ERG from a Coach’s Perspective
It’s easy to forget that the brain needs workouts just like any other part of the body. The truth is most people get through life just fine without working out at all, but what parent envisions “just fine” for their child’s future? Real strength-of any kind-requires hard work and commitment. Just like any other coach, I push right up to a student’s limits, because only through that continued effort will the improvements come. More than strength, the brain needs to be conditioned, too. Oftentimes it seems as though you’re dealt what you’re dealt, and that’s that. The thing is, those skills can be built up, in many cases. Of course, there’s no magic bullet for erasing cognitive or executive functioning struggles, and everyone has their own unique situation, but with a little know-how and a lot of commitment real changes can begin to take place.
I’ve been working at the Educational Resource Group for about a year and a half now, and I have genuinely been blown away with some of the experiences I’ve had here. When I initially applied to this job, I assumed from the description of the center that I would be up for a job as an aide or a tutor. At the time, I was in college for a degree in clinical psychology, and the thought of having a job that applied to these things at the same time I was studying them was beyond exciting. Needless to say, I was hired, but that was really just the beginning, because even though Dr. Perez and the rest of management knew I was qualified, I still had to be trained.
The first training I attended was essentially a two-day seminar with Dr. Perez where I-alongside three or four other trainees-learned the ins and outs of the Woodcock-Johnson IV, the Conners, and the BRIEF-2: some of the assessments we use here to determine students’ strengths and weaknesses for the purposes of planning a personalized program or qualifying for in-school accommodations. Before I could be certified as an assessor, I had to conduct and score several full practice assessments, including one observed by Dr. Perez, so it was clear whether or not I knew what I was doing. I also did separate trainings for executive skills coaching, standardized test preparation coaching, and cognitive training, which were even more intense and took several weeks each to complete.
In the time I’ve been an active coach and assessor here, I’ve seen students go from failing every class to getting Honor Roll consistently, other students completely turn around their attentiveness and cooperation, student gain 300 points overall on the SAT, and several students with significant difficulties have made so much progress it warms my heart writing about it. Students often complain about the difficulty of the work that they have to do here or the fact that they have to come at all, but there comes a point when they start to see the improvements in themselves. They stop calling themselves stupid or saying that something is impossible. They get revved up when they’re close to passing a level instead of dreading it and expecting to fail. Once they reach that point, confidence may waver occasionally, but they will begin to see the possibilities that will open up to them.