What does great coaching look like? How do you measure it? These are very hard questions that will forever be debated, but in order to maintain the highest quality of coaching and in order to continuously improve, these are questions that we needed to answer for ourselves at The Spike Lab. So we spent the last 6 months debating and iterating until we arrived on an answer; one that we’re very proud of so much so that we wanted to lift up the hood and share it with you. We’ll keep iterating on this so feedback is very welcome!
The Spike Lab’s 4 Dimensions Of High Quality Coaching:
Great Spike coaching requires excellence in four key dimensions that we label as impact, relationship, session management and style. We carefully define all four as follows:
- Outcomes: The student is on track to having a great Spike and getting into a top US college.
- Growth: The student is learning our achievement skills and being pushed to experience personal growth as fast as possible while not losing flow.
- Efficiency: The value per minute is maximized.
- Wowed: The student has recently been “wowed”, meaning that something stands out to the student as particularly awesome and delighting.
- Unblocked: The coach has identified and resolved the student’s most critical problems and concerns.
- Energy: The coach helps the student maintain high and positive energy throughout the session. The student is feeling hopeful, confident and motivated.
- Informedness: The coach knows the student and the student’s life inside and out (especially the most relevant categories) and stays up-to-date on it as it evolves.
- Trust: The student feels comfortable around the coach (and vice-versa). The student feels safe expressing grief/sadness/anxiety. The coach role-models it. The student shows vulnerability.
- Rapport: There is good chemistry. It feels like there are shared-values. The student feels cared about. The student reciprocates and wants to know things about the coach.
- Session Flow: The sessions flow smoothly. The coach is very familiar with The Spike Lab Curriculum.
- Student’s Flow: Sessions are not too easy but not too challenging for the student.
- Organization: The agenda is fully covered or adjusted skillfully if appropriate. Time is managed skillfully. Low-priority Curriculum modules are cut if necessary. Lesson plans are also sped-up when necessary.
- Preparedness: The coach is fully prepared for the session, having reviewed all necessary materials beforehand.
- Adaptability: The coach is effective at identifying opportunities to go off-agenda and/or curriculum when necessary to better personalize the coaching experience. The coach is effective at developing new modules and lesson plans.
- Application of coaching fundamentals: The coach balances inquiry and advice, uses effective examples, gives-receives-solicits feedback, notices & leverages transformational opportunities, etc
- Application of expertise: The coach applies their own life experience and knowledge beyond that of the lesson plan — i.e. lots of examples, personal experience to draw from.
- Improvisation Coaching: The coach is good at thinking on the spot. The coach is adept at coming up with good questions and examples in the moment and adjusting modules and style according to the context of the situation.
- Communication: The coach uses clear and concise explanations, clear pronunciation, and words and concepts they understand and can related to, etc. This applies for verbal communication during coaching sessions as much as non-verbal communication and even written communication during and between sessions when communicating by email, LINE, etc.
- Professionalism: The coach conducts the session smoothly and seamlessly. This includes no technical problems, a punctual start and end, respectful dialogue, and professional attire and demeanor.
This article lays out exactly how we, at The Spike Lab, define great Spike Coaching. But it isn’t just a thought exercise. We built an evaluation rubric that’s derived from this definition that enables us to quantitatively evaluate, measure and therefore track our coaching quality. After every single student coaching session, our coaches spend a few minutes evaluating themselves. Students are also asked to evaluate their coaches every week, and The Spike Lab coaches peer-evaluate each other periodically. This ensures that our coaches are aware of their strengths and weakness, and it helps them continuously improve. It also gives The Spike Lab as an organization a dynamic quality management tool to ensure that all coaches are always upholding our very high standards of quality.
When we interview prospective new coaches, we always ask them, “how do you define great teaching or coaching?” We ask this because we know it’s one of the best indicators of a great coach. If a coach can’t visualize for him or herself what greatness looks like, then they’re likely not to be very ‘great’. The best coaches, and teachers for that matter, are not only thinking about what it means to be great but are also always evaluating themselves. These evaluations are a source of feedback that enables them to continuously be improving.
Regardless of whether you’re a student, parent or educator, please email me with any feedback on this framework. We’d love to hear your thoughts.