A potential Coacharya student recently asked me for tips on how to get a headstart in the program. This prompted some reflections from my own experience in the PCC ACTP, and how my 20/20 hindsight may help future students
Arrive feeling open and ready to learn. It may be tempting to try for a head start by cramming in information ahead of class – I know I did. I purchased a bunch of coaching books a month or so prior to class, some of which I still haven’t read. After starting the program, I found that I had to unlearn some of my readings and I had to learn a little humility. Why? I was taking this course to learn coaching, not to show off my knowledge from the first class. Unless your instructor has given you a specific reading list to read ahead of time, arriving to the class with an open mind and being receptive to learning is the most important thing. The one book to read ahead if you’re determined to do that – On Becoming a Person by Carl Rogers. It’s on the syllabus for every Coacharya course and is an excellent resource.
Attendance has come to mean something quite different from what we may be used to in a more “traditional” study setting. When attending a virtual program, as I did, distractions may creep in much more surreptitiously than they would in a traditional class setting. It’s easier and less embarrassing to check your phone and respond to messages when it’s simply a matter of turning off a computer camera, but you’ll also be missing out on valuable learning time. I found keeping my camera on kept me more honest and engaged and those times when I would make myself invisible I would come back to the conversation feeling out of the loop. I also suggest turning your phone off during class to minimize temptations.
It is important to attend as many classes as possible as the discussions and group interaction are a big part of the learning process. But in the event that there is a class or two that must be missed, definitely watch the recordings later, and watch them actively. Try to engage yourself in the conversation as if you were in class. For me, that meant answering some of the questions out loud as if I was participating live.
Coach training with a diverse cohort is an excellent opportunity to hone listening skills and to learn from others’ experiences. It can also rear the ugly head of a competitive ego. In the early days of coach training, I would find myself holding my breath impatiently waiting for a break in the conversation so that I could share something that I thought would sound impressive to my trainer. When I later reviewed the recordings of those early classes, I cringed to realize that I had sometimes missed vital points in my impatience to be heard! We learn so much more by actively listening and it is also great practice for coaching. When I shut up and listened, I grew to appreciate the different perspectives within my cohort and I learned a lot from my fellow learners.
Peer coach, peer coach, peer coach. When you are invited to form triads for peer coaching, form your triads, set up some regular sessions, and stay with the process! It can be challenging coordinating three different schedules and committing to a time that suits all of you, but make this a priority – these sessions are as important as attending classes. The only way to start implementing your learnings is to start trying them out with your fellow students. I, unfortunately, let peer coaching fall away when work and family commitments grew too heavy and I came to regret that. I found myself lagging behind some of the cohort in my later classes because I simply hadn’t had the coaching practice to complement and expand on what we were covering in class. Another vital reason to stick with peer coaching is that the hours count toward ICF as paid hours, something you’ll be grateful for when it comes time to tally your coaching hours log.
Coaching practice also includes self-coaching. We learned how to self-coach early and this is an incredible tool that I will keep with me for the rest of my life. It helps me to be a better coach, and also a better human.
I tend to not be a note-taker during a class or lecture, and it wasn’t important to do so in the program I was in as we were very interactive in our discussions. However, I should have taken more time to journal after each class as well as after each practice coaching session. When I was later prepping for my accreditation submissions, I wanted to go back to listen to certain class recordings. I would have found it much easier to access the information I needed if I had made simple notes about what was covered in class, perhaps diving deeper into any learnings or shifts that came up for me. It’s also the start of a great habit. Reflecting after coaching sessions is pivotal in my growth as a coach and continues to serve me, helping me move past certain hurdles that I have had in my approach with some clients.
Keep up with the work on the LMS and do the homework! It is not only there to help you develop in the program it will also take care of some of the prep work for credentialing. When I was deep into the process of applying for my EMCC credentials I wished that I had completed the assignments earlier in my program as I would have had the class material fresh in mind as well as more access to feedback. I also highly recommend tuning in to the amazing webinars that are available through Coacharya as they cover a wide range of topics that will enhance your learning and deepen your understanding of coaching.
Speaking of feedback – welcome it! Open up to its uncomfortable presence and invite it in. In a call with Magda at Coacharya, I mentioned I was still smarting from some feedback I had received on a coaching recording and commented that I didn’t want to send a followup recording to my trainer until I thought it was perfect. She reminded me that perfection is impossible and added that I wasn’t going to the expense and commitment of coach training to receive a pat on the back. I was there to benefit from the experience of my trainer and that meant taking constructive criticism too. That same day I submitted a recording and it was approved and graded at the PCC level.