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Coaching strategies

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

6 advising techniques
Thanks to Builders Club, middle school students develop the following characteristics:

  • Self-identification as one who makes a difference
  • Problem-solving
  • Collaboration
  • Empathy
  • Experimentation
It would be great if there was a magic wand that made these skills and behaviors suddenly appear in young people. But developments takes time. Builders Club has identified six advising techniques that will help members develop Builders Club characteristics:
  • Be authentic
  • Let the members lead
  • Show you are a caring adult
  • Encourage reflection
  • Value middle school students
  • Be a resource
Be authentic
Middle school can be a challenging time. Every day, students are making choices that decide the person they will become. And yet, the very culture of middle school can be unpredictable. This is due to the many changes happening within young people. Students enter middle school as children, but they leave as young adults.

For this reason, it is important for advisors to make Builders Club a safe and comfortable environment for members to express themselves. Being authentic is a great way to do that. When members see their advisors are not afraid to admit mistakes or laugh at themselves, it inspires them to do the same. When they’re free from fear, members get the most out of the club experience.

Builders Club members will rely on you for guidance often. As a role model and mentor, the best thing you can do is be consistent in your interactions and actions with students. Remember, they are always watching you and look up to you as a trusted adult. Do not talk above or down to them, and they will recognize you as a partner in their development.

Ways to be authentic: Let the 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. Builders Club allows members to practice new skills in a comfortable environment.

When Builders Club members take the lead, they will do things differently than you would. And sometimes they’ll fail. Let them. It is 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 Builders Club members can achieve. Then they discover how much ability they have to make a difference.

Ways to let members lead:
Show you are a caring adult
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 Builders Club advisor, you are one more adult a young person will look to for guidance.

Advisors are an incredibly important part of the Builders Club 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 Builders Club members 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 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:
Value middle school students
If you don’t work in a middle school setting or have a personal connection with middle school students, you probably won’t know what to expect of middle school youth.

Value middle school students by becoming familiar with their world. A major way students relate to adults is by hearing personal anecdotes of similar experiences. Advisors sometimes feel disconnected with today’s middle school youth due to changing technology, but once they become familiar with the students themselves, they find that the social skills and critical thinking skills needed for adulthood remain the same.

When advisors know the full potential of middle school students, they are more prepared to engage club members. Advisors are also more equipped to handle unexpected interactions with members should they arise.

Ways you can value middle school students:
Be a resource
From time to time, Builders Club members will need your help exploring new passions and interests. Encourage members to approach you when they need help deciding the direction of new projects. No matter what they’re interested in, there’s always a chance you can help create a valuable new opportunity.

For instance, you’re connected to various networks: your neighborhood, your work, your family, your friends and more. Turn to these networks, when appropriate, as a resource for your Builders Club.

As Builders Club members increase their knowledge through service, fundraising and advocacy, they will become competent, capable and caring leaders. In fact, members will deepen their commitment to Builders Club—and they’ll become more likely to stay with the Kiwanis family in the future.

Ways you can be a resource:


Resources

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  • Burchard, B. (2003). The student leadership guide (2nd ed.). Missoula, MT: Center for Leadership Development, University of Montana.
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  • 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.