Have you ever noticed that teachers are often are compared to professional athletes? Why, I ask myself? Is it the perceived seasonal sense of the work? Is it the need to appeal to the masses? Is it the fickle nature of our ‘fans’ and public support? Well, we know it certainly isn’t the salaries. But seriously, what can we glean from this comparison?
I’ve been thinking about that recently and realized that there really are quite a few parallels we should consider. We are success driven. We want our ‘players’ to do their best. We realize that it will be a lot of work for us, but it is even more work for them to be successful. When they are successful, we are all successful-it is truly a “team effort” in every sense of the word. So as we watch our favorite teams, players, contests consider the work, strategies, and practices that created their successes and failures. Maybe, rather than professional athletes, we should look at our similarities to the coaches.
One thing that professional sports and successful coaches have utilized for years, and that we are now being herded towards, is the use of videotapes. Uggghhh. How can watching myself or my students help? How can I get past my hair? My voice? My outfit? Or my weight? Ok, so it isn’t about how I look, I know, but if I can get past all of that, how will it help? This is a question that can best be answered if we look to our counterparts in sports. Both amateur and professional sports have used videotaping for years and with great success. It allows them to review plays, games, capitalized situations and missed opportunities. Why review? To reflect, to adjust, to plan, to revise–to learn. Sound familiar? It is all things that teachers can, and do, use in the classroom. With new evaluations playing center-stage in many states video -taping could become a real solution to providing evidence of quality teaching and reflection. Over the last two years I have gotten over my dislike of my voice, my hair, and my fashion sense. I have taped until my students no longer noticed the camera in back of the room and reviewed lessons to see what worked and what didn’t. I have employed the strategies of our athletic teams-to see, what I couldn’t see at the time, and it has proven effective. This has rung true to other teachers I have worked with as well. During the National Board process, candidates often groan when creating their videotaped lesson, “I hate the way I sound”, “That outfit is awful!”, “I can’t believe I have to watch myself, it is so embarrassing”, but they find as they crest that learning curve that it really isn’t so bad. The focus on instruction shines through and they see things happening in their classrooms, student expressions, body language, feedback break-