Each team had a teacher who helped get their kids to the appropriate places, with the right equipment, and make sure they knew what they had to do. I represented my team and worked with my kids. As one event led to another, I began to notice my kids where doing well in the events. It’s not like the races were anything normal that kids know how to do. They had to use a stick and roll an egg down to the end of the basketball court and back. They had to carry a balloon standing back-to-back down the floor. They to pick up marshmallows with a toothpick and transport them without using their hands. Just random kids from my team participating in random events, but winning or finishing runner up time and time again.
So what was the difference? What made my kids so successful? It wasn’t until it was over that I realized what I had done. As each student or student group began their race, I stayed with them and told them how they were doing and what to adjust in their approach. I constantly talked to them in real time about their work, giving them up to date feedback on their performance. They adjusted their approach based on this feedback, showing improvement along the way. But that shouldn’t surprise anyone, because that’s what good coaching does.
Now if my students can make that kind of improvement playing some silly games, what about in the classroom? What if I was there, right beside them the whole way, offering specific, focused feedback on their performance with indications of how to improve? What if this feedback occurred during the production and not after completion? What if my students had opportunities to address the feedback in their work before they were held accountable?
I saw what happened in those races. My students, no matter their level of athleticism, got better. And we know what happens in classrooms. Student success rates go up. Students feel empowered and in control of their learning. Students understand the qualities of good work and how to produce it. Students believe that they can be successful. So while I can’t always have the one-to-one opportunity with each student, I have to strive to be there in whatever way or through whatever method possible. I have to be the best classroom coach I can be.