Friday, May 19, 2017

What teachers can learn from coaches


Yesterday I wrote a post titled What PLCs can learn from coaches. I think there's a lot of great coaching practices that are really effective teaching strategies that could and should be used in the classroom. Today I'm going to share one coaching strategy that is important for a successful classroom. 


I recently attended my daughter's basketball banquet for her college basketball team. At the banquet, Mike Ricks, the head coach who just finished his second season with the team, shared a little with the attendees about the basketball program.

The first thing Coach Ricks talked about was culture. When Coach Ricks took over the program two years ago, the program was not a successful one. Coach "inherited" players who were invested in the school and program who had to adjust to a new way of doing things. He needed buy in from the returning players, even more so than from the new players coming in.


Coach Ricks and his staff wanted the program to feel completely new. They set out to do a complete overhaul on expectations, the definition of TEAM, as well as style of play. 

Now, we need to remember, these are college players. Those who love the sport. Those who want to play at the next level. These are the self-motivated, self-disciplined players, right? Coach Ricks and his staff can take the motivation piece for granted... right?

Coach Ricks and his staff have done A LOT of things to motivate the players. 

Just check out their locker room...







Do we agree that classrooms can impact students' motivation, interest, and behavior?  Coach Ricks was very intentional about the physical space he has created for the women's basketball team. He sends a clear and consistent message about team unity, hard work, and "The Panther Way." The players also go through Camp Five as part of their pre-season where they have mental breakthroughs and learn to depend on each other physically and emotionally.

It would be easy to say that the players are motivated and decorating the locker room or having a theme or motto aren't necessary. Do you believe that Coach Ricks sees himself as a motivator as much as a teacher of the game of basketball? Do classroom teachers see themselves as motivators as much as they see themselves as teachers of a content area?

What can teachers learn from coaches? We need to MOTIVATE our students, from the least motivated to the most motivated. We have an impact on their motivation, positively or negatively, by what we DO or DON'T DO.

Let's create opportunities for students to team-build together, let's create inviting and motivating spaces, let's encourage and uplift, let's protect each other, and let's wrap up our "season" with a celebration (not just semester exams). Let's see ourselves as motivators.

Motivating others is not easy, but it's possible. Start talking to the successful coaches you know. I bet they all know ways to motivate others!





Do you know any successful coaches and how they motivate their players? I would love to hear from you in the comments or on Facebook or Twitter. 





Thursday, May 18, 2017

What PLCs can learn from coaches


I first heard of the concept of Professional Learning Communities (PLCs) over 12 years ago. I was fortunate to go to several conferences to hear from experts such as Rick and Becky DuFour, Robert Marzano, Bob Eaker, and Eric Twadell. It was in these conferences that I was first introduced to the four essential questions for PLCs:
  • What do we expect students to learn?
  • How will we know when they have learned it?
  • How will we respond when some students haven't learned it?
  • How will we respond when some students already know it?
It was Becky DuFour who said (and I summarize) that we should examine every practice and procedure and their impact on student learning. The focus was to be on teaching and school practices, but ONLY in regard to the focus on student learning. 

There was a SHIFT of focus from teaching to learning. 


It was refreshing. It was "results focused," and it was team oriented. Under the PLC concept, teachers were collaborating with others, comparing results, sharing ideas, and working to improve the learning that was taking place in classrooms. It was the opposite of the "close your classroom door and teach" philosophy.

The PLC concepts were all concepts that I had experienced as an athletic player and coach. At the end of each game or match, the score is on the board for all to see. It's posted online, it's in the newspaper... in other words, it's a public display of your impact as a coach. Because of the public results and the competitive nature of coaches and athletes, successful coaches are always looking for ways to get better. Each year, there is a different group of athletes to reach and motivate in different ways. There are new drills, workouts, and strategies that are developed. 

The successful coaches I know talk about the game, pick other coaches' brains for ideas, attend workshops to keep learning, and more. Coaches ask, "What do I need to do as a coach to win?" It's asked because coaches understand that what they do impacts the outcome. The focus is on the players and their results.

Let's not just ask, "What do I need to do as an educator?" 

Let's finish the question and ask, "What do I need to do as an educator that will have the greatest impact on student learning?"

Let's also not hold our student results hostage. Let's put kids up to the same challenges, see how they do, talk about how we prepared them, and then figure out what works best. 

One game doesn't define a player or a coach, and one test score doesn't define a student or a teacher. 


Tomorrow's post... What classroom teachers can learn from coaches.





Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Why #lastbell is about our beliefs


It has been extremely rewarding to see the #lastbell posts across social media - Photos and captions of teachers and students across the country making the most of the time they have together. There are so many great ideas to capture and steal from others to put into action in our own schools. 

At the beginning of May, I had the opportunity to be interviewed by Ashley McBride for her "A+ Edtech Podcast." 



In the podcast, we talked about how the #lastbell movement got started and lessons learned through participation in #lastbell.

The message I hoped to relay in the podcast is that #lastbell is a reflection of what an educator believes. If one of our beliefs is that we are better together, then participation in #lastbell is a no-brainer. Those who participate believe that they have neat things to share about kids' learning, and that others will benefit by knowing what's happening. Also, when we believe that we're better together, we believe it's a give and take relationship. Those who participate aren't just lurkers. They don't just take, but they also give back and share ideas. 

Another belief of those who participate in #lastbell is respect for students and their time. When must believe it's important to take full advantage of the time we have with students to build positive, impactful relationships and help them to learn more than what they thought they could learn.

When we believe in the students and believe that we have a responsibility to make a positive impact on their lives, #lastbell becomes a year-round philosophy. 



Thursday, April 27, 2017

4 Motivational Free Printables

I had someone recently ask me to create some graphics for them. I love creating new images for others, especially when I'm affirmed by someone hiring me to do it for them! :-) 

While I was on a roll, I thought I would create some printables for you, for your classroom or office. They would look great framed, but you can also get them laminated or enlarged at a local copy shop (or maybe your school library.)

I hope you enjoy these as much as I enjoyed creating them for you! (Just right-click and choose "save image as.")






If you prefer to download all 4 in a .pdf file, click HERE



Want to hire me to create graphics for you? Send me your project request via email. Just click "Contact" at the top of my blog.









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