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Infant Toddler Development Training
Module 2, Lesson 2

Your Role as Coach

We will now move into a more in-depth discussion of your role on the Early Steps team. As an ITDS, you will be coaching the caregivers of young children with special needs.

The guiding principles of effective coaching are outlined in an informative article by Shelden and Rush (2004). This article will serve as a springboard for your work as a coach. In the article, the authors state that "our role clearly emerges as a coach to the adults in the child's life to maximize their confidence and abilities so that child learning and development of new skills occurs naturally as a part of everyday life" (p. 9). The authors emphasize that coaching occurs throughout the early intervention process.

Interventionists are encouraged to shift their focus from "expert-driven" to "learner-focused" service (Rush, Shelden & Hanft, 2003, p.35). The 'learner' in early intervention could be the primary caregiver, other family members, a childcare provider, or members of the early intervention team. In coaching, the emphasis is on working side by side with the learner, to facilitate skill building in natural settings. Coaching always involves a process of orientation, personal discovery and meaningful performance.

Please read: Practitioner as Coach: Our Role in Early Intervention by Shelden and Rush, (2004). This article can be found in the Resource Bank.

As you read this article, please attend to the following points:

  1. How the mental models and practices of the two therapists have changed over time
  2. The authors questions for reflection on evidence-based practices
  3. The benefits of coaching
  4. The 5 components of the coaching process
  5. The coach's goal

Questions about these points may appear on the self-assessment and/or final evaluation.

Coaching and Adult Learning

In your role as coach, you will be collaborating with your fellow team members, childcare providers and families. Your work will focus on building the confidence and competence of caregivers. Ultimately, children with special needs will benefit as their caregivers become more knowledgeable, capable, involved and resourceful.

Because you will be working with adults, it is important to have a basic understanding of how adults learn. In recent years, there has been a proliferation of research in adult learning styles and characteristics. Much of the work in this area pertains to mid-career adults who are pursuing university degrees in flexible, online programs. However, many of the same principles apply to the adults that you will be coaching.

For example, both adult learners in universities and caregivers of children with special needs are often accomplished, experienced individuals. Both are interested in learning practical skills. Both are 'relevancy-oriented;' that is, they want to know why they are being asked to do particular tasks and activities.

As an introduction to the topic of adult learning, please read Principles of Adult Learning by Stephen Lieb. As you read this article, think about how these principles might be applied to the people with whom you work.

Questions from this article may appear on the self-assessment and/or final evaluation.

Adult Learning Styles

Another approach to studying adult learning is to delineate different types of learners. Many theorists have proposed models for understanding how cognitive and personality styles interact in the learning process.

4 women sitting at a table

One such model, the Index of Learning Styles, was developed by Felder and Silverman. Felder and Silverman describe learners along the following four dimensions:

  1. Active -- Reflective
  2. Sensing -- Intuitive
  3. Visual -- Verbal
  4. Sequential -- Global

Please read Learning Styles and Strategies by Felder and Solomon. This article is available in the Resource Bank. As you read the article, take note of:

  1. the characteristics of each learning style, and
  2. strategies that assist different types of learners.

Questions from this article may appear on the self-assessment and/or final evaluation.


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