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During the fall semester, the Waukee APEX faculty and staff had the opportunity to work with Bruce Kawahara, the Co-Principal and Co-Founder of BluOpal Consulting during professional development. Over the course of 2-3 months, the APEX team worked with Bruce to improve their own coaching skills to support APEX student associates in areas of self-awareness and ownership in their own learning. Bruce believes that this time helped give, “the APEX educators some experience in how coaching skills can help develop their individual students”.

BluOpal Consulting offers executive and leadership coaching through a series of workshops called “Leader as Coach”. This type of training is an in-depth and experiential dive into the leadership coaching subject. Simulated discussions facilitate dialogue in order to set goals and empower those around you. Additionally, training sessions teach participants how to address conflict management, focus on setting mutual goals and work together in the most efficient way possible.

Leadership coaching can be especially beneficial for educators to develop individual students who are disengaged, are experiencing difficulty in learning, and/or who may have behavioral issues that are hindering their growth. Coaching aims to lead students to uncover what is holding them back and what needs to be done in order to advance themselves. Bruce explains “That’s the self-leadership aspect of coaching versus just telling a student what to do, or what they are not doing correctly. Coaching is directed towards having the student choose their behavior, action, or direction because it is important to them.” This type of methodology also benefits students who are considered to be thriving, as they can be coached to lead themselves to do better.

The training sessions that the APEX team participated in specifically addressed skills used to coach students to be self-motivated and goal-oriented.  Russ Goerend, APEX instructor for Designing Communication Solutions, indicates that “Bruce helped me reflect on the conversations I have with my associates and how to rebalance them so my time is spent listening instead of talking. Coaching in this context is less about me getting across my points and more about me listening to find out where my associates are, and how I can help them move forward. It’s about the development of the student in choosing their own growth.”

Executive coach training can benefit any team in multiple ways and can span any subject area or profession. Training participants discover their fundamental strengths, clarify their short and long term goals, and learn how to develop leadership in others. Emotional control, active listening, and how to respond effectively to people in various situations are also points of discussion.

When asked if Bruce has any advice for educators his response was, “I heard someone say last month that the two most important professions in the world were parent and teacher.  I hope educators see that in themselves and keep trying to constantly improve and be better in their professions, because of the individual young students that you are helping to shape.”