By Catorina Rubens, Volunteer Coach
CoachBright attracted me immediately because of its student led focus. I wasn’t interested in going into a school and telling kids what to do – they get enough of that from curriculums and teachers. The idea that CoachBright tutors would facilitate and support rather than instruct really resonated with me on a personal level. For me, education should be about allowing pupils to explore topics which interest them, and that’s what CoachBright is all about.
My first CoachBright session was pretty nerve wracking. I had no idea whether the students would see the worth in what we were trying to do, but I was pleasantly surprised by the outcome we got from the kids. They really responded to receiving individual attention and it was very rewarding to see the results we got from putting into practice different coaching techniques. I had some fantastic one-to-one sessions with different pupils where I tried to use good listening approaches we’d learned in training. The pupils opened up more straight away and became far more comfortable discussing what they found difficult about the tasks we were setting. It was like I’d flipped a switch and suddenly they wanted to talk about learning.
A particularly clear cut memory of CoachBright came in our final session watching three of the graduates give presentations on their research topics. Six weeks previously, the idea of public speaking filled these particular students with a deep sense of dread. And yet here they were, standing up and presenting on topics which motivated them, with more confidence and charisma than many experienced adults I know. When we gave them feedback on their final presentations, you could practically see some of them shining with pride. They really recognised how far they’d come. I couldn’t help but think about some of the advantages children who attend certain private schools receive – extra tuition, debating classes, pronunciation lessons to name but a few – and smile at the thought that CoachBright was helping to level the playing field.
Even though CoachBright is only at its inception, it’s clear to me that the programme is a game changer. I’ve witnessed first-hand how giving kids more control over their own learning delivers direct results. These pupils aren’t stupid; they just want a chance to focus their education on stuff that they think is important. The genius of CoachBright is that it enables pupils to achieve this whilst helping them to develop key skills along the way like public speaking, workshop delivery, communication, self-reflection and research. Most of the participants have been too busy enjoying themselves to realise they have massively improved in these areas, and that’s thanks to the CoachBright approach.
As a recent graduate, CoachBright has been great for me to reach out of my comfort zone and diversify my skillset. The whole programme encourages self-reflection and constructive criticism for both the pupils and the tutors. It’s been an invaluable opportunity to think about how I work with others and communicate with peers and pupils alike. It’s so exciting that this is just the beginning of CoachBright – and I’m very proud to say that I was there at the start.