Yesterday, I had the opportunity to talk to an amazing athletic coach. So much of what he had to say resonated with me in regard to my work as a teacher. He spoke of his many efforts to uplift his athletes, efforts that I can work to replicate in the classroom to uplift every learner.
Intake Interview and Personal Knowledge of Every Learner
This coach spends considerable time getting to know each athlete--he makes the time to talk to them and learn all about who they are and how they learn. How often do educators make the time to do this? And if we do make the time, what questions do we ask to help us teach each child best? Further, how do we use this knowledge to build a strong relationship with every learner?
This coach analyzes each individual's needs, and then creatively makes a plan to help every individual succeed.
Research and Learning
The coach reads everything he can get his hands on about his sport, coaching, and learning in general. In fact, right now, he's reading Johansson's Medici Effect to develop his coaching more. He also talks to everyone about how they teach well and applies those strategies. This coach uses significant trial and error too as he works to develop innovative approaches to help athletes achieve.
Risk, Error, and Push
This coach acknowledges that learning isn't easy, and good learning and achievement includes error, risk, and push. He's upfront with his athletes saying that the process won't necessarily be easy, but it will be profitable if everyone works together for betterment and individual/collective success.
This coach is clearly a team player. He's not sitting on an "island" in his institution, but clearly a full member of the community which further empowers his ability to coach well.
Time and Relationship
This coach knows his athletes for four years--a good amount of time to build a strong relationship. Is one year with a class of students too little for good learning? Should we be looking for places in schools where we can build strong multiyear relationships between learners and teachers? If so, how can we do that? One idea I've had is to have a similar homeroom or advisory group for your years at a school. At elementary this would mean that you would have one parent-like adult in the school that works with you on a number of significant academic and social-emotional learning activities such as read aloud, open circle, procedural events, independent reading, and personalized tech practice/creation.
Clear History, Goals and Objectives
This coach understands the history of his work, the community and the sport he coaches. He uses the lessons from the past to build success in the future. The coach similarly is clear about goals and objectives, there's no secret about what he wants to achieve with his athletes. These explicit knowledge of history, goals, and objectives makes attaining success tangible to the athletes.
All of this coach's strategies are strategies we can embrace in education to do a better job for each and everyone of our learners. I'm looking forward to employing these strategies in the days to come.