Ronald GallimoreEveryone's a teacher to someone (John Wooden)
In 2003, Henry “Hank” Bias, Head Boys’ Basketball Coach (and Physical Education Teacher) at Fairmont High School in Kettering, Ohio, had just finished his third consecutive losing season and was profoundly discouraged by his team’s 3-17 record. As he mulled changing careersl, Bias went to see Dr. George DeMarco, a professor at the University of Dayton, who urged him to do some research on coaching and teaching before making a career change. One of the articles DeMarco recommended was Tharp & Gallimore’s 1976 study of Coach Wooden. Hank called me and I urged him to call Coach Wooden. After some initial hesitation, Bias mustered up the courage to dial Wooden’s number. As Bias started to leave a message, Wooden picked up and said hello. To Bias’s surprise and delight, they talked for 20 minutes about teaching basketball and how to improve as a coach. Then, Coach Wooden invited Bias to come visit him so they could discuss coaching and teaching at length. A few days later, Bias was sitting in Wooden’s condo, which was crammed to the ceiling with mementos and memorabilia. Wooden shared many bits of advice, but one of the most important was that better instruction was the answer Bias was seeking, and the way to get it was to relentlessly and continuously work on improving teaching, one practice session after another. Bias went back to Ohio and began following Wooden’s advice immediately. In the third year of Bias’s efforts to become a better teacher, the Firebirds’ record was 17-6. After winning the Greater Western Ohio Conference (GWOC) East championship, the team went deep into the state tournament and Bias won a local co-coach of the year award. Behind the scenes, Bias’s story is one of steady effort, day after day, week after week. Bias continued to communicate with Wooden and was also helped by co-author Swen Nater, a former UCLA player for Wooden and an 11-year NBA veteran. But mostly, Bias worked on his own to become a better teacher. He practiced a form of self-guided, continuous improvement, which other coaches can also use to become better teachers of their sport.
To read more about Hank, visit Athletic Management.
Gallimore, R., Gilbert, W., & Nater, N. (2013). Reflective Practice and Ongoing Learning: A Coach’s Ten Year Journey. Reflective Practice: International and Multidisciplinary Perspectives, DOI: 10.1080/14623943.2013.868790