Ronald GallimoreEveryone's a teacher to someone (John Wooden)

teaching, coaching, continuous improvement, learning teams, improving teaching and coaching, John Wooden

John Merrrow, PBS education reporter, posted an interesting comment on his blog.
John Merrow, education correspondent for PBS Newshour, posted an interesting comment on his blog. Here are some key points he made:

“Referring to teachers as Coaches has been in vogue for the last dozen years or so. . . . . “Coach” was understood to be a high compliment, a term of great respect. It carried the message that this particular teacher understood individual differences among his or her students and had the skills to bring out the best in each kid. That was then…..

Times have changed, and, if I were still teaching, I don’t think I would want people calling me “Coach.”

Here’s why: the bottom line mentality is increasingly in charge in public education, with 25 states (and counting) judging teachers according to their students’ test scores. That’s a key provision of the federal government’s “Race to the Top” program as well.

This bottom line philosophy is built on the concept of winners and losers, profit and loss. In education the bottom line is, of course, test scores. And the Coach is responsible for the bottom line.

And, so, to me anyway, calling a teacher “Coach” is less a compliment and more a way of setting her up to fail. Football and basketball coaches have win-loss records that determine whether they keep their job or get fired, and I fear that’s the road education is rushing down.

Here's a link to his complete post link: and his invitation to reply, which I did as follows:

“Winning” is not the only outcome effective sport coaches pursue, and not the only lesson they can teach teachers. Academic researchers Côté and Gilbert argue effective coaches aim for developmental growth, what they label the 4 Cs: competence, confidence, cooperation, and character. These outcomes were the goals for ESPN’s coach of the 20th century, UCLA’s John Wooden. He insisted that effective coaching is teaching. Coach attributed his teams’ successes to what he had learned in the 1930s as a high school English teacher––the importance of continuous improvement of instruction. He liked to point out it took 16 years of incremental teaching improvements to earn a national title. Analyzing Wooden’s continuous improvement process, researcher Brad Ermeling identified four elements that all teachers could put to good use:

1. Identify critical instructional issues.
2. Prepare and implement instructional plans.
3. Use evidence to drive reflection, analysis, and next steps.
4. Persistently seek detectable improvements in learners' performance. 

Wooden never said anything about winning or wins to his players. He defined success not as winning but as “peace of mind, which is a direct result of self-satisfaction in knowing you made the effort to do your best to become the best that you are capable of becoming." He believed helping learners achieve that peace of mind is a byproduct of teachers teaching for competence, confidence, cooperation, and character. There are many teachers already doing that, and they don’t care what you call them. Teacher, coach, mentor, just tone down the talk of scoring testing points and let them get on with their work. The students will be at school tomorrow.
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