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Taking Ownership

Quality listening has many benefits.

My mother is the best person I know. Five foot tall and weighing about 50 kilos soaking wet, she is a pocket rocket. Though she is supposed to be enjoying retirement, she simply cannot be idle. Each day consists of jobs that need to be done, from work around the property to volunteering in her local community.

She has a soft heart and is utterly selfless. For all her good points, she has one terrible flaw. She simply cannot admit to ever needing anything. Over the last two weeks, she has been quite sick with the flu. Sick is not a word my mother understands, nor is it something she can admit to. Dad virtually had to drag her to a doctor, frightened that she would be hospitalised as she was a couple of years ago, for failing to seek treatment when she knew she needed it. In this sense only, she can be absolutely infuriating because she is her own worst enemy at times.

The same can be true for students. As we return from holidays and as assessment results and feedback are made available in SEQTA, there are a range of possible reactions. Some students will celebrate their excellent progress, whilst others will commiserate. Some students will reflect on the term that was, and show ownership over their results. Others may have a harder time with honest reflection and owning the reality which is abundantly clear to parents and teachers. How can we best help boys develop a sense of ownership and purpose?

Those who work extensively with boys, advocate a coach approach. A coach is a person who is invested in positive outcomes and develops meaningful relationships with players in order to enhance their own game, and the team game. There is compelling research which demonstrates that the success of good coaching is in ensuring that boys meaningfully pursue goals and strategies that they devise themselves. Coaching also helps boys develop a stronger sense of belonging and stronger sense of ‘can do’.

At Ambrose Treacy, we regularly adopt a coaching approach in order to enhance the long-term outcomes for boys. This requires a focus on the horizon rather than the shore line, good listening skills, powerful questioning techniques, emotional intelligence, trust building and goal setting processes.

Importantly, coaching isn’t just for teachers. Dr Christian Van Niewerburgh advocates that parents adopt a coaching model, creating time to engage in quality listening, rather than talking too much. For Van Niewerburgh there is a beauty in coaching conversations, because they use the open-ended question and active listening technique to encourage sons to find their own solutions to everyday challenges. According to the research, the conscious transition to a coaching rather than instructing model, can lead to:
- Improved self confidence
- Improved relationships
- Better decision-making
- The ability to set and attain meaningful goals
- Enhanced performance
- The ability to cope in challenging circumstances
- Greater resilience

Kath Little, Dean of Learning