: Be, Do, Have Luca suggests why perhaps we have something to learn from the world of coaching and the power of the Be, Do, Have model.


Be, Do, Have

Luca suggests why perhaps we have something to learn from the world of coaching and the power of the Be, Do, Have model.

by Cornwall Research School
on the

Luca HS

Luca Owenbridge

Deputy Director of Cornwall Research School

Luca Owenbridge is the Deputy Director of The Cornwall Research school and a History and Maths teacher based in Penzance, Cornwall. He came to teaching after working as a Policy Analyst for the Department for Education in London. Click here to read more.

Read more aboutLuca Owenbridge

Often, the way we teach students begins with giving them something to have, a skill, a tool, a process.

We then coach them around what to do with that thing.

All of this is in the hope the hope that they will then be able to be something we, and maybe they will value, a Linguist, a Cook, an Historian.

And yet, there is an ambient feeling in education that we are very good at teaching students to have and to do but that they struggle to be or don’t want to be at all.

This might manifest as them not interpedently knowing what to do with the tools we give them to solve higher order problems, not having the self-regulation to manage setbacks when using what they have learnt in context, or not valuing the process of education at all.

We perhaps have something to learn from the world of coaching and the power of the Be, Do, Have model. There are places where, as educators, we would be well served by reordering our thinking to prioritise how we coach students in the positive learning behaviours it takes to be a Mathematician, a Gardener, or a Dancer, not to the exclusion of what they need to do and the content required, but interleaved constantly.

The Evidence

The EEF’s guidance across many areas supports this. This explicit teaching of learning behaviours appears in EEF guidance on Behaviour, Metacognition and Self-Regulation and Social and Emotional Learning.


Their recommendations on Improving Behaviour prioritise the importance of explicitly teaching the positive learning behaviours we want to see, alongside knowing our pupils and their influences, focussing on regular simple routines to facilitate this. There is a focus on being in their guidance on Improving Behaviour. Whether this is knowing and understanding your pupils and their influences’ (recommendation 1) or teaching learning behaviours’ (recommendation 2) the focus is dispositional. They challenge us to understand where pupils are in themselves and then to coach them in the dispositions we want them to develop.


Whether we want young people to be Scientists or Writers, we need them to be Metacognitive and self-regulatory if they are going to experience success. This Metacognition forms part of the fabric of successful learning (…) but it can prove both complex and subtle’.1Again, the EEF guidance is clear, Metacognition is a way of being that we should be explicitly teaching.

Way of being – When teaching students how to Plan, Monitor and Evaluate we are coaching them in a way of approaching learning in our subject. We should be addressing their ability to recall ways they have engaged with similar problems in the past, how they assess if a chosen strategy is working and how they effectively evaluate their approach reflectively, changing course if necessary.


Challenge – The evidence is clear that setting the appropriate level of challenge so that pupils develop self-regulatory skills is paramount.2
Put simply, and somewhat paradoxically, if pupils have to undertake a task that makes them struggle (‘deliberate difficulties’), they are more likely to recall information from such tasks from their long-term memory”3

The guidance nods explicitly to the social and emotional dynamic inherent in this. They claim that when learners are challenged it is important they feel emotionally supported as well as being motivated to persevere”. The EEF’s SEL guidance is instructive here whether it is on strategies to enhance self-management like breathing and the importance of metaphor in understanding emotion, or enhancing their social awareness with a focus on empathy skills, circle time’ or the use of literature and film to contextualise feelings.

Self-organise – They also call on us to teach students how to organise and manage their learning independently. Part of this is how we support pupils’ intrinsic motivation to undertake learning tasks. We should understand that, much like ourselves, pupils have constant competition for their attention and that they need to balance their proximate (short-term) and distal (long-term) goals.

Effectively regulating motivational investment is complex and involves students developing a positive disposition to education over time. The evidence is ambiguous as to whether this should happen via direct instruction or through modelling and via osmosis.

When thinking about the Be, Do, Have model there are some damaging misconceptions we must remedy. Metacognition is not the preserve of older students and should be developed effectively in children as young as three. It is not higher order’ or more important than mere cognition or subject knowledge and in fact cannot be disentangled from subject content at all. We should be interleaving this Metacognitive coaching throughout all of our teaching.

The Model

The Be, Do, Have model fits this nicely, encouraging people to first focus on who they have to be to reach a specific goal, then what they need to do to succeed, and finally what they will have as a result. Effectively integrating the Be, Do, Have model requires introspection, self-awareness and a commitment to personal growth, all things that the EEF’s Metacognition Guidance prioritises.

The Be, Do, Have model challenges us not to wait for desired external circumstances to dictate our state. Instead, it encourages a shift in perspective towards the prioritisation of our own and students’ mindsets around the process of learning itself. It advocates Metacognition, prioritising the qualities we desire in ourselves and our students. By coaching and modelling this mindset of curiosity, resilience and self-awareness we have the best hope of integrating a Metacognitive approach.

The Challenges

We should be under no illusion that this is a simple task. The problems appear two fold. First, we exist in a curriculum that is content heavy’, often starving time from the essential coaching of students in how to be effective learners. Within this, we must be aware that coaching Metacognition is not some higher function that can be disentangled from content. While some strategies for metacognition can be described generally, they can only be improved through practice in specific settings. Other EEF guidance reports, such as those on literacy and mathematics, provide valuable detailed subject-specific guidance for teachers. The challenge then is to be regularly interleaving this metacognitive approach through all of our teaching.

The second challenge is that effective promotion of metacognition will look different in different parts of a school. Coaching students in how to be in different subjects cannot be separated from the different content in those areas. As such, schools should approach one size fits all’ approaches with caution and bear in mind the EEF’s guidance on implementation which calls on leaders to know where to be tight and where to be loose’ when managing change.

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