How does technology mediate what it means to evolve as human? How does technology help students to access professional coaching, despite challenges such as the COVID pandemic, lack of time and finances, and the need to self-reflect in our own time, in the comfort and privacy of our home?
“Coaching for Growth” was a pilot project designed and implemented by Maja Skalar, an OSUN Secretariat Officer and a professional coach, as an experiment of introducing professional coaching into university settings in an accessible, bite-sized, and self-paced online format.
It was part of the Recharge Season at CEU in November 2023.
Professional coaching is about achieving goals, overcoming obstacles, and making changes or shifts in all the important areas of our lives. Online professioal coaching has been gaining interest especially due to the pandemic. The learning that occurs during professioal coaching is informal, skills-based, and experiential (Griffiths, 2005). Self-reflection and storytelling are emerging as powerful professional coaching techniques - first we need to define our narrative (a story that we tell ourselves and to the world about us, our purpose, beliefs, values and aspirations), and only then we can (re)claim this narrative, so our newly formed habits and perspectives can serve our future selves better.
Professional coaching focuses holistically on all the important life areas, including transitions that students traditionally face - for example between university and work life. It can help with self-esteem, overcoming stress, establishing our path (where do you want to go, how do you want to work, what values you hold, what can you do about it, what is the first possible step on that path?
This experimental university professional coaching project ran in 4 phases:
Phase 1 – Workshop 1: the aim of the first 1-hour online workshop was to introduce students to professional coaching, and to present a coaching tool called “Self-reflection Circle” that Maja designed based on similar coaching concepts she has learned about and used in her coaching endeavors. The concept gives participants an overview of 12 most important life areas.
Phase 2 – WhatsApp coaching: interested students join the WhatsApp group, where the coach asks powerful coaching questions for self-reflection in the form of bite-sized WhatsApp writing assignments. We cover one topic daily, for 12 days. This helps us to identify our existing narratives about ourselves, our current obstacles, and potential areas for positive change.
Phase 3 – Workshop 2 on Goal Setting: the aims of the second 1-hour online workshop are to gather feedback from participants of the WhatsApp coaching, to share insights and learn from individual reflections (on a voluntary basis), and to move on to the action part. Participants will choose from the 12 topics to work on. Each participant identifies a goal (according to the S.M.A.R.T.E.R. method), and commits to a first small action step towards a positive change (a coaching homework). We support each other and hold each other accountable for implementing our action step in the WhatsApp group.
Phase 4 - Individual coaching sessions: Maja offers five 1:1 follow-up professional coaching sessions for most active students (up to 5 students).