Destination nowhere without a change

Returning guest poster, Teacher Coach Amanda Clegg shares more real life coaching experience in today’s guest post.

Destination nowhere without a change

by Amanda Clegg

A guest post by Amanda Clegg

“If you do not change direction, you may end up where you are heading.”
(Lao Tzu)

As a teacher of some thirty years, I have often seen students with talent and ability throw it all away. The reasons are different, but the waste of opportunity is always the same. Recently I met an ex student in a deserted street, I had sadly permanently excluded him when I was Principal. These situations are never pleasant and I wondered how he would react all these years later.

Luke* noticed me almost as soon as I noticed him. He crossed the street and came right up to me blocking my passage on the pavement. He put out his hand and greeted me in a jovial fashion. I shook it and smiled back as my heart rate and adrenaline levels slowly decreased. He told me he was doing well now and that he had a girlfriend, a job and a flat of his own. He went on to say he was pleased I had taken a hard stance with him, because it was what he needed to make him recognise where he was headed. I cannot tell you the joy that I felt in my heart when we had finished talking. The heartache at the time was all worthwhile. Luke* was only one of two students I had to make the decision to admit we had failed. I now realise that with Luke* we had not failed, but made the right decision to help him on his first step to success.

Recently more so than ever before, I have noticed an increasing lack of willingness by students to even try to answer a question or start a task. For some reason they seem scared of getting it wrong. They do not want to see scored out work or teacher crosses on their pristine work. I am doing my best to get students to have a go and explain I really do not mind if they get it wrong. I deliberately do not rub out my work on the board anymore if I get something wrong. I put a line through it. I actively go overboard at thanking students who have a go at a question but don’t quite get it correct. Later in the lesson or the following one, I will quietly check with this student that they now know the answer. Then you guessed it – I ask them in front of everyone and they give the right answer so being rewarded with a merit (or chocolate or sticker). They have learned from making a mistake.

I told a class about Thomas Edison and how he is reported to have exclaimed “I have not failed, I have just found 10,000 ways that did not work” when experimenting with the light bulb. A lad said “That is inspirational Miss”. I thought he was being flippant, but afterwards he told me he really did find it a good way to look at things.

James and David* did not see how their continued low level disruptive behaviour was affecting their teacher. This is where I came in to try and assist as I was coaching this particular teacher. They did not see that it affected the work they completed or that they did not understand much of the content being taught. James and David* failed to recognise that some of their class mates were getting frustrated by their antics. The more the teacher tried to discipline them, the sillier they became. The class teacher was using all the tools available to her and when she finally had to send them out I took the opportunity to work with them.

We went into the Science work room. I placed four sheets of sugar paper around the room on the walls.

You may not be able to discern exactly what is written on each sheet, however just by looking at the number of comments it is possible to unpick their thinking.

sugar paper answers 1

sugar paper answers 2

It was so interesting to see James and David* work together on this task and the sudden realisation that carrying on the way they were was not going to get them to their destination or preferred future.

This task was adapted from the work of Prochaska and DiClemente on the Cycle of Change. Both boys were certainly in the precontemplation phase during the lesson. They did not realise that their behaviour was having an effect on their future or that of others. It was just a bit of a laugh to pass the time of day.

When I set them a task with the four questions posed above, they were made to think about change and how it would benefit them or how it would be a drawback. The speed of realisation was quite fast and they were both very honest about how the process made them think about what they were doing.

A summary of the stages in the Cycle of Change

1. Precontemplation : I’m not even thinking about change/ I did not realise there was a problem
2. Contemplation: I may change or I may not – I am thinking about it
3. Decision: I have decided to change / I have decided not to change
4. Active Changes: I have started to change
5. Maintenance : I am keeping up with the change/ I have changed
6. Relapse : I have gone backwards

It is important as a coach to recognise and remind yourself that you cannot bring about change in another person. They must want to change themselves. It is their choice to decide whether to make a change or not.

After doing the task, I asked David and James* what they thought about the future and explained to them whatever they did was a choice. They were making a decision.

James said he felt that sounded “heavy” and he had never really thought about it before as being a choice. David said he felt ashamed he was affecting other people’s chances in the class as he was not too bothered about his future as his Dad would always have a job for him. He however was the student saying how hard it was to think and maybe he was doing it because he had lost the knack of thinking through a problem.

As always in a school, life is governed by the bell and the boys went off to their next lesson. The thing that struck me most about this session was that I did not have to do or say anything other than to ask them to be honest and answer the questions on the sugar paper. I have brought the horse to water- will it drink is the question?

I have had many such conversations with young people over the past thirty years and most where I did the “telling” rather than facilitating. I look back to the first part of the blog and wonder if I could have prevented myself and Luke from a lot of angst if I had let him do more of the talking.

*Names have been changed to protect their identity.

Further Reading:

Prochaska,J.O , Norcross, J.C and DiClemente, C.C. ( 2007) Changing for Good, William Morrow & Co.

About Amanda Clegg

Amanda CleggAmanda Clegg has been a science teacher in state secondary schools for almost thirty years. She was a member of a Senior Leadership team for 15 years before being asked to lead a private sixth form college through their initial ISI inspection. The college achieved an outstanding judgement. Amanda now works as an Educational and Coaching Consultant in Oxfordshire and Swindon. She is currently acting as temporary Head of Science two days a week in a local secondary school, as well as being an Associate trainer for Creative Education, co-author of a GCSE revision guide and an Associate Lecturer for UWE on the PGCE programme.

email: cft-acleggatsupanetdotcom

Twitter: @Teachercoach1


Balancing the Push and Pull of Life

In today’s guest post Andrew A. Faccone draws upon his own life experiences and his coaching expertise to share 3 points around life, commitment and time.

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Balancing the Push and Pull of Life ..

By Andrew A. Faccone

“Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance you must keep moving.”

(Albert Einstein)

We are all given 24 hours a day, 1,440 minutes per day and 86,400 seconds per day to use how we see fit.

Those of us reading this post are very fortunate and blessed to choose how we are to use that precious time we are given. That allotted time has a short life span, it must be used immediately and it cannot be carried over. If it is not used properly it expires.

It is our choice to maximize or minimize how we allocate our days, weeks, months and years that we are given in our lifetime. The mystery of life reveals that life is not a straight line, there is no instruction booklet on how to live and we are responsible for our actions.

The attention that we pay to the little things throughout life has a dramatic effect on the outcomes of our life as we progress and mature throughout our lifetime. Since our birth we have all pursued different paths, we have learned, prospered, been knocked down and despite the challenging conditions have succeeded as well as failed in some of our endeavors. The challenges have made us stronger and the shortcomings have taught us what not to repeat in the future. In some cases we are all learning from those shortcomings.

Past events somehow always re-appear at various times throughout our lives. In the time of our youth we pursued our education and the playful desires of our youth. Academics, athletics, music, literature, sciences, religious education, play time with our childhood friends, youth and civic groups, participation with a strong supervision from our families who attended those important life events. They cheered us on in victory and comforted us when the results did not materialize as hoped for.

When our formal education ended we then used our educational backgrounds or God given talents to find a way to make a go of it on our own. Welcome to being a grown up! We now face the commitments of professional life, parenthood, earning a living, providing for our families, advancing our professional careers and now we have become those attendees routing for our family members as they progress through their childhood and young adult activities that we participated in in the not so distant past.

Where is the person who wanted to change the world and make the difference in the world?

Is this life still a life in balance? Is there equal push and pull in our daily activities? Finding that balance, the constant struggle that addresses all of the aspects of our lives. Spirituality, physicality, and mentality.

I am asked many times in all of my personal & professional travels how did I get where I am in life? I have some of the answers to this question and some answers I do not have. I have been blessed to have had some extraordinary people that have been a part of my life. Nine years of a disciplined Catholic school education, athletic participation in high school and college, a loving family along with several key family members who taught me about the true lessons of life and that I can do anything that I set myself to attaining.

I try to rely on 3 key points and try to use them as my daily guide as I try to find a balance between the many commitments I am involved with in my daily life both personally and professionally.

What you say will determine what you will become. I have always been a believer in word affirmations. The words you are projecting will impact your individual outcomes. If you’re not projecting positive words and expecting great things to occur, they will not happen. If you don’t believe something will happen nobody else will. Use those empowering words to get you to where you want to be.

  1. Control The Controllables is the most important piece of our lives’ direction. We cannot control other people or the actions that they undertake, outside events, or decide the specific outcomes for certain situations. We can only control ourselves and our actions; we are accountable to those actions and decisions that we ourselves make. No one else. Do the best you can to work on those goals both short term and long term, work diligently and constantly change your approach to achieve your goals, but understand you can only control what is in front of you. A strong will can conquer anything, but you also have to be realistic in what you undertake.
  2. Have a goal & the end point in mind. We all set out many times to undertake certain projects but never have the end goal in mind. Example: I am going on a diet and lose weight. That statement screams starve yourself and constantly not be satisfied with even losing the smallest amount of weight. Give yourself credit for wanting to lose weight and changing your eating habits. Whenever a new habit is introduced to our lives it takes roughly 28 days to form a new habit. You have to give yourself credit and realize that to be successful and create a new habit it takes time. Having the end point in mind, losing 1-2 pounds weekly and trying to exercise on a more regular basis is a realistic goal & plan. It is not where you are it’s the direction that you are headed that counts. Keep that goal of where you want to be ever present in your daily actions. You’ll be surprised what you can attain.
  3. Enjoy the journey Life is full of surprises, challenges, and lot of unexpected “things “occur. When life throws the unexpected curve at us daily, which it does to us at some point, we need to readjust and get yourself back on track of the task at hand. Interruptions, issues, something totally unexpected is going to occur. Deal with it quickly and to the best of your ability and get back to what you were you were doing. Once that event has occurred put it in the rear view mirror and move on. Tony Robbins, noted author & motivational speaker, referenced the statement ‘the past does not equal the future’. It is so true. We all need to be aware of this statement and realize that we are doing the best that we can, with the time we have to enjoy each day with its many challenges and surprises.

Life is an attitude -have a good one and you will enjoy the wonderful journey. When you start to make these new adjustments in your daily activities, changes in those daily habits, week after week, month after month, and year after year you will start to recognize that new person in the mirror who you have not seen in some time. Start small but think big, because you can do it, great things are coming your way… it all depends on you!

About the Author/Further Resources

Andrew Faccone, MBA is employed in the healthcare industry as a long term care account specialists in the United States near the New York Metropolitan area. Andrew has over 18 years experience as an athlete,& coach positively impacting the lives of athletes he has coached. Andrew is available for speaking engagements of any size or location and individual coaching sessions.

Contact Andrew A. Faccone at or

Linkedin :

Cell Phone 732 614 8425 Eastern Time Zone


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