Monday, April 21, 2014

Teaching Bell to Bell AND Wire to Wire

I watched more than my fair share of NCAA men's and women's basketball games during the 2014 March Madness. Though my bracket didn't last past the first few games and my teams didn't make it to the Final Four, I was reminded of a pretty valuable lesson for teachers and coaches.

In game after game, I noticed that the best coaches coached hard, teaching every opportunity they encountered, regardless of whether they were winning or losing, and regardless of whether they were up or down by a few points or many. This speaks volumes. It's easy to understand how and why a coach would be fully invested and coaching hard with 30 seconds to go in a close game. It's much more interesting, though, to watch a coach fully invested in his or her team up or down by 20 points or with a lineup full of bench players. It's a safe bet that these coaches, the ones who teach and coach hard buzzer to buzzer, also teach and coach hard wire to wire, or from the beginning of the season right up until the final buzzer of the final game.

The best classroom teachers teach bell to bell and the best administrators expect bell to bell teaching from their teachers. The best classroom teachers also teach wire to wire. Almost all teachers begin each school year with renewed passion for teaching, renewed enthusiasm, excitement, etc. The end of the year, those last several weeks when seniors develop senioritis and the rest of the kids start dreaming of summer vacation, really separates the best teachers from the rest because the best are determined to teach wire to wire. The best teachers don't add in video after video for the last few weeks of school to wind down the year, but rather increase their own efforts to keep kids engaged and maximize every remaining minute of the school year. It might be tempting for teachers to take it down a notch after state testing or AP exams, but the best teachers go bell to bell and wire to wire.

Be sure to look for What Teachers Can Learn from Sports Coaches: A Playbook of Instructional Strategies from Routledge/Eye on Education coming in August, 2014. To join the conversation, use #coachteach on Twitter and Facebook.

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