“My coaching light came on”

How student support staff at one institution really feel about InsideTrack training

Asking someone to do their job differently is always an uphill battle. More often than not, program leaders spend most of a training workshop selling staff on the new methodology. If the training goes well, staff leave committed to trying out at least a few of the new techniques.

But it’s not a real success until your team can’t wait to tell you about all the benefits the new approach brings to their day-to-day roles.

That’s exactly what happened at Northeast Wisconsin Technical College.

The two-year public college partnered with InsideTrack to train its student support staff in coaching methodology. More than a year later, members of the team, from frontline advisors to program administrators, continue to discover new ways that the coaching approach has transformed the student experience — and expanded the potential they see in their own roles.

Below, NWTC staff describe in their own words how InsideTrack training has deepened the impact of their work with students.

Coaching methodology equips the entire team to build a personal connection with students and help them navigate the many resources ready to support them.

“While I’ve only been on the Customer Contact team for a very short time, I already find myself applying the coaching methodology with students. Being the first point of contact, my job is to be a navigator; therefore, I need to be very transparent with students in my role. An important takeaway for me was letting the student know I may not be the expert, and they may need to be connected to someone who can help them further. The challenging piece for me was introducing myself because too often we ask for a student ID#, which makes the conversation very transactional. Now, I frame the conversation by introducing myself as well as my role so the student knows exactly who they are working with. Utilizing the coaching tools has made me realize the impact we have on students. We have the power to turn the conversation around and make it a positive experience for them at NWTC.”

— Customer Contact Specialist in Campus Welcome Center

Even for those who don’t have student-facing roles, training in coaching methodology prepares staff to ask the right questions to make sure all students get the help they need — sometimes before they even know what they’re looking for.

“Coaching is for everyone! I was welcoming new students on one of the first days of the semester, and one student asked for help finding his classroom. When we arrived to his classroom, the room was dark and there wasn’t a room change sign. We learned from a co-worker walking by that his class may have been canceled and he should check his email. We went to the Welcome Center to log into his email, and he found the message indicating his class was canceled due to low enrollment. ‘That’s okay,’ he said, ‘I can just take it next semester.’ Then my coaching light came on. I told him that I wasn’t an expert on scheduling classes, but we should talk to someone who is an expert to see what other class times are available. He then met with an Academic Advisor, and he starts his class online next Monday. Cheers to another example of how coaching counts. It can happen anywhere, with any employee, no matter what our role.”

— Coaching Trainer

Anchored by our coaching framework, any student meeting becomes an opportunity to support their development and overcome obstacles on the path to degree completion.

“When I went into coaching, I knew I did some of the methodology already. But I was shocked to learn so much about fine-tuning my skills. The first day after training, I met with a student who was a very nervous returning adult. She was standing up front waiting for me and as she grabbed her bag, I just stopped for a moment to ask her how her day was and how everything was going with her transitioning back into school. I watched her exhale and release the stress in her shoulders and her face. I was floored that such a small question would cause such a noticeable reaction. She began telling me about the transition and was very open in our meeting with her obstacles coming back to school. We assessed everything she had going on and the resources the College offered that would help her succeed. She continues to contact me regularly for help, and I’m so happy that I was able to build a relationship where she felt so comfortable reaching out to me. Since then, I have focused more on relationship-building and transparency. My meetings with students can be rough sometimes, as paying for college and financial aid are very stressful obstacles, but I have found that relationship-building and transparency have really helped alleviate students from coming back upset.”

— Financial Aid Advisor

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