In the third week of January, College Possible Catalyze coaches participated in a retreat at College Possible’s national office in St. Paul. The mid-year retreat was an opportunity for coaches to build community and skills moving into the second half of coaches’ terms of service, and included team-building activities, idea sharing and time to focus on coaching through growth mindset, personal narrative and strengths.
The retreat was also an opportunity for coaches to share their expertise, experience and skills with each other. Two Augsburg University coaches, Alex Billington and Elana Lambert, led discussions that dug into the topics of first-generation student support and leadership styles. Reflecting that coaches at an institution are often collaborating on student support and acting as leaders within their team, Elana said, “I think it’s so important to recognize the strengths that people bring to a group because each one is so important.”
As a returning coach, Elana also reflected on the chance to strengthen ties with fellow coaches. “It was reenergizing to be together in person with the other coaches and learn from each other.” Now in her second term of coaching, Elana noted one of the most meaningful aspects of being a coach is “the relationship with the other coaches and learning from their experiences… The retreat experience was important for building community among the coaches, sharing experiences, and learning more about specific coaching topics and skills.”
Additionally, University of Cincinnati coach Anahita Sharma led her peers through a training session about microagressions, which the University of Cincinnati defines as “brief and commonplace daily verbal, behavioral, or environmental slights, whether intentional or unintentional, that communicate hostile, derogatory, or negative messages and insults toward minority groups or individual minority group members.” As Anahita said, “It was powerful to see both coaches and staff genuinely and intentionally engaged in racial justice content.”
Given the geographic distance between coaches, the mid-year retreat was an important way to enhance relationships that are maintained virtually the rest of the year.
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