Thank you for contributing to the Student Success Coaching Program. As a volunteer coach, you play a vital role in helping students stay connected to the Infinite and to each other during the transition to remote learning and online communications.
The resources below will help you as you prepare for your coaching responsibilities:
- Video Recording of Training with Transcript
- Audio Recording
- Slack Community for Coaches
- Answering Your Questions Post-Training
- Student Success Program Information for Coaches
- Communications Templates for Messages to Students
- Coaching Conversation Outline
If you have additional questions or concerns, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
We hope you enjoy the Student Success Coaching Program, and we look forward to hearing your feedback!
Elizabeth Cogliano-Young, Associate Dean and Director of First-Year Advising Programs, OVC
Gus Burkett, Senior Associate Dean, Diversity and Community Involvement, DSL
Lauren Pouchak, Director of Special Projects, OVC
What are the overall expectations of us as volunteer coaches?
Thank you for contributing to the Student Success Coaching Program. As a volunteer coach, we are asking you to help students stay connected to the Infinite and to each other during the transition to remote learning and online communities. You may also connect students to other virtual offerings, including opportunities for career and professional development, experiential learning, and alumni who share similar interests. As discussed further below, as needed you should refer students to the support resources that can help them thrive in their remote learning.
In your coaching role, you are expected to follow the general guidelines of the Student Success Coaching program, including quickly consulting with a student support resource when you are concerned about a student. To consult on a student concern, email email@example.com. Of course, you are also expected to adhere to the same level of professionalism and responsibility in your volunteer coach role as you would in your normal MIT position, including following all of MIT’s Policies and Procedures.
Who do I reach out to when I’m concerned about a student?
Due to the number of questions that we have received following the coach’s training, we have developed the steps below to streamline our support for coaches who are concerned about students.
If you become concerned about a student, email firstname.lastname@example.org to share your concern. A staff member will respond to you within one business day to discuss your concern and consult on next steps, which might include referring a student to another resource.
If you have a concern about a student during nights, weekends, or on Institute holidays, you may contact the Dean on Call by calling 617-253-1212 and asking to speak with the Dean on Call.
If you have a concern for a student’s immediate safety, you must call the MIT Police (617-253-1212) to share your concern.
If you consult directly with another resource or need to contact the Dean on Call or MIT Police, please also email email@example.com to summarize the concern and action steps taken to support the student.
Can you elaborate more on private vs. confidential resources? What situations require mandatory reporting?
The distinction between private and confidential resources in higher education is really about your responsibility to report incidents of sexual misconduct should they be disclosed to you. Private resources (otherwise known as responsible employees) must disclose this information to the Institute Discrimination and Harassment Response (IDHR) office. Confidential resources are not required to disclose this information, except when there is imminent risk of harm to self or others. Confidential resources are limited to MIT Medical; the Office of Religious, Spiritual, and Ethical Life; the Ombuds Office; Student Mental Health & Counseling Services; and Violence Prevention and Response. The IDHR office provides a good overview of the role of responsible employees on their website here.
For the purposes of this program, all coaches are considered private resources, with a responsibility to report instances of sexual misconduct to IDHR. This includes those who are otherwise designated as confidential resources in their regular role at MIT. All coaches should clarify that they are private resources in their role as coach to students. This means that you will need to share information related to sexual misconduct with IDHR immediately upon learning of it. You should also share information about hazing or serious concerns about the health and safety of your students or others to support resources. In addition, if any of your students are under the age of 18 and you suspect that they are being subjected to any form of abuse, you have an obligation to report this information to firstname.lastname@example.org. More information about reporting abuse of minors can be found here.
In the case of a student crisis, will the Dean on Call take over and take responsibility for the case?
Absolutely. If you have a concern regarding a student’s immediate safety or the safety of others, contact the MIT Police and the Dean on Call by calling 617-253-1212. The Dean on Call will likely reach out to you to gather additional information, and will work with other resources to manage the crisis and provide support to the student(s) and community.
Can you provide guidance on initial boundary-setting and expectation-setting with some specifics for our students in our first conversations?
Some examples of boundaries that you can set with students at the onset include:
Clarification of your role – you are here as a supportive resource and your role is not intended to be their academic advisor or therapist.
Limitations of your role – you are primarily here to listen to them and help connect them to other resources. You are a “private” resource (see above)
Availability and time – you are here to connect with them once a week over the next six weeks (until the end of the academic year). If you meet via phone or zoom, you can meet for up to 15 minutes. Your Zoom and phone conversations with students must not be recorded.
As you are comfortable and if applicable to you, you can let students know that working from home means that you’re balancing other responsibilities and may not be available at certain times. You are not expected to be available after hours and, if needed, resources such as a Dean on Call can be contacted.
If a student emails you, you will respond by [x timeframe, as determined by you]. If a student has an urgent concern that requires a more immediate response, they should contact any of the resources listed as an After-hours and 24/7 Resource here.
What is the expected time-frame these coaching relationships will last?
The expectation is that you are available to serve as a coach through the next six weeks until the end of the semester.
- Goal of the program: As part of the Student Success Coaching Program, volunteer coaches help students stay connected to the Infinite during the transition to remote learning and online communities. Volunteer coaches may connect students to other virtual offerings, including opportunities for career and professional development, experiential learning, and alumni who share similar interests. Volunteer coaches can also consult with and refer students to support resources that can help them thrive in their remote learning.
- Meeting frequency: You will connect with students once a week. This connection can be through a 15 minute Zoom video chat or phone call.
- Duration: You should be available to students through the end of the spring 2020 semester.
- Confidentiality: At the start of your relationship (before or during your first conversation with students), please make clear:
- You are here as a supportive resource and your role is not intended to be their academic advisor, therapist, or friend.
- In the context of this coaching relationship, you are a “responsible employee” and are primarily here to listen to them and help connect them to other resources.
- Should it arise, you will need to share information related to sexual misconduct with the Institute Discrimination and Harrassment Response Office immediately upon learning of it. You should also share information about hazing or serious concerns about the health and safety of your students or others, should they arise, to support resources. In addition, if any of your students are under the age of 18 and you suspect that they are being subjected to any form of abuse, you have an obligation to report this information to email@example.com. More information about reporting abuse of minors can be found here.
- Consultation: You should consult with support resources when you are concerned about a student by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. If you consult with another support resource, you should email email@example.com after that consultation to summarize the action steps taken.
- Contact information: If you have general questions, comments, or concerns about your coaching, please feel free to email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Initial Outreach – as soon as you receive your student assignments
Subject: Hello from the Student Success Coaching Program
How are you? I am writing to you as part of the Student Success Coaching Program that you heard about from Chancellor Cindy Barnhart, Dean Suzy Nelson, and Vice Chancellor Ian Waitz in an email to you last week. I am excited to say that you and I have been matched together and I wanted to see if we could find a time/way to connect. If you let me know the time zone you are in and your preferred way to connect (e.g. Zoom, Slack, etc.), we can find a good time and way to chat.
The Student Success Coaching Program matches MIT community members with students as an additional way to help students stay connected to the Infinite and to serve as an additional resource for making sure you have what you need to successfully transition to an online learning environment. The initial plan is that we would check-in once a week, just to see how you are doing, answer any questions you might have, and connect you to resources that might help enhance your MIT experience wherever you might be.
[Insert 1-2 sentences about yourself and your role at MIT].
It is not my intention to replace your academic or research advisors, other staff who work closely with you, or your friends. I am available to help you through the remainder of the semester as we all adjust to our new MIT world. I recognize there may be other communities that are offering you something similar, and I hope those will continue.
If you would prefer that we not connect or would like to be matched with a different coach, please just let me know or feel free to send an email to email@example.com. I look forward to connecting with you and seeing how I can be helpful.
Follow-up Message After No Response – after 3 days
Subject: Following up – Student Success Coaching Program
How are you? I am not sure if you received the message below, but I wanted to follow-up. If you let me know the time zone you are in and your preferred way to connect (e.g. Zoom, Slack, etc.), we can find a good time and a way to chat. If you would prefer that we not connect, please just let me know or feel free to send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org letting them know that you would like a different coach or don’t want to participate in the program.
Final Follow-up Message – after a week
Subject: Final Outreach – Student Success Coaching Program
How are you? I hope that you are doing well. I have not heard back from you in response to the messages below and so will stop reaching out. Should you change your mind about wanting a coach, feel free to respond to this email at any time or reach out to email@example.com.
The following webpage links to the main Institute COVID19 site and is intended to be a hub of student support information that you may find useful: https://studentlife.mit.edu/support/covid19/.
I wish you the best as you move forward in the term.
- Happy/Crappy: What are the best and worst things that have happened so far this week?
- How does MIT/Boston compare with your hometown?
- Be a detective – ask about their room, t-shirt, dog – personal taste that is visible on camera
- How are you doing generally (self, family, living at home or wherever they are)?
- How are you staying connected to others (local friends, friends at MIT, etc.)?
- How are things going academically (what’s working/what challenges are coming up)?
- What’s something positive, achieved, solved, etc. that you may want to highlight?
- What is your plan for the rest of the week (make sure they are scheduling themselves and keeping connected to others)?
- Are there any topics that you’d like me to think about for our next conversation?
Coaching is about listening
- The power of listening: people want to be heard and witnessed
- Clear your mind of distractions, including what you are going to say next
- Limit personal advice. Even if the person occasionally takes it, they are deprived of the opportunity to do their own brainstorming.
- Avoid “Yeah, but…” Syndrome
Coaching is about asking questions
Support brainstorming and networking:
- What have you already tried?
- How did that work?
- What else has worked for you in the past?
- Do any of your classmates have ideas about this?
- Try to identify the things that can (and cannot) be controlled.
Orient students to coaching
- Ask student to keep a running list during the week of things they want to talk about.
- Empathize with students but realize that we don’t have all the information about a concern that student discusses.
- Set clear boundaries: when and how to contact coach; role of coach, not therapist.
- Confirm next meeting
It’s ok to not know all the answers!
- You don’t have to have all the answers!
- “I don’t know all the details of how that works, but I know someone who does; I/we can follow up with them.”
Traps to avoid
- Limit personal advice
- Don’t say, “Let’s look at the bright side.” Ask questions that allow the student to see a brighter context.
- Avoid the word “but” because it negates everything that came before. “I understand that you are feeling X and Y, but ….”
- When you have to wrap up and the student is still talking:
- Start with a summary: “Well, we’re getting close to the end of our time, and you mentioned X, Y, and Z. It sounds like you have a bunch of things you want to think more about. Can we pick this up again the next time we meet?”
- If needed, interrupt and use their name: “Zan, I’m interrupting you here because I’m aware that our time is running out…”
Referring a reluctant student
- Present the referral as a help to you: This is an area that I’m not really well-versed in – can I help you find someone who is better equipped for you to talk to?
- Dispel any myths that surround help-seeking: It’s smart/strong to reach out.
- Help with the appointment: Offer to help look up and connect with resources.
- Referral is not rejection: “I’ll check back in about how your meeting goes; you don’t have to tell me details, but I want to know if it was helpful.”
Adapted from Coaching Skills 1.0 by Zan Barry, Senior Program Manager, MIT Medical