One who cares is one who listens. ~ J. Richard Clarke
I spent nine years coaching boys and girls high school soccer– seventeen seasons total along with a decade of coaching a variety of youth and competitive teams – and I have never forgotten when things started turning around for me. Oh sure, I went to many, many clinics to learn how to coach better. I earned my national coaching license to become more proficient at my craft. I even decided to certify as a referee just to understand that perspective of the game, but I will never forget the season I started one very simple and interesting tactic – I listened. And I started asking questions. It was amazing what I learned from my players when I let them give me information or repeat what I had asked them to accomplish. It was amazing what I heard other coaches saying to their players or about the game. That tactic, as simple as it was, changed the game for me so successfully and in a way no formal training had ever done. When I took it to my classroom, the transformation was just as phenomenal.
Ask yourself, how much do I talk TO the students in a class period? I’m guessing for most of us, it’s too much. The reason that happens is we trust our extensive training. We have to control the information. We don’t necessarily trust our classroom management system yet. I understand, but I also know we have never really practiced listening. So, this week, I challenge you to try the simple tactic – listen. And ask your students good questions. Start by talking to each other in collaboration and ask for strategies that encourage productive student conversation. One idea right off the top of my head is Think, Pair, Share. How about notes comparison between students? Ever tried a Socratic seminar? Listen to what you students are saying. Get out from behind a desk or computer and ask students questions about the work you assign them to complete. Ask students WHY they think what they do or WHY they answered the way they answered.
Have you ever sat in a classroom, church pew, or professional development session and found yourself nodding off? I think we all have at one time or another. You too have the perfect solution for classroom sleepiness; encourage your students to talk about their learning. And be ready to be amazed at your success as a professional. This is a win-win scenario.
Week 3 in Review
I fell in love with our students again last week. They never cease to amaze me in how much they love and trust us. We had a great week for attendance and discipline – up and down respectively. In a very B.F. Skinner fashion, please join Luke, Jeremy and me in giving lots of strong feedback to our students who are behaving in a fashion we want them to continue. There is serious power in reinforcing the positive. Thanks to all activities and sports teams for their efforts this week. We took a few gut punches with events occurring out of our control and playing some pretty good teams, but our students showed great sporting behavior and never gave in. Don’t measure the week by a few set backs. Measure our level of CARdinal Excellence by the successes we found after we made it through those learning events. A big thanks to Mrs. Roseberry, Ezzell and company for a great pep assembly. Also, a great shout out to our nutrition and maintenance crew for their patience and support in yet another week where shifting to an early out put them under great pressure to adjust. If you get a chance, give them a high five for a week well played!
Week 4: A Look Ahead
By the end of this week we will have been in school one full month. How can something that takes so long go so fast? This week will keep you hopping. We have numerous SCHOOL-WIDE events that we must all be on the same page to complete. I will list the week’s events on your email for easy reference, but I want to share an overview here. We will be having our first class meetings during CAMP. Students will report to CAMP first for roll then an announcement will bring them to the auditorium. We will also complete three days of STUDENT HANDBOOK REVIEW during CAMP. Finally, this weekend is the Southside Carnival and Parade – Benton is a star in this event from students to teams to staff. Make sure you somehow connect with this epic Southside event. Remember, you ARE . . Southside!
~Excellence is a journey not a destination.~