried out without any prejudice or pre-conceived notions but primarily to provide feedback on the performance of the resident to the set expectations.

Many universities use workplace-based assessments to be used as triggers for a ‘coaching in the moment’ conversations. The Liftupp assessment and development software originally developed by University of Liverpool uses a 6 point scale of Development Indicators on the level of independence to do a clinical procedure. The score from this assessment tool becomes a trigger for a short coaching conversation between the supervisor and the student to drive the student towards the set expectations. Though the individual low stake data point from these assessments lead to decision making on the progress, these are primarily designed to create an oppurtunity for a learning conversation.

How does your school support student development through learning/coaching conversations? Put in as comments.