When I decided to start Seattle Success Coaching, I was filled with conflicting thoughts--I love students and this work, but am I good enough? Will people understand the difference between tutoring and coaching? How are other people with their students? How do I make substantial gains with my students knowing that for most of them, there is a confidence issue that goes along with the study skills and life hacks we implement? I have sessions where I leave feeling energized, helpful, and grateful that I am finally doing what I have always wanted to do--and then I have sessions where I feel discouraged or frustrated and self-doubt starts to creep into my mind.
Tonight, I was camped at a table in a Starbucks waiting for one of my students and was sitting next to other tutors. This allowed me, for the first time really, to listen in to a whole session. I completely understand that people have their own styles and ways of doing things (and I am not a good fit for everyone--I get that), but I was really surprised to hear that most of the "help" the students were getting, was actually just answers that were fed to them. The students weren't doing much of their own thinking or analysis. I heard one tutor telling the student, word-for-word what to write in their essay. I immediately felt that maybe I am too hard on my students. I talk about concepts and ask them their thoughts--and I will ask probing questions and push their thinking--but I would never tell them what to write or what the topic of their essay should be. I listened feeling inadequate as the student took an essay with a failing grade and inserted words above their vocabulary level to turn it into a masterpiece and it hit me that I am REALLY PROUD OF THE WAY I WORK WITH STUDENTS! I want my students to be who they are; the voice in their essays should be THEIRS, and I want them to learn how to think and do their own work so that in the future, that is a skill they have forever. These tutors might help them get their grades up for a bit, but I already know that I can do the homework; I need to teach my STUDENTS how to do it so that when I'm not around, they can keep performing that well on their own.
It's the long game. Coaching takes longer to show results and to completely incorporate, but when they do it is more sustainable and long-lasting. I love figuring out things alongside my students and celebrate their achievements with such genuine happiness because I know the work that the accomplishment required--no freebies and no shortcuts. Thinking about this, I picture one of my students who is doing phenomenally well and how pointing out her successes is my new favorite hobby. I recognize her work and effort and she always thanks me (or the parents thank me) and that feels great, but SHE is the one doing the work; she is the one doing the thinking; and she's the one writing the essays.
What do you think about the balance between helping and doing for students?