Applying My Background in Teaching as a Coach and Trainer

It’s been a while (seems so long ago) that I left being a secondary teacher. I spent four years learning about educating children;focusing on junior high to high school levels and their cognitive development. When I became a statistic and left teaching behind, I did beat myself up for all that work and stress going to school with all the  “m-catters” to be a science teacher and nothing to show. So I thought.

Now, I find myself going back to my education background and utilizing the skills I was taught to understand and better teach teenagers- (mini adults). How does this apply to being an agile coach and trainer? Lots! Let’s focus on the subject of cognitive development/skills.


The cognitive development theory segments and categorizes the characteristics of students at different stages in their growth. Cognitive development is important to a teacher in planning lessons and managing a classroom at various grade levels. Let’s focus on high school level (adulthood spans 60 years usually starting at 20, but in current times it starts in high school)  for this conversation and comparison to adults out in the professional world.

Cognitive changes during early, middle and later adulthood:



  • Early adulthood is a time of relativistic thinking, in which young people begin to become aware of more complexities in life.
  • Two forms of intelligence – crystallized and fluid – are the main focus of middle adulthood.
  • Crystallized intelligence is dependent upon accumulated knowledge and experience, and this makes steady gains throughout middle adulthood. Fluid intelligence is more dependent on basic-information processing skills and starts to decline even prior to mid-adulthood.
  • Late adulthood cognition becomes more focused, and elderly people tend to make the most of their cognitive abilities through goal-centered use.
  • In CDF (constructive developmental framework), the development of post formal-operational thinking in an adult is indicated primarily by the presence of dialectical thinking.Source: Boundless. “Cognitive Development in Adulthood.”

Cognitive Development – A teacher should…

  • Without giving up more concrete instructional tools such as charts, illustrations, graphs, and diagrams, move students toward higher-order thinking whenever possible by encouraging them to explain how they solve problems
    • In agile, I encourage teams to solve their own problems; becoming a self-organizing team that does not look to others (managers or leaders) to figure out problems that are in their power to change and resolve. I am a BIG fan of anything visual and interactive. It is always encouraged.
  •  Create projects that enable students to experience the tasks and dilemmas of professionals in the disciplines your subject area represents
    • This natural happens in an agile team as they are brought together for this exact reason.

Socio-emotional Development- a teacher should…

  • Be acutely aware of social pressures and anxieties among students
  • Actively encourage non-violent conflict resolution
  • Attempt to ease anxiety about the future by offering assistance about career choices and options for higher education
  •  Recognize that students may be reluctant to risk their self-esteem and egos when asked to try a new skill in front of peers
  • Develop, support and enforce policies against gender-related harassment

All the above sound familiar in the workplace and similar to what an agile coach deals with in teams?


These are just a few examples mentioned above how I apply my background as a secondary teacher everyday as an agile coach, mentor and trainer. Today, I know those four years were not done in vain anymore. They made me who I am today-with much joy, appreciation and gratitude to say I was a teacher in my past life.




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