Last academic year I embarked upon a coaching course with 9 of my colleagues. During the course we went through various coaching strategies, the purpose of coaching and how we can implement it into our daily practise. We were given recommended reading and I have to admit I am only getting round to some of the books on that list now. I have just started reading: The Coaching Habit: Say Less, Ask More & Change the Way Your Lead Forever by Michael Bungay Stanier. If you are interested, he has some interesting videos on coaching which you can find at

One of the first thing the book talks about is changing your habits. This is in the context of that most of us will be used to giving advice and jumping in quickly to solve other people’s problems. The premise of coaching however is to stop giving advice, ask powerful questions and empower others to reach their own solutions.

Bungay suggests that to change our behaviour we need to:

  1. Identify the trigger (the more specific this can be the better)
  2. Identify the old habit
  3. Define the new behaviour (this should be short and specific and achievable within 60 seconds)

So for example:

  1. When Tommy in year 11, during a period 5, talks across the classroom
  2. Instead of shouting at Tommy …
  3. I will walk over to Tommy, bend down to the same height and calmly talk to Tommy about his behaviour.

Bungay argues that a lot of the time we don’t change our behaviour because we try to change too much at once instead of breaking it down. Someone he knows decided to floss one tooth after brushing their teeth. This normally turns into him flossing his whole mouth but the target of 1 tooth is manageable and achievable within 60 seconds.

This made me start thinking about our students. There is a lot of talk and debate going on in my school about do our students actually know what revision is? Do they actually know how to revise? My question now becomes, do our students know how to change their behaviour to create good revising habits? How many times when we talk to our students do we eventually reach that they do know how to revise but they just don’t get into the habit of it. They became distracted by their phone, or their x-box or their mates. Should we be talking to our students about how to change their behaviour?


  1. When I get home and go upstairs to my room
  2. Instead of turning my x-box on straight away
  3. I will test myself on one flashcard

Could you imagine the reaction of our students? You only want me to look at one flashcard? You only want me to answer one question? We would obviously hope that this would lead to them completing more questions but if this was the first step to helping our students create good habits would it not be worth trying? What if we taught this to our year 7 students? If we managed to encourage them to change their behaviour then by year 11 we would hope that they would have good revising habits.

I am certainly going to give this a go with my students and I am intrigued to see where this will lead.

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