Leave the Locker Room Smell but Bring the Coaching

I often think of the start of my teaching career as the first time I stepped into a classroom full of kids, or perhaps on the first day of PD, or maybe even at the beginning of my teacher training.  However, a piece I read recently got me thinking that perhaps I had started my teaching career much sooner than I had even realized.

Craig Owens is an associate professor in the English department at Drake University and openly admits that he is “no sports enthusiast.”  Which makes his commentary piece even more interesting.  See, he was asked to be an “honorary coach” at one of the university’s home basketball games and he noticed something.  He realized that the interactions in the locker room (between players and coaches; players and players; coaches and coaches) were almost exactly the sort of engagement that teachers strive for (or should strive for) in the classroom.  Despite having a self-proclaimed “robust (classroom), with participants reliably raising their hands to answer questions or offer insights.”  Owens noticed something in that locker room that he felt was missing from his classes, authentic learning.

This got me thinking, back to when I started out as a youth basketball coach during my sophomore year of high school.  Okay, it wasn’t college level hoops (I got to that later!) but I had to wonder if that was where this all started for me.  Then I started thinking about us as a staff and all the coaches, dive instructors, directors, and conductors we have as part of this awesome team.  Now, my challenge for you…think about how your classroom can look more like the locker room, if you’re not a coach then go and watch some high school practices or talk with your colleagues who have paced the sidelines.  Some of the greatest coaches have been successful because they were also great teachers.  I think it’s time to start thinking of teachers as coaches and not just the other way around…that’s my two cents, what do you think?

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