Sunday, November 13, 2011

Why and How I Teach Writing, Part 9: Coaching

Coaching, or one-one-instruction, is a constant part of my consulting. Whether I am working with a junior associate or an executive, I apply these standards to my coaching:


1. Diagnose the issue. Through diagnostic tests (usually several writing samples from the client’s collection and an assignment I create), client interviews and questionnaires, and, if appropriate, feedback from the managers, I learn the client’s writing strengths and needs.

2. Determine the coaching goals. I articulate the coaching objectives based on two sources: my assessment of the diagnostic and the client’s stated desired outcome.

3. Create rich content. I develop content specific to the writing the client does and that addresses the coaching goals.


4. Stick to the plan. While staying flexible to detect other areas of need as they arise during the coaching, I ensure that the goals remain foremost on the coaching agenda.

5. Provide continual feedback. Every piece of writing and every writing observation that the client makes is valuable in the coaching situation. I use it all to tie into the goals and to move the client to the next logical step in the coaching process.

6. Raise the bar. Those next logical steps should spiral toward greater mastery. Repetition for the sake of busy work is unproductive; therefore, successive assignments graduate in complexity and competence level.

7. Assess honestly. I try to keep the assessment positive, but I know my reputation is on the line when I give feedback. I summarize both strengths and weaknesses with each writing activity.


8. Provide a roadmap. Once the coaching concludes, I refer the client to print and electronic resources for continued improvement

9. Check in occasionally. – In fact, the coaching does not conclude; once a client, always a client. I contact former clients periodically to see how their writing is doing and provide guidance for further development.