Juvenile criminal


Can a juvenile criminal be turned away from a potential life of crime in one conversation?


The Coach in the Classroom

Written by Co-Active Coach Martin Richards

The purpose of this book is to explore the question:

What happens when you use a coaching

approach in an educational environment?





What is a Coaching Approach?................................................................4

Developing your coaching approach skills.............................................4

How to use this Book.................................................................................5


Chapter 1: Inspiring Teenagers...............................................................27

Chapter 2: Attitude Makes a Difference................................................57

Chapter 3: Two Teachers’ Strategies......................................................75

Chapter 4: Classroom Fight.....................................................................93

Chapter 5: Give Up and Continue........................................................107

Chapter 6: Reading Aloud from the Book...........................................123

Chapter 7: More Talk, Less Control.....................................................139

Chapter 8: Wake Up Call.......................................................................169

Chapter 9: The Juvenile Criminal.........................................................187

Chapter 10: The Ambassador................................................................207

The Midwinter Vigil...............................................................................227

All rights reserved.

Copyright 2017, (c) Martin Richards, Gothenburg, Sweden.

Web www.martinrichards.eu



This book is the result of many collaborations, collaboration with the

many fictional characters portrayed in this book and collaboration

with real, living people, of whom the following deserve heartfelt

and special mentions:

Hetty Brand Boswijk, CPCC, for partnering with me in

our quest to write a book together. It is an ongoing

journey of learnings and revelations.

Michele Helman, CPCC, for accelerating and easing

the final stages of writing, reading and supportively

commenting on the need for this book to be published.

Elizabeth Nostedt, ACC, DTM, PMP for proofing and

commenting on an early version of the manuscript.

Vicky Jo Varner, PCC, CPCC, for repeatedly and

meticulously proofing and commenting on the later


Jenny Geuken, for the original cover artwork.


What is a Coaching Approach?

Certified coaches use a coaching approach, on the inside. A coaching

approach names what is happening inside their bodies and inside

their minds, while they are coaching. It could be called the hidden

skill of coaching, because it’s hidden. It is not always visible in what

they do, nor audible in what they say. It is, however, apparent in

what they do not do, and what they do not say. Certified coaches do

not, for example, judge the person they are coaching. That takes

practice. Nor do they offer their opinions or experience. That takes

even more practice. Not judging and not giving advice are two of

the most powerful hidden coaching skills. There are coaching skills

that are visible and audible, they include: asking great questions,

and listening actively.

Teaching using a 'Coaching Approach' is carrying out the work of a

teacher and 'making use of the skills of a coach'. The combination is


Teachers who use a coaching approach, interact with students in an

authentic, self-developing, reflective manner. A description of the

coach's mind-set appears gradually in all the stories in this book, an

especially in Anthony's notes at the start of each campfire story.

Developing your coaching approach skills

Whatever your professional background, the best places to start

developing your coaching approach are the the hidden skills of:

Active listening


Holding back personal opinions and advice

Being comfortable with not knowing what is right or wrong

Not knowing what will happen next.






The Coach in the Classroom


Chapter 9: The Juvenile Criminal

Riccardo has been coaching several teachers at this secondary school

for some weeks. This was a school with clear and multiple

challenges that were causing the teachers major worries. Students

would disrupt lessons, some would leave lessons without

permission, and roam the corridors getting into trouble. Some

students had been kicked out of lessons – the teacher had made it

clear that they were not welcome in their classroom. There was a

high turnover of teachers and headteachers.

Recently, the school board had employed two counsellors to support

the students during their last school years. One of the counsellors

was Jason, a middle-aged man, who had signed up for individual

coaching with Riccardo.

Jason opened the door to Riccardo. "Come in and have a seat," he

said, waving at the two sofas set at right angles in the corner of the

room. Jason’s busy hand movements reminded Riccardo of an

industrious bee. Jason had a pleasant face with almond-shaped rosecoloured

eyes. He was very short and had an athletic build. Riccardo

jealously eyed Jason’s thick, wavy, golden hair that looked like a

sunlit cloud drifting above his head. Jason’s wardrobe was

professional yet mysterious. He wore second-hand clothes from

another era, a waistcoat that was mostly green and a fine white

cotton shirt that rustled when Jason moved.

Riccardo sat down, ready to design the alliance that was needed to

support Jason in whatever it was he wanted to develop.

Jason asked, "How shall we get started?"

"Could you tell me something about your background?"


"I used to work as a social worker in the local housing estate. There's

a lot of unemployment, drug abuse and criminality there. Not to

mention the wife-beating and gang activity. We were a team of eight

social workers assigned to the area. We did what we could, but I

always felt that we could do better with earlier intervention, so I

looked for a placement at a secondary school. I started here a couple

of years ago. I'm beginning to find my feet now."

"What is it that you do here?

"I am the first contact for kids who have skipped class. I call them

up, go to their homes if needed and persuade them to come back to

school, and help them to catch up. Then there's the removals, the

ones the teachers refuse to have in class. I help them plan their own

lessons, to study in the library and keep up with the course. I don't

teach, except Maths and English. Sometimes I get help from other

teachers for that. Then there's kids whose violent tempers cannot be

controlled by discipline. Some are on medication."

"That sounds like you are a special needs teacher?"

"We have those at the school too, but they are overwhelmed with

cases. Basically, I help the kids be in school, do what they can, to

realise that they can do better. Hopefully, I can get them to aspire to

something better."

"What do you need from me?"

"I have most of my meetings with students in this room. You could

observe what I do, see what I do, give me some pointers on what I

could do better."

Riccardo baulked, "Pointers? I don’t give pointers; I simply listen

and ask questions, and then listen again."

Jason added with curiosity, "That sounds refreshing."

Riccardo wondered, "Having an observer will be interesting for the

student. What do they know about what we are doing?"

"Nothing. Haven't thought about it yet."


"It needs some thought but for now we need to focus on our

working relationship. What do you need to know about me?"

"You are a coach. That's a bit like a counsellor, isn't it?"

"Perhaps. What do you think is the same?"

"We ask good questions and we listen well."

"Thanks for the compliment. What else?"

"I don't know. What would you say?"

"At a guess, I'd say that we have confidentiality in common, and a

working relationship built on trust is important for us both,"

suggested Riccardo.

"That's true. Trust is a huge issue for some of the kids I'm working

with. It's taken me a whole year to connect with some of them, they

don't trust adults easily."

"Which is why I was wondering how an observation in this small

room would work out."

"It won't work with every kid here. But maybe one or two? One that

comes to mind, his name is…"

Riccardo interrupted, "I don't need to know his name. It's better if

you don't tell me. But you could tell me something about his

background? Not too much though. Just two minutes."

"Maybe it's enough to say that he recently got caught out of a lesson,

carry out a drug transaction in the school playground."

"What happened?"

"His teacher was in pieces. She was torn between the needs of the

students in the class and the needs of this one student in the

playground. She sat there, on the sofa and cried about how

impossible it was to be there for every student," Jason described.

"So you counsel the teachers too?"


"Sometimes. When there is a need for it. And the parents. His

mother was upset to discover that her son was dealing drugs. We

think he is involved in one of the local gangs. He's been in trouble

with the police since he was fourteen."

"You seem to be involved in the whole social structure around each

of your students."

"In some cases, I know the parents from my previous work."

"And, this boy is one I could observe you working with?"

"Yes. We can all see exactly where this boy is headed, prison."

"What needs to happen before I observe you and this boy?"

"I need to speak with him, to make sure he's OK with you being in

the room."

"What will you tell him about what you and I are doing?"

"I will say that you are a coach, my coach and that you have come to

watch me work"

"So, you want me to be silent?"

"No, actually. Come to think of it. You could be part of the


"If I am part of it, it's not an observation."

"No, that's true," Jason agreed.

"There's something other than observation and coaching playing out here.

I wonder what it is?" enquired Riccardo's inner voice. "I will ask," replied


"What is it you really want?"

"What I want is for you to coach him and for me to observe you!"

"Wow. I wasn't expecting that. What do you expect will come of it?"

"A different perspective."


"If we could find a way to do that, for me to coach and for you to

observe, I would be relying on your relationship with the boy."

"We would do it together. We have had social workers and the

police in here with him before, on several occasions. We have all

warned him about where he's headed."

"How has that worked out?

"Perhaps he needs something other than a warning from us?"

"If we do this, how can we get it to work out for the best for all of


"I will tell him that you will be here, and that you are a coach, and

we want the best for him."

"How do we decide when you are counselling him and when I am

coaching him?"

"I can start, then I will introduce you. And we can see where it goes.

Is there anything else you and I need to agree on?"

Riccardo clarified, "I want it to be clear that he's still your case, your

student. You are responsible for him. You are borrowing my

coaching expertise. And when you feel the timing is right, you take

over. I will move aside, no harm done."


"This feels refreshing and exciting. What do you hope to learn?"

"I want to see what happens when you don't give him any pointers. I

think you could get a different result that we have so far."


When the boy came into the counsellor, Jason's room, Riccardo

immediately saw he was an ordinary boy, except for the fact that his

eyes darted everywhere. He moved his head much like a bird, and

seemed to be looking for something, or looking out for something,

Riccardo wasn’t sure which. The boy radiated a lot of energy and it

seemed as though the room became both brighter and hotter as he

walked in. The boy looked Riccardo up and down, querying why he

was there, but not actually asking the question.

Jason introduced them and portrayed Riccardo as a coach, a life

coach. With this opening, Riccardo aimed to connect with the boy.

Riccardo faced the boy and said, "I work with people who are in the

process of making a decision, who want it to be the best decision for

their lives. I don’t give advice; I simply listen and ask questions, and

then listen again."

The boy looked around the room in silence.

Riccardo continued, "Is it okay with you that I’m here today? Jason

asked me to come in and give some support. We both want the best

for you, but it will be you who decides what the ‘best’ is, and who

can help you, or not. Is it okay that I am a coach here for you today?"

The boy shrugged and mumbled, "It’s okay I suppose."

During his attempt to connect with him, Riccardo tried to maintain

eye contact, but the boy looked away most of the time and scanned

the room instead.

"But is he paying attention?" asked the voice in Riccardo’s head. "Yes, he

is listening; he is using his eyes, not his ears."

"So what’s the choice we are making today?" Riccardo asked.

"High school," Jason replied. The boy laughed.

"Or a job," added Jason. "As long as it’s not prison," he blurted with

a warning tone.


Riccardo asked the boy with genuine curiosity, "How good a choice

is prison? What’s good about it?".

"That’s where he will end up if he doesn’t change his ways,"

threatened Jason.

Looking directly at the boy, Riccardo asked, "How does that sound

to you?"

The boy replied, "No good, but I don’t care."

"The door is open," said the voice in Riccardo’s mind. "He cares. What

does he care about?" "I will find out," Riccardo replied silently.

Riccardo asked the boy, "What do you care about? What is

important to you?"

The boy looked at him, shrugged, and answered, "Nothing."

"Sometimes it can be difficult to find the best words to say what’s

important, especially when it’s important. May I make a

suggestion?" offered Riccardo.

"Okay," the boy’s eyes narrowed.

"I’m guessing, and it’s only a guess, that respect is important to you.

How important is respect to you?"

The boy seemed to hiss in reply, "You gotta get respect, you gotta

get respect. It’s important."

"What else?" Riccardo asked, and waited.

"Being strong, you got to be strong or people don’t respect you, it’s


"What else?" Riccardo asked, and waited again.

"I don’t know," the boy pulled away slightly.

"You’re losing him; you’re making him work too hard; you’re making him

work for you. Make him work for himself. Demonstrate the value of

knowing what’s important."


"These questions can be hard work I know. Let’s see whether Jason

can answer some of these questions." Riccardo directed his gaze to

Jason and prepared to pose the same questions. Jason shifted in his

seat. He appeared to have become uncomfortable.

Riccardo hesitated. "Before I ask you any questions Jason, perhaps I

should ask how important is it for you to know what is important to


Jason laughed. "Good question. If I knew what was important, really

important, I could focus on that and do nothing else. I’d get a lot of

things done; nothing would get in my way; I’d be really, you know,


"How clear are you right now on what’s important? I mean as a


"Well, maybe sixty percent," Jason said. "No, make that seventy

percent. Okay, seventy percent."

"That’s a lot of numbers," said the voice. "What about feelings?"

Riccardo quietly asked, "How do you feel about that Jason?"

"I feel like it should be eighty percent or ninety percent, I mean I’m

in my forties now. I should know what I’m doing." Jason paused,

becoming reflective and quiet. "It feels embarrassing," he concluded.

"That will do," noted the inner voice. "Now what about the boy?"

Riccardo turned to the boy. "You see. What I do as a coach is ask

questions and listen and ask more questions. I ask questions about

how happy people are with the choices they are making. I ask

questions that help people to hear what they are saying to

themselves. And I help them to see other choices they could make. I

don’t make the choices. That’s up to them. It’s their life and they can

live it as they wish. There are no right or wrong answers to the

questions. May I ask you some more?"

"Sure, go ahead," allowed the boy.


"What if you knew what was important to you? How would it help

you make choices in your life?" inquired Riccardo.

"I know what’s important to me! Respect, and strength, and power,

and money, and having a good time, and doing what you want,"

blurted the boy.

"What else?" Riccardo asked, and waited.

"What do you mean?" the boy replied. "Isn’t that enough?"

"Sure, it might be, and there might be more things, and some of the

things might be more important than others. Would you like to look

at that?" asked Riccardo.

"What do you mean ‘look at’ that?" demanded the boy.

"It can be difficult to juggle these things," Riccardo countered and

mimed juggling with his hands, "to hear what’s important more

than what you’ve already said. I have some suggestions. Would it be

okay if I show them to you? They’re on pieces of paper, and they’re

in my pocket. I always bring them with me. People tell me that it

makes answering the questions a lot easier. If you like, I can show

them to you."

"If you want." The boy threw out the words.

"Words on paper," said the voice in Riccardo’s head. "You have

moved from spoken words to written words. Clever!"

Riccardo had a pack of values cards in his pocket, cards with singleword

descriptions of fifty common values. He pulled out the first

card. The word "Money" was written on it. Riccardo asked, "How

important is money to you?"

"Really important, I want a lot of money. Millions." The boy laughed

and Riccardo gave him the card as though he were giving him

millions. The boy held the card tightly in his right hand.


Riccardo pulled the next card out of the deck. It read "Family."

Showing him the card, Riccardo asked, "How important is family to


The boy winced. "Not at all, not at all; I don’t give a damn," he lied.

Riccardo held onto the card and reflected back to him, "Your voice is

loud when you say you don’t give a damn."

"Yeah, well, I don’t have a dad and my mum is weak." The boy

yelled, "Family is not important to me; I’m never going to have

children; I don’t want them!"

Riccardo put the card face down off to one side, and pulled out the

next card. It said "Trust." Riccardo asked, "How important is trust to


The boy paused and thought it over. "I don’t trust anyone," he

finally said.

"Does that make trust important or not important to you?" Riccardo


"It’s not important. But it is." The boy stumbled over his words.

Riccardo kept the card and reached for the next card in the deck.

"Can I have that one?" the boy asked.

"If it’s important to you," said Riccardo offhandedly.

"Yes, give it to me," demanded the boy,

They both paused to savour the moment, to understand.

Riccardo asked, "What just happened?"

"I don’t know," the boy replied. He paused for a long time, and then

asked, "What are the other cards?"

"You are holding onto control; maybe it’s time to let go," said the voice in

his head. "I will let go," Riccardo replied.


Riccardo inquired, "What’s the best way of doing this? Shall I go

through the cards one by one, or will you take all of them and

choose what’s important to you?"

"Give them to me," demanded the boy, grabbing for the cards.

Riccardo gave the boy the cards and pulled back a little to give him

space. Riccardo exchanged glances with Jason to check in on how it

was going. They nodded and smiled, as if in acknowledgement of

what had just happened.

Riccardo invited the boy to spread his chosen values cards out on

the table. As soon as they were spread out, it became clear why the

boy had chosen to join a criminal gang. That’s where most of his

higher values would be met.

"What are you going to do with this?" asked the voice inside Riccardo’s

head. "I will let the boy do the work," Riccardo replied.

Waving his hand over the cards, Riccardo asked the boy, "What

would be a good job title for all these?"

After a few seconds of study, the boy replied, "Police!" And then

after a pause, "Fireman!"

"What does it take to become a fireman?" Riccardo asked Jason, who

leaned forward and quickly began describing what a fireman does

and what must be learned to fill that role.

"Perhaps we could make it more visual?" pleaded Riccardo, having

realized the boy thought more in pictures than words. Jason looked

at Riccardo and shrugged.

"How much of this is yours to do?" queried the voice in Riccardo’s

head. "As much as is needed to empower these two to move ahead,"

Riccardo answered.

"Can you find a picture of a fireman on the ‘net?" invited Riccardo,

pointing to the nearby computer equipment. Both the boy and Jason

quickly understood what was being requested, and why.


The boy found a suitable image, pasted his face into the picture, and

added his name beneath. Meanwhile, Jason located the website of a

local high school for the uniformed forces; courses for the Fire

Brigade, Police Force, and others were offered. He printed out a

checklist of the requirements and an application form.

Whilst Jason and the boy became engrossed in the application form,

Riccardo quietly left for his next appointment.

Although Riccardo never met the boy again during his brief time at

the school, he heard that he had received tuition during the Easter

Break in an effort to help him complete his core studies before he

was given a final grade. Several teachers made themselves available

during the break from normal school hours. As one teacher put it,

"As long as he keeps coming to [the school], I will keep on working

with him." There seemed to be an unspoken agreement that every

small effort at this stage would save a mountain of work later

should the boy otherwise choose to follow a criminal path.

Riccardo did not know what happened to the boy after he left

school. Until yesterday. Now they are sitting on a mountainside,

drinking tea, eating food, and emptying out Riccardo’s wardrobe of

stories, sharing his life experiences of coaching teachers. And he

knows the boy’s name is Anthony.


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