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Coaching strategies

All K-Kids advisors in their second year or beyond are encouraged to participate in the K-Kids 201: Knowledge. Tools. Strategies. online advisor education. It’s a great place to get further information on developing characteristics and behaviors in club members.

5 advising techniques
As a result of being in a K-Kids club, elementary school students develop the following characteristics:

  • Self-awareness
  • Solution-focused thinking
  • Inclusiveness
  • Empathy
  • Confidence

It would be great if there was a magic wand that could make these skills and behaviors suddenly appear in young people. But development takes time. K-Kids has identified five advising techniques that will help members develop K-Kids characteristics:
  • Provide structure
  • Let members lead
  • Show you care
  • Encourage reflection
  • Let members play
Provide structure
It’s always good to know what’s expected of you when you enter any new environment. K-Kids clubs are no different. Help members become familiar with the club and learn club norms by providing structure as soon as the year begins.

What does “providing structure” mean? It’s protecting students from harm, preventing them from violating school policies or club bylaws, and helping them be practical with their goals. As members begin the planning stage of any club activity or project, make sure they are in compliance with each organization they are involved with.

Introducing tools and resources is also a key part of providing structure. Don’t make your K-Kids reinvent the wheel! Provide templates or worksheets for different club activities to help members get in the groove of club proceedings. A few examples include templates for meeting agendas, meeting minutes, or tracking financial information.

Ways to provide structure:
Let members lead
When you learn to play an instrument, you don't sit and watch an instructor play. You practice by doing it first-hand. It’s the same with leadership skills. K-Kids allows members to practice new skills in a comfortable environment.

When K-Kids take the lead, they will do things differently than you would. And sometimes they’ll fail. Let them. It’s okay to give a warning or offer advice. But when it come to matters of opinion, don’t push it if they aren’t listening to yours. It’s all about trust. When students sense that trust, they begin to develop self-confidence and efficacy.

And remember: If a group is not failing at least part of the time, they aren’t ambitious enough—they aren’t challenging the process. So don’t be afraid to get out of the way. It can even be a great perspective from which to see the amazing things that K-Kids members can achieve. Then they discover how much ability they have to make a difference.

Ways to let members lead:
Show you care
Did you ever have a favorite teacher? A supportive coach? A mentor? You might notice one thing they all have in common: they are all adults who were concerned for your well-being. As a K-Kids advisor, you are one more adult a young person will look to for guidance.

Advisors are an incredibly important part of the K-Kids program. Without you, the program does not work. It is with the dedicated investment of your time and energy that you help develop the next generation of leaders.

Showing you care about the growth and well-being of K-Kids is important for their development. By being yourself, asking members about themselves, and familiarizing yourself with their world, you help them understand that they matter. Just like adults, young people need to feel valued to thrive.

Ways you can show you care:
Encourage reflection
Although thinking critically may come more naturally to some people than others, reflection is a learned skill. Discussion is one way to accomplish it. However, discussion and reflection aren’t the same thing.

Discussion happens first—when members receive information and become aware of their parameters. Rather than providing all of the information up front, advisors should task members with the responsibility of asking their own questions—helping members feel accountable for their own learning.

Reflection occurs after discussion, when members make sense of what they have experienced and how it may impact others. This helps members identify effective skills they used and why those are important. This is also a great way to help members master the ability to challenge one another respectfully—and develop the capacity for deeper thinking.

As an advisor, you could encourage member discussion by:
  • Asking for a few minutes at the end of the meeting to facilitate these conversations.
  • Coaching the board members on how to ask questions during club meetings.
Ways you can encourage reflection:
Let members play
Elementary school students are developing at a rapid rate. So it’s both mentally and physically hard for them to remain still and focused for long periods of time. And you only have a limited amount of time at meetings. So present members with options.

Rather than just reading about or listening to potential project ideas, provide creative ways members can pick and choose. This may include asking members to work in teams to present their ideas, visiting organizations to learn about potential opportunities, or interviewing individuals in the community.

One reason members love K-Kids is that the club offers something the school day does not: immersive learning. By engaging in service, fundraising and advocacy projects in ways that are playful and relatable, K-Kids develop a deeper understanding of the “why” behind the work they do.

Ways you can let members play:


Resources

  • Appleman, D. (2011). Developing teen leadership: A practical guide for youth group advisors, teachers and parents. San Jose, CA: Desaware Publishing.
  • Berckemeyer, J. C. (2009). Managing the Madness: A practical guide to middle grades classrooms. Westerville, OH: National Middle School Association.
  • Brandwein, M. (2003). Learning leadership: How to develop outstanding teen leadership training programs at camp. Champaign, IL: Distributed for the YMCA of the USA by Human Kinetics.
  • Burchard, B. (2003). The student leadership guide (2nd ed.). Missoula, MT: Center for Leadership Development, University of Montana.
  • Costa, A. L., & Garmston, R. J. (2002). Cognitive coaching: A foundation for renaissance schools. Norwood, MA: Christopher-Gordon.
  • Curtis, K. (2008). Empowering youth: How to encourage young leaders to do great things. Minneapolis, MN: Search Institute Press.
  • Johnston, P. H. (2004). Choice words: How our language affects children's learning. Portland, ME.: Stenhouse.
  • Klau, M., Boyd, S., & Luckow, L. (2006). New directions for youth development. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.
  • Kouzes, J. M., Posner, B. Z., High, B., & Morgan, G. M. (2013). The student leadership challenge: Facilitation and activity guide. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.
  • MacGregor, M. (2005). Designing Student Leadership Programs: Transforming the Leadership Potential of Youth (3rd ed.). Denver, CO: YouthLeadership.com.
  • MacGregor, M. G. (2013). Building everyday leadership in all kids: An elementary curriculum to promote attitudes and actions for respect and success. Minneapolis, MN: Free Spirit Publishing.
  • Nagaoka, J., Farrington, C., Ehrlich, S., & Heath, R. (2015). Foundations for Young Adult Success: A Developmental Framework. The University of Chicago Consortium on Chicago School Research. Retrieved from http://www.wallacefoundation.org/knowledge-center/after-school/key-research/Pages/Foundations-for-Young-Adult-Success.aspx 
  • Ragsdale, S., & Saylor, A. (2014). Groups, troops, clubs & classrooms: The essential handbook for working with youth. Minneapolis, MN: Search Institute.
  • Roehlekepartain, J. L. (2005). 150 ways to show kids you care = Los nin̋os importan, 150 maneras de demostrárselo. Minneapolis, MN: Search Institute.
  • Smith, C., McGovern, G., Larson, R., Hillaker, B., Peck, S., (2015). Promising Practices for Social and Emotional Learning. Preparing youth to thrive. Retrieved from: https://www.selpractices.org/documents/22 
  • This we believe: Keys to educating young adolescents. (2010). Westerville, OH: Association for Middle Level Education.