One of the most rewarding things in my life is the opportunity to coach my kids’ sports teams. I love that progression of improvement and development not just in athletic skills, but the confidence that grows in a child when they recognize they can do hard things.
Our main priority every year, is to ensure the kids have a great time, develop in skills and confidence, and realize the benefits of hard work and working together with the team. By those standards, we’ve had a lot of success over the years, despite a fairly pedestrian win-loss record.
As the boys on our football team are growing up, and becoming more capable learners, we decided to add to our approach to coaching this year, and implemented a simple film study element to our coaching regimen. We started studying film with the boys after our first game, which we lost 35-12.
Though we have coached the boys on the same skills, techniques, and strategies for the last two seasons, it was amazing how much more impactful it was for them to see themselves on film. Many recognized that they weren’t doing things the way they thought they were; and all benefited from seeing the results, either the benefits or consequences, of their actions. If a lineman missed a block in the past, they weren’t always directly aware of the consequence of a missed assignment. By watching plays unfold, players started to realize that their seemingly small, and insignificant role, had a much larger impact on not just that play, but the entire game and success of the team. It’s easy for a player to remember the outcome of a play, like a scored touchdown, but the pivotal moment was starting at the touchdown and backing it up to the key block that opened the hole for the running back at the line of scrimmage. Beginning with the end in mind is a necessary step for learners to truly comprehend where they are going, and will yield immediate results in your classroom.
Learners are different today than they were even ten or twenty years ago, they are much more complex and capable of handling multiple streams of information. Because of this constant flow of information through media and technology, added to traditional sources of information and instruction, students are more apt to “pick and choose” what grabs their attention. They cannot simply follow one voice of a teacher or a coach and do as instructed, bandwidth is limited, so they choose to follow the voice that is most compelling to them, for their own reasons.
When my coach told me to block, I blocked! I did it because the outcome was either I did as I was told, or I ran . . . and practice was already hard enough without extra conditioning as a punishment. Learners perform for one of two reasons, to reap the benefit, or avoid the consequence. As educators, we need to be mindful of how important this concept is when we are teaching and testing our students. If there is no clear connection with something that engages the student, and paints a very clear picture of how their actions today influence the outcomes of the future, today’s student will not engage.
In a world where teachers are evaluated based on their student success, we need our students to engage and do their best to get an accurate and fair measurement of student growth. There are three steps that will help you engage your students and get their best efforts when it comes to preparing your class for not just the assessment at the end of the semester, but helping them improve like my football players, and engaging them to grow in their skills and confidence.
1) Review the Learning Standards:
At Precision Exams we regularly work with industry to identify and clarify the skills and knowledge they need out of their labor force. From there, we examine the goals of our exams based on the learning standards outlined in the standards documents https://www.precisionexams.com/exams/. By sharing these standards with your students on the first day of class what industry requirements are for specific careers, they will answer the question themselves of “why do I need to learn this?” They will recognize the importance of each small step and concept as you build throughout the semester to a certification that will help them prepare for a career.
2) Review the Reports to Improve Instruction:
One of the most important, and often overlooked, aspects of assessments, is providing timely data to help teachers improve their instruction based on industry standards, and the specific needs of their students. Precision Exams reports break down progress down to the granular level of the learning standards. This way, instead of yelling at a lineman to “block better!” You can coach to more specific skills like where to take a first step, that will result in making that block.
3) Print and Distribute Earned Certifications & Student Score Reports:
Students often don’t know what they know and certainly struggle describing what they have learned in your class. To better prepare them for that job interview, we print the standards on the back of each certificate so students know how to better articulate what industry recognized standards they have mastered.
After just one week of studying film and better visualizing their roles within a big picture of outcomes, our team won that next game, and every game since by a combined total of 158-0!
Just as my football players are more engaged and have visualized the outcomes of their actions on every play, your students, when you follow these steps, will be more engaged with the content, will better visualize the potential outcomes, and will perform better in your class and demonstrate more growth as they advance in skills and confidence.