I used to hate sports analogies but there is one stuck in my head that just plain makes sense.
On an athletic team, we may do a better job of teaching than we do in the classroom. In practices, we do not keep score. We use what we witness as a way to drive what to instruct next. We give feedback, ("Great job!" or "Talk to your teammates!") but we don't get a score board going to see who wins. Isn't this what we should do in the classroom? See how kids are performing so we know what to push them toward next?
I know, I know. Kids are not as motivated at school as they may be in extra-currriculars, but coaching is teaching and teaching is coaching. Some times it requires inspiring motivation. What is the incentive to show up for practice and do your best?
More importantly, how do we get some similar incentive in the classroom?
For most of us, good grades were incentive enough. We liked school or we likely wouldn't have asked to stay in it for the next 20+ years! But what about those who don't really like it? How do you get them to practice? How do you even relate to them? As a total non-athlete, I did not participate in PE because I wanted an A. I did it because I liked to be with my friends and I liked to be told that I had done well. I did it because I wanted to become less ignorant about the sports I would never play but would attend. There was something else. We just need to find that "something else" for our students in the classroom.
"Easy for you to say, Susie!" Yeah, I know. You're right. It's not that simple.
I don't have the answers, but I know that a good dose of success can get many people motivated. Think about it; you diet for a week and if you see zero progress, you quit, right? You have a bad day and think, Screw it, I'm eating that whole cake. But if you lose a bit - even if you KNOW it's water weight! - you hang in there one more day.
So in this great game that we call school, what can we do to be better coaches? How can we use our activities and our assignments like practice? Can we use them to drive the next day's lesson? Can we talk about yesterday's work before we start today's?
Maybe letting go of what was done to us in the classroom, frees us to be better teachers. Because Lord knows I wouldn't have gotten any better in basketball if Mr. Eason screamed at me or told me I was awful. Instead, he worked with me where I was and now I can at least watch a game without yelling, "Go for the touchdown!" :)
I am a high school teacher in Wheatfield, Indiana, trying to reach out to my kids in a way that works for them.