Connect to Succeed
Each student has an Academic Coach tasked with improving achievement through strengthening the partnership between school and the home, and developing the skills needed to succeed at school.
Key features of C2S:
- All students are allocated to either a junior (Year 7-10) or senior (Year 11-13) ‘Connect-to-Succeed’ (C2S) group.
- These groups have about 15 students in each and are led by a teacher (known as the group’s ‘Learning Coach’).
- C2S groups are the first – and main – point of contact between the school and home regarding a student’s learning progress.
- The groups meet twice a week: a whole period on Mondays, and again for 20 minutes on Fridays.
- There are no traditional written subject reports or parent-teacher interviews through the year. These have been replaced by three ‘Learning Conferences’, each involving the Learning Coach, the student, and their parents/caregivers. The first one, early in Term One focuses on the year ahead and setting appropriate goals and strategies to achieve those. The second and third Learning Conferences involve the student reviewing their learning and progress they have made towards their goals. The Learning Coach has information from classroom teachers and assessments which is discussed with both the student and their parents. Together, as a three-way conversation, all work together to promote learning and help each student reach towards their potential.
This programme was developed as a response to research which overwhelmingly shows that the stronger the home-school relationship, the more learning is promoted. To be effective, this relationship must be systematically planned for, integrated into school life, and sustainable. Problems and issues are pre-empted and resolved together in partnership at an earlier stage, and post-school options for careers and employment are better served. It also gives credence to the NZ Curriculum Key Competency of students’ learning to “Manage Self”: we believe that academic coaching is the best way to develop this competency.
Coaching is a powerful way to move learners towards achieving their goals. We have had overwhelmingly positive feedback from parents, students and staff in our review surveys, and parent attendance at the conferences has been well above the 90% level. Some parents’ comments:
“I have enjoyed the C2S conferences - keep them going. I got so much more feedback and understanding of how the school works, and action is taken when I have a concern”.
“My child has learnt to take more personal responsibility for learning and subject choices. I like the longer time to meet with the coach”.
What is ‘academic coaching’?
The ‘coaching’ model was not chosen lightly.
Coaching is the powerful process of supporting someone to move forward towards their goal.
Although they may offer helpful input or suggestions, a coach's job is to ask the right questions to help students arrive at their own conclusions. Therefore, it is not a corrective tool, used only when things are going wrong. It is about helping students to explore their goals and ambitions, and then working together to achieve them. So it is about long-term skill development rather than quick fixes or temporary understanding.
The sports analogy is a good one. In sport, where do the players go, and where does the coach go? The players take to the field and the coach goes to the sidelines. So too, in academic coaching; the learning and the reflective work is done by the student, while the coach is there at their side to offer encouragement and guidance on how to succeed and bring out the best in the player. However, as in sport, it is not the coach who ultimately plays the game.
The coach won’t be ‘telling’ the student what to do, nor necessarily ‘showing’ them how to do it, but instead, be listening attentively, observing, and asking deep questions to give space for the student to make connections and draw conclusions. When students think through problems and generate solutions and action plans themselves, they are more likely to be motivated and willing to follow through. Therefore, they will have to hold themselves accountable for their own decisions.
And that is what ‘Connect-2-Succeed’ is all about.