On Becoming an Academic Coach
Hello, and welcome back to A B Ready.com, a website dedicated to preparing high school students to do college-level work so they can avoid taking remedial courses in college.
As an adult, you are here at A B Ready.com because you want to become an Academic Coach in order to help an adolescent prepare for her or his future. A B Ready.com has the tools and the resources you need to be as effective an Academic Coach as you can be. You are probably a parent or guardian, or you may be a relative, a teacher, or a trusted friend of the family. You are here either, in the one case, because you want to help an adolescent experience greater success in school, or, in the second case, because an adolescent who has asked you to become his or her Academic Coach.
In the first case, you need to encourage the adolescent to work with you using the A B Ready materials.
Watch the “Introducing A B Ready to Students” video found on the homepage of this A B Ready.com with the adolescent. Now, here is a tip about using videos as a conversation starter: use the “pause” icon to stop the video at any point to check the adolescent’s understanding of what was just said on the video. You see, the most important part of this process is the conversation you and the adolescent have together. You want to check the adolescent’s comprehension as well as offer the adolescent an opportunity for self-expression. For example, in that introductory video on A B Ready, I ask the adolescent, “Do you want to go to college?” Obviously, I can’t hear her or his answer, but you can. By pausing the video, you can listen to the adolescent’s answer which may be “yes,” “no,” or “I don’t know.” If the answer is “yes,” then you can continue with the video. If the answer is either, “No,” or “I don’t know,” then you say, “OK, but wouldn’t it be a good idea to be ready to go to college in case you change your mind later on? You want to keep your options open for that possibility, don’t you?” If the adolescent sees you point, then you continue with the video. But if the adolescent insists on showing no interest in post-secondary education, then you may want to ask how he or she views his or her future plans after high school. Whatever those plans are, having a solid educational foundation in high school will be very useful. By the way, you can see how an Academic Coach needs a lot of patience and persistence in dealing with a reluctant adolescent. Remember, we are the adults; we don’t give up on kids. Here are two excellent resources to help you understand adolescents:
- the book, The Teenage Brain by Frances E. Jensen, a neuroscientist who wrote this book as a survival guide for parents. See if it is available in your local library.
- a website, Empowering Parents, a blog with helpful ideas on how to deal with difficult children. If you are a parent or guardian, remember that you always have the power to set limits and consequences as needed to encourage the adolescent. Even if you are not the parent, you can still set reasonable expectations. Also, check out my blog on this website for more ideas.
Once you have convinced the adolescent to work through the A B Ready materials with you, the next step is to look at the adolescent’s grades. You do this by going online to the school’s website to see the latest posting of grades. If there are C’s and D’s, then start by watching the five-video series on the A B Ready Code. If the adolescent is already earning A’s and B’s in rigorous classes, then proceed to the next step.
Start watching and discussing the second series of video about the “Meaning of…” certain life issues facing adolescents now and in the future. These videos may provide even more incentive to earning only A’s and B’s in rigorous classes. Remember the main benefit of these videos is as conversation starters. By having meaningful topics to discuss, you increase the adolescent’s ability to listen and to express her or himself.
Now, in the second case, if an adolescent has asked you to be his or her Academic Coach, you are already working with a motivated student. Use any of the videos as needed to help the student keep focused on his or her future.
Let me add a couple of comments about your time commitment for being an Academic Coach. First, as suggested in the second video on the A B Ready Code, checking and recording grades twice a week, along with helping the adolescent to make a plan on improving her or his performance would take about 15 minutes each time. Second, watching and discussing one of the A B Ready videos would take 30 minutes once a week. The total time commitment comes to one hour each week. I know how busy people are today, but isn’t that a small price to pay if it can prepare a student to do college-level work by the time he or she graduates from high school so that the student can avoid having to for and take remedial courses in college?
So, there you have it. Three steps to helping adolescents prepare for their future by experiencing greater success in school. By all of us working together, we can make it happen.