Struggling? Off the charts successful? PA coaches share lessons

Around the country, college students are using the Public Achievement organizing model to coach teams of younger students as they do work on issues they care about, from eliminating bullying at school to taking action to protect the environment to supporting military families. (Read Public Achievement stories on this blog.)

If you're learning about Public Achievement and how to be an effective coach, there are some great resources prepared by students who've walked the path ahead of you.

For example, students at Naropa University in Colorado used their own struggles and successes in coaching to develop "We are the Ones We’ve Been Waiting For: A Students’ Guide to Public Achievement". The guide book includes tips for being an effective coach, including how to build relationships with members of your team. Heather Mueller wrote what I thought was an especially powerful piece about confronting tension with another coach, something that took real courage and helped her develop as a leader.

Students at Denver University also compiled stories of their experiences coaching Public Achievement. In "Living with Chaos," Natasha Kiemnec writes about doing too much talking in the beginning and being surprised at what happened when she "turned power over to [the students]."

And if you are looking for some creative/structured ideas to help your group with the Public Achievement process, check out the Tool Box on the Public Achievement web site.

Have a story or an idea you'd like to share with other coaches? Let us know.


Thank you Ellen for your article. I was thinking about what Heather said regarding confronting tensions and wanted to mention a few things I am working on to developing my coaching skills as a teacher; these may be of use for your coaches. Firstly, much of my work at the moment is focused on developing 'mediated learning' (check out Feuerstein if you want to know more) which is proving to provide an excellent scaffold for our young people when they are working on projects, as well as developing my own skills. Secondly, I've been looking at developing Emotional Intelligence (in myself and in the young people I work with) - see work by Daniel Goleman. Feeling, thinking and doing - this is Public Achievement for me. Yarrow Primary School's young people continue to use PA to work on issues to improve our community and our world. Your blog is great!

Hubert H. Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs