Sunday, July 12, 2015

School Leaders' Perspectives on What Teachers Can Learn from Sports Coaches - Part I

In my research for What Teachers Can Learn from Sports Coaches, I had the opportunity to interview numerous high-profile, highly successful coaches at the high school, NCAA and Olympic levels. As I began getting feedback on the book from educators, I realized there were plenty of school leaders with wisdom to contribute on this topic. Inspired to seek more expert advice on the topic, I asked a number of former coaches who now serve in school leadership positions to weigh in on the following question: What lesson or principle about teaching that you learned while coaching do you most frequently emphasize with your teachers? I've listed the first of their answers below (more to follow soon).

If the wisdom below resonates with you - and I believe it will - be sure to reach out to the individuals and let them know. I'd also to encourage you to build your PLN by following them on Twitter.

What lesson or principle about teaching that you learned while coaching do you most frequently emphasize with your teachers?

Brian Knight @principal_SMS
Work Ethic/Perseverance - I often ask my staff: Is your work ethic on par with your classroom goals? We all want to be successful, but are we really willing to commit to what it takes to be successful. Success is not an accident; it is a choice. You must be willing to put in the needed time if you want true success in your classroom. You must be willing to try, even if you might not find immediate success. Failure is not the opposite of success; it is a vital part of it. As teachers we must model this for our students. We must learn from mistakes, and become better because of them. If your players are scared to make mistakes they will never push themselves as hard as they could. Similarly, in learning if we are not willing to take some risks we will never learn as much as we could. You must be willing to try; we must be willing to do; we must be willing to put in the time and effort it takes to be successful.

Robert Sain @saintroop
1. We can only control our attitude and our effort.
2. Do the next right thing right.
We cannot control others whether it be an opposing team, students in a class, or faculty members. We can only control us. Our attitude and effort must set the pace and keep a high bar for all around us. Each person giving their best attitude and effort combined with a continual focus on doing the next right thing right can provide any school with a large amount of horsepower. 

Art Sathoff @sathofar
Putting the time in, motivating others, doing what you say you'll do, cause greater than yourself

Valarie Farrow @valariefarrow
Looking back, I would say differentiation. I remember even in my early years telling players during practice if they didn't understand something to ask a teammate. I was/am not an auditory learner and a coach giving verbal directions paled in comparison to visual and kinesthetic learning.

Justin Smith @TXJustinSmith
Leading faculty is similar to coaching in that a team-first approach is necessary in order to approach the highest collective potential. Great coaches focus on team chemistry (work environment), togetherness (culture), and inspiring great individual work ethic (professional development). As it is in all group settings, a leader effectively empowers those in his or her charge by personalizing the work, supporting the individuals by meeting them at their readiness levels, and setting high standards of excellence that are equitable for all. A strong leader has a high level of competency in his or her role, yet understands that high levels of emotional and social intelligence are imperative when leading people. Not all athletes respond well to the same critiques, nor do teachers when provided feedback. Therefore, to effectively lead a group of individuals, a coach or principal must really understand how to motivate each and every member of the team the way in which they will respond and move towards their greatest self.

This is the first of a series of posts in which I will share what other educators shared with me, Check back soon for the next post.

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