Education, Mindset and Coaching: The Power of Believing in your Students with Founder of The Mindset Lab, Rachel Stuart: Podcast Transcript

Ludo Millar
Hello, and welcome to the Qualified Tutor Podcast, the podcast that brings you the latest in the world of tutoring EdTech and education and hopefully inspires in us a big change that each and every one of us is capable of.

Qualified Tutor is an industry-leading tutor training organisation and an online tutoring community for 1000s of tutors around the world. This podcast is the voice of this community, where we aim to hear from tutors, teachers, entrepreneurs, coaches, business experts, students, tutor printers, and more from the world of tutoring about what inspires them every day, how they can help tutors like you and what they’ve learned about tutoring along the way.

The question is, what will you learn today?

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Ludo Millar 1:38
Hello, and welcome to this episode of the Qualified Tutor Podcast. My name is Ludo Millar, the host of this podcast. Welcome back to regular listeners, welcome to any of you for whom this is your first time listening to the Qualified Tutor Podcast. And, of course a huge welcome to our guest today, Rachel Stuart.

Now, as a brief introduction to Rachel, Rachel is the Founder of The Mindset Lab, which is an organisation that helps GCSE and A-level students (that’s 16 to 18 year old students, for listeners based outside the UK), it helps those students achieve their potential and gain that all important place at university, at a higher education institution. Amongst other things. I’ll let Rachel go into details of what else The Mindset Lab does, but Rachel is and I’m sure you’ll work this out over the course of the next 25 minutes or so hugely passionate about inclusion, and supporting children with special educational needs and disabilities (what we know as SEND, maybe the first time you’ve heard that term). And this is in no small part due to her own family, kids’ situation which I will let Rachel touch on if she’d like. So if you or your students struggle with having the right skill, the right will, the right mindset. Then listen up and listen in. This is what Rachel does day in day out through her student-focused and evidence-based coaching programmes. So a lot to unpack there. And we’ve got a really great conversation lined up for the next as I said 25 minutes or so. Welcome Rachel. Thank you so much for being here.

Rachel Stuart 4:23
Oh, thank you. Thank you for having me.

Ludo Millar 4:26
I can’t really believe I’m saying this but this is your first podcast appearance, isn’t it?

Rachel Stuart 4:31
This is my first podcast appearance indeed. So I’m very excited to be to be part of it and see how it goes.

Ludo Millar 4:37
Yeah, absolutely. Thank you so much for- feeling very privileged and lucky that the Qualified Tutor Podcast is your first podcast appearance hopefully and I’m sure the first of many, but as regular listeners know there is a question that we start with almost every time as a great way to get to know our guests and this episode. So it will be no different. Rachel, I’m sorry, if we’re following the same format, in this podcast. But that question is, Rachel, what is your why?

Rachel Stuart 5:13
So, I guess my why is probably three things I’d say. And I am really passionate about the power of education, and passionate about the power of coaching, and also the power of mindset. And I think it’s a combination of those things, that has led me to do what I do now. So in terms of education, a bit about my background, so I’m the youngest of four. And from a working class background, and solo parent family, and no one of my family had been to university before me, and I’m from North Scotland, we didn’t have a car, money was always quite tight. And I just vividly remember like hanging out in winter in boss stops waiting for bosses that sometimes didn’t come. And people used to say to me, if you stick in at school, you’ll do well, and you’ll get a good job. And I think, really, that’s what gave me the passion to or the determination really to sort of, yeah, to do well at school. So I was a straight A student, I’ve got a first class degree in chemical engineering, I went on to university. And I don’t say that to impress you, but rather to sort of Express you that when you’ve got that desire, that motivation, actually you can go on and do things that perhaps you haven’t necessarily seen role modelled firsthand. So I really believe in, in the power of education to change lives and the power of education to give students choices and opportunities, and by no means is a guarantee to happiness and success. But I definitely think that having good qualifications can help to stack the deck in your favour. And then in terms of my passion about coaching, and that really started, I spent most of my career at Lloyds Banking Group. So I never did chemical engineering.

After my degree, I was alright at exams, I could do that. But I would not have been a good chemical engineer. So most of my career was in banking. And when I got my first management job, I was trained as a sales manager job. And I was trained on a coaching course called Coaching Performance by a guy called John Whitmore, it’s quite a famous book in the coaching world. And I really loved and was inspired by the ability to ask questions, to help people work things out for themselves. So to raise people’s self awareness to raise their belief, their belief in themselves and to go on and achieve goals. And then I guess, mindset is really part of that for me. So I really believe that the pictures we paint in our heads and the words that we tell ourselves, has a big power in in terms of influencing what we go on then to achieve. So it’s probably a bit of a long winded answer, but it’s probably those things education, mindset, and coaching that have amalgamated together really into what is now Mindset Lab.

Ludo Millar 8:14
Look at that. A brief history of Mindset Lab. I love those backstories. And I think they tell us so much. And there was so much to unpack in just that, that response there. So I guess where I’d like to head next is how and why have you transferred that to academic coaches, for students? How does that all tie in to helping students with their learning?

Rachel Stuart 8:44
So I’ve always been really passionate about entrepreneurship or being self-employed, and always had a passion to really run my own business. And I trained as a mentor through Lloyds as part of the corporate social responsibility. And I used to help small and medium size businesses local to me, and I loved that. And I thought I’d love to be able to make a difference in the work that I do and to start a business that I’m passionate about. And then literally, it came to me the idea one day on the train when I thought, do you know, I’ve worked with a lot of people at Lloyds that work that we are- I think this is the other bit of the backstory, and they were often director level or senior managers or heads of department. And often when you got talking to them, they haven’t necessarily done well at school. So back in the day, you could leave school at 16 and get a job at a counter in your local bank branch. And, you know, work your way up into some quite senior roles. And I sort of figured that actually has nothing to do with these people’s intelligence or capability. This was just that the skills that they clearly possessed in spades now, they didn’t have or there was a readiness issue when they were younger. They weren’t able to use them. So yeah, this idea on the train one day I thought, ‘Wow, if I could take some of the skills that we learned in business and the skills I know about coaching and performance coaching, and bring those to students at a much younger age, I could really help people, potentially, you know, change the course of their lives’.

That sounds quite a big game. But, you know, to really help those skills for success, because I think a lot of those basic skills for success are the same. Whether you’re 17, or you know, 57, a lot of the skills are very transferable. So yeah, so that’s why I started started my academic coaching business two and a half years ago.

Ludo Millar 10:42
Okay, and the million dollar question, do you prefer working with students or with adults in your coaching?

Rachel Stuart 10:49
So I love working with both actually, but clearly the majority of my work now is with students. And I think there’s something really inspiring about working with young people that I really enjoy, I work with schools as well as individuals, but I do still work with some adults. So I work with adults who have decided to go back and resit their GCSE or resit their A levels. And the oldest client I’ve got currently is 54. And she has had a divorce, she works for the NHS, and she just really wants to go to university, and get a degree. So I still work with some adults. But clearly the bulk of what I do is with with young people,

Ludo Millar 11:34
That’s amazing. I wonder how the goal setting and changes between- because that’s a big part of mindset work and mindset theory isn’t is, is being able to achieve the now by looking to the future and plotting out those steps between now and that future point, whenever that is. So for GCSE and A levels, there’s obviously quite a definite goal, which is to do well or to achieve a certain grade at GCSE or at A level. And that maybe becomes a little bit harder when you don’t have concrete goals like that. But how does goal setting tie into the work you do? Why do students need to set goals?

Rachel Stuart 12:23
So students, I guess they don’t need to set goals. But I think it’s really helpful if they can set goals. And that’s certainly a really important part of the work that I do with students is to encourage them to set goals. And often, the main goal that we work on, which is often quite concrete, and the easiest one for them to say is what do they want to do in their exam? So what kind of grades do they want to get? And then we think about why do they want to get those grades? Why are they important to them? And then we move from that into what are the habits that you need to achieve those goals because clearly any goal without the hard work to go along with it is unlikely to be achieved. So we think about what you need to stop, start and continue. And another key part of goal setting, which a lot of students sort of consciously have never thought about. And I always ask students to along with their goals is what do you need to believe about yourself, your abilities and your intelligence if you’re going to want to achieve that goal, because that is often the real root of either challenges or successes is that innate self belief and confidence. And that’s one of the key things that I work on with students. And I think when I work with older adults who are perhaps coming back to education, their long term goals are very clear, they’ve come back to this for a specific reason. And they know what they want to achieve. Whereas a lot of young people aren’t quite sure. But they think actually, let me just do the best that I can sort of with what’s in front of me. And that’s what we work with, you know, we don’t need to know what we want to do at 25 or what we want to study even at university, let’s just try and do the best what we can see right now. And then as the months move on, you know, those other questions and answers will become clearer to them. So that’s, that’s why I think goals are important and, and also, because I think goals really under pin your resilience and your motivation. If you were strongly aligned to achieving something, it’s much more easy, you know, when you’ve got that vision to kind of keep going on those days where you would rather not be studying.

Ludo Millar 14:36
Yeah, that’s such an important point. And it’s funny because often, you know, I talk about setting goals with the students that I work with. And I’m not always that good at setting my own goals. So, Rachel without wanting to put you on the spot too much, do you set your own goals? Are you able to stick by them? What do you tell yourself if you set a goal that you then aren’t able to stick by?

Rachel Stuart 15:09
Yeah, it’s really interesting, actually, because I’m sure for any of your listeners who are self-employed, or who are, you know, running a business. That actually, you know, quite often it’s not as easy to achieve the goals that we want to and it’s just, you know, but like exams, you’ve got to be prepared to fail, you’ve got to be prepared to experiment. And, you know, so do I achieve all the goals I set for myself? No, I don’t, I think I’m quite resilient in, you know, keeping going, I think, yes. So this year, for the first time, I actually did a vision board. I’m not sure if you’ve ever done one of them.

Ludo Millar 15:46
I’m not sure I have.

Rachel Stuart 15:49
But I did for the first time. And I have it just to the right of me. Now, I did some imagery just on one A4 page of the things that I wanted to achieve. And even now we’re in March, and some of those things actually I’ve decided that, you know, things have changed. And I might not want to and I’ve replaced bits. But does it help me on the core of them sort of like 80-90% of it’s still accurate? Yeah, it does. I think it helps having it there and being focused on it. So yeah, I do think I’m goal driven. And I also try and remind myself of the advice that I give to my students. And one of the key things I always talk about is marginal gains. So the power of small changes in performance, you know, small building blocks, and really, they will, if you keep faith and you keep going, they’ll compound over time to make big changes and results. So that’s what I try and keep telling myself anyway,

Ludo Millar 16:42
I feel like I’ve received just part of a session of yours. Okay, so it’s grab the pens, it’s grab an A4 piece of paper, it’s mapping things out. I love it. I’m certainly not very good at that myself and it’s easy to see that a student, that a child could gain a lot from that, you know, being able to map things out visually is really powerful. And it’s not something that, you know, I was taught about much when I was a student. So yeah, that’s great advice. I mean, I guess on a similar vein, what has being part of the coaching and the kind of mindset field, what has that taught you about your own mindset, Rachel?

Rachel Stuart 17:35
What has it taught me about my own mindset? That’s a really good question. So I think it’s taught me about, I think it’s taught me about the importance of self belief. I think for anyone who is working for themself, you really do need that self belief, or, in fact, anyone that wants to get promoted at work, or to be honest, or wants to sort of do anything, actually, often the big goals, the important ones aren’t that easy to achieve. So I think you’ve got to continue believing that you can achieve it, you’ve got to have that resilience, and be able to sort of roll with the punches, or be able to get back up from failure. And a big thing I’m passionate about is to sort of teaching students and also my own children, to be not to be ashamed of feeling actually failure is really good. You need to be able to feel successful people feel more. And then that’s all true. And as well, and I speak to students about doing well. And the best study skill you’ll ever learn is to ask yourself questions, there’s a lot of research on that active recall, practice testing, whatever you call it. And actually, to be able to do well, in that you have to be able to get things wrong, you have to be able to feel more because that’s the way that you start getting things right. So that’s something I teach my students definitely something I remember myself or try and remind myself of, and again, this thing about, I suppose, a kind of quite a personal one for me.

So both of my children have hearing loss. So my son is severely deaf, my daughter is moderately severely deaf. And I think when you have news like that, especially for my children, because they actually have a progressive loss. So when they were first born, they passed their healing screen, but actually, they’ve started to lose their healing over time. And I think it’s quite easy to get yourself into a mindset of thinking about how difficult things could be or where this could go. And actually, one of the things that I think I must have read or heard somewhere once was, don’t focus on where things we don’t want things to go focus on where you do want things to go and put all your energy into the positive outcome and where you want things to go. And that’s something that I try and always remind myself of and think about is let’s just go all out for where we want this to be in the end and Naturally, you know, I’m pleased to say they’re both doing really well. But I think for any parent who has a child with an additional need, they’ll resonate with that in some way.

Ludo Millar 20:10
Okay, so where is the vision of Rachel Stuart going? When you think about when you put that teaching to test, Rachel, what does 2022 and beyond hold for you?

Rachel Stuart 20:26
So for me, yeah, I’ve developed a core programme that I’m really passionate about. And it definitely is about much more than just mindset and goal setting. So for me, it’s really important that it’s practical. So we talk a lot about metacognition, and evidence based study skills. And that works quite nicely alongside tutoring, I’ve got quite a few of my students who would also have tutors, but indeed, some of them don’t. And it’s really about how do they learn in the best way. And the other things that we talk about are organisational skills, study planning, and things like using past papers. And we’re how to use their mark schemes examiner’s report, so really thinking like an examiner. So for me, it was really important to sort of build that programme and have spent and really test it. So I’ve spent, you know, the best part of two and a half years really developing something that I’m really proud of. It’s well tested, it’s evidence-based. And this year for me is really about getting that out to more people so that I can serve and help more students. So I run, I work with schools, but actually, ideally, to work with schools, it’s good to be in a reasonable proximity to the school, which sort of limits how many people you can serve. So this year is real focus for me on going directly to the consumer and group programmes and really focusing on on those and how I can help students, and that interplay of working in a sort of micro-community of other people who are also trying to achieve what you’re trying to achieve. So I think for me this year, really focusing on groups. And I also would love to launch a membership programme where students are actually able to come and join coaching sessions ad hoc, so once they’ve done the core programme, a lot of students want continued support. Because after all GCSE and A levels are a marathon, they’re not a sprint, and I’d love to be able to serve people in a more holistic way. And you know, perhaps also work in tandem with tutors on there. So we do deep dives on subject-specific skills. So how to deal with GCSE Geography or Maths or English Lit alongside the sort of principles of effective learning and mindset. So really trying to sort of marry it up and offer something even better and more valuable to my customers. So yeah, that’s what I would like to do this year. 

Ludo Millar 22:51
Okay, well, we’ll get you back on around about February 2023 to have a stock check of that goal setting. No, I mean, if you’re a tutor out there listening to this, that’s Rachel’s call to draw on the experience of tutors in their specialisms. And so if you think you have the skills to match what Rachel was just discussing there, to help Rachel on her mission of inspiring children to achieve their potential through mindset and through skills coaching, then please do reach out at where’s the best place … ?

Rachel Stuart 23:30
So definitely you can reach out to me, I’d say probably most of the tutors that are on here, probably on LinkedIn. So yeah, I definitely would love to connect with anyone on LinkedIn. And equally, I work with a few tutoring franchises that also employ my services to supplement what they are doing. And that works really well as well. So yeah, definitely always up for connections and collaborations. And if anyone wants to get in touch and feels that we’ve got some synergy, then yeah, we’d love that.

Ludo Millar 24:01
Ok well, you can find Rachel on LinkedIn. You can find out more about Mindset Lab at mindsetlab.co.uk. And the latest and most exciting piece of Mindset Lab internet news is that Rachel’s YouTube channel Mindset Lab is really taking off. I think, there how many videos are there? There were a couple released recently, weren’t there?

Rachel Stuart 24:27
Yeah, I actually only have one video on YouTube. I have four waiting to be edited. So definitely that’s another big thing this year, I really want to put out some more free content and be able to help more people that way. So yeah, that is also on my list. I’m also on Instagram as well. If anyone you know, likes a bit of Insta and wants to join me there I’m @themindsetlabs. I’d love to connect as I say and do a collab with anyone who feels that that’d be helpful.

Ludo Millar 24:56
Absolutely. Well I’m sure that will be many people. If you’re listening to this and you think that there’s someone in your network who could collaborate with Rachel, then please do pass this podcast on. And that way, we all learn a little bit more. But Rachel, thank you so much for taking the time to explain what you do and to explain kind of some of the basic kind of tenets behind The Mindset Lab, where it’s come from, what mindset coaching is about why children and students need that extra push, that extra kick sometimes to to achieve their potential. I think that those are teachings that are applicable to all tutors, all educators kind of across the board. So, very generous of you. Thank you, Rachel, I hope you enjoyed your first podcast appearance!

Rachel Stuart 25:47
I did, indeed. Thank you. That’s been great. And it’s great to connect with you sort of offline and also on this, Ludo. So thank you very much for having me. I really enjoyed it. And I would be delighted to come back in February 2023. And as you give me some accountability, to see what I’ve done at that point, that would be great.

Ludo Millar 26:05
Okay, there we go, a reciprocal relationship. If you enjoyed this podcast or even if you’d like to leave a review, then just head to ratethispodcast.com/QualifiedTutorPodcast, and leave us a little review just there so that we can grow our show and so that people can continue listening to wonderful guests like Rachel. So really, Rachel, it’s a huge thank you from us. My name is Ludo Millar, the host of this podcast and it is a final goodbye from us until next time, so thank you very much. And we’ll see you very shortly.

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Ludo Millar

Thank you for listening to this episode of the Qualified Tutor Podcast. Whether you’re a regular listener of this podcast, or you’ve just stumbled across it, join the Qualified Tutor Podcast Group within the Qualified Tutor Community. To stay up to date with our latest news offers workshops and of course, simply to meet other tutors like you, whatever your level is as a tutor, our training courses will be the next step in your professional development. Visit qualified tutor.org/training to find out more about our CPD-Accredited and Ofqual-recognised courses: the first of their kind in the tutoring industry.

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