Are you familiar with the Wheel of Life exercise?
One of the most valuable tools in an academic coach’s toolbox, the Wheel of Life exercise (also known as the Life Satisfaction Wheel) is used to get a temperature check on different categories of a student’s life—academics, health/wellness, friends, family, fun, personal space, money, and future plans—to form a full picture of the experience they are having day to day.
Let’s take a closer look at how this exercise works and the immense value it provides for students who need support.
How the Wheel of Life Exercise Works
Through a series of open-ended questions, an academic coach walks a student through each category to get a sense of where they are at and any specific challenges or successes they are experiencing.
The student then grades each category numerically on a scale of 1-10, placing a dot on the corresponding location on their Life Satisfaction Wheel worksheet and connecting the dots to make up their own unique wheel.
It’s important to note that every student has some variation in their wheel. Nobody ever has a perfect circle—and that’s okay. It’s impossible for any of us to lead a fully actualized life in every single area.
Signet’s academic coaches often use this go-to exercise when meeting a new student. It’s an excellent way to get to know somebody and establish a good rapport—something that is critical to the success of academic coaching It can also be used as a diagnostic tool when a student is stuck but doesn’t know why. Sometimes, the Wheel of Life exercise is done in conjunction with another exercise that involves establishing a set of personal values.
How the Wheel of Life Exercise Benefits Students
The Wheel of Life exercise provides value for students in four main ways:
1. Asking students questions they aren’t typically asked
Students who are new to academic coaching may expect the conversations with their coach to revolve primarily around academics—but that’s not quite how academic coaching works.
The Wheel of Life exercise begins to get students thinking about other areas of their life that they don’t always consider, such as their friendships and health.
2. Opening the door to holistic reflection
Often when a student is struggling at school, the root cause can be traced back to another area in their life. The Wheel of Life exercise broadens the areas that students are used to reflecting on, encouraging a new level of vulnerability that opens the door to holistic reflection and effective problem-solving.
3. Providing clear answers
When a student completes a Life Satisfaction Wheel worksheet, they have answers to how they’re doing right in front of them, clearly depicted by numbers ranging from 1-10. Even students who struggle to express themselves in words can typically give a numeric score and reach a place of clarity.
4. Establishing a benchmark for progress
One of the best things about the Wheel of Life exercise is that a student can repeat it at different points in their life to visualize their progress and see how things have shifted over time.
An Academic Coach’s Perspective
From an academic coach’s perspective, the Wheel of Life exercise provides a clear sense of direction that guides their sessions with a student.
Academic coaching aims to help students improve their confidence and self-reflection, giving them the tools they need to solve their own problems. The Life Wheel worksheet kicks off this process. It enables students to think more holistically about their lives and begin making important connections—skills that will serve them well for years to come.