Wednesday, August 29, 2012
Football and teaching??
So I am just thinking, John says that some of his 8th grade science students this fall seem to have lower than usual basic math skills. And I have been talking with a middle school in Loveland that is concerned because their scores on the Tera Nova show that their 8th grade math students are weak in their basic math computation skills, fraction computation, and decimal computation. Yet, John wants to move students with their science concepts and the Loveland math teacher knows it is important to involve students in critical thinking, application, and analysis. I am wondering if we can liken this scenario to a high school football coach with a new group of players. Surely, from year to year the quality of the football skills that the team has vary. And yet the coach needs to put on their best results-driven showing each Friday night. The coaching staff needs to balance time spent on skill drills with time sent on game planning, plays, and strategy. John knows that it is important to maintain a sense of momentum with his science students in regard to science learning while trying to offer more opportunities and focus on needed math skills. The Loveland teacher cannot focus only on strengthening computational skills but must continue to connect and involve computation with math analysis and understanding. Somehow a "less is more" solution is needed here because class time and football practice time are not expandable. And yet remediation takes more time. It seems to me that more resources are needed. I would wonder if possibly a good place to begin is communication with the student (or the football player). Instead of "doing to" the student or player, it might be beneficial for the teacher/coach to communicate one-on-one with the student/player and share the data, the motivation, the confidence, and the overall plan that includes and is dependent upon the remediation. To broaden the possible resources perhaps parent(s) and peers could be involved. The remediation plan can focus on providing extra time and practice on skill improvement. This can take place in addition to football practice and classroom time. During this time, the student/player spends focused time on monitored practice with skills either alone or with a coach/teacher or with a peer or parent. Careful guidance and monitoring can insure that this time is efficiently, productively, and correctly used to improve weak skills. Feedback regarding skill improvement and next steps is important along the way. During football practice/class time more advanced concepts and performance can be addressed, knowing that the improvement taking place with the remediation practice will continue to improve performance in the classroom and on the field. The point is that the player/student knows that there is important purpose for the remediation plan and there is a team of people supporting continuous improvement. Stepping back, this thinking can be extended to every player/student in that players/students with strong basic skills can similarly develop in advanced areas and seek additional challenge. This leads to a more clear definition of what a coach and teacher do. They support the individual growth of each of their individual players/students. And through communication and individualization, everyone involved is motivated to continue to strengthen and develop. A good coach or teacher has experience in knowing the best development plan for each student/player at each developmental stage. I guess this is why the better football teams have lots of assistant coaches. I guess this is why the better teachers could use some assistant teachers... And why does Finland have the top academic test scores in the world? Their classrooms are filled with assistant teachers. Interesting.