Monday, 13 January 2014

How to get the most out of your kids...some ideas borrowed from Teaching

Lets borrow what we know works well...
One of the most referred pieces of research literature right now in the school division I work for comes from a researcher in New Zealand named John Hattie.  Hattie's book, Visible Learning, is essentially a meta-analysis of meta-analysis studies.  That might sound kind of boring, but in fact, research like this would have been so valuable to me as a beginning teacher and coach many years ago.  What Hattie's work does is quantify things that teachers do and their affect on acheivement.  We all know anecdotally that there are great coaches (and teachers) and others that aren't quite there yet.  What Visible Learning does is quantify the effects of teaching and learning influences on achievement.

We all want the kids we work with to achieve, to learn, to be successful.  Why else would you put the effort into coaching if it wasnt because you had some specific outcomes in mind.  In the coach training work I lead in southern Alberta, fun is often articulated as a major outcome in children's ski instructional experiences.  The fact is that kids have more fun when they have success, when they achieve goals they set for themselves, when they learn a new set of skills.  As coaches we can learn something from strategies that successful teachers employ.  You can identify these coaches and teachers because the kids they work with are engaged, acquire skills, and enjoy themselves.  What is it that these coaches of children are doing?  Hattie's research can help articulate some of those strategies.  Here are a few gems from some reading I did this morning from Visible Learning.

Attributes of Coaches (Hattie refers to Teachers, but I think subsituting 'Coaches' is appropriate as both coaches and teachers are focused on learning and acheivement) that have the greatest influence on well managed classrooms/practices (the higher the d= value the more significant the effect):

- with-it-ness - d=1.42 - this is a coach's ability to identify and quickly act on potential problems - looks like 'hey I see you doing that, and that needs to stop"
- appropriate mental set - d=1.29 - this is the coach's ability to remain calm and in control  - looks like never getting flustered or raising your voice
- verbal and physical behaviour of coaches - d=1.00 - this the behaviour of a coach to indicate disapproval of off task behaviour - looks like 'the look' or a one word intervention such as 'enough'
- disciplinary interventions - d=.91 - this is the coach's ability to use an appropriate intervention to get kids back on track - looks like 'hey, take a break here and cool your jets - i'll talk to you in a moment'
- group contingency strategies - d=.98 - these are strategies that require a specific set of kids to reach a certain criteria level of approp behaviour - looks like 'hey kids, show me 5 minutes of focused effort, then we can play a game'

- tangible recognition - d=.82 - students being provided some symbol or token for appropriate behaviour - looks like - 'kids who show the most focus on task, get to pick the teams for our relay'
- direct or concrete consequence - d=.57 - looks like 'if you interupt me, you're on the bench for 5 minutes'
- coach/athlete (teacher/student) relations - d=.87 - positive relationship are powerful moderators on managing behaviours or off task activity - coaches who build positive relationships with kids have fewer behaviour problems/off task focus
- rules and procedures - d=.76 - stated expectations regarding behaviours and well articulated rules that were negotated with athletes have thei highest impact. - looks like 'hey kids lets talk about what is going to be normal for our team this year'

There is lots to learn and to try when you are leading a group of kids.  According to the research one of the most powerful things we can do is pay attention and intervene early (having some with-it-ness). We need to stay calm when redirecting kids and we need to have a few tools in our belt. 
The biggest and most important to me over the years I have been coaching and teaching has been building positive relationships.

Appropriate coach/athlete or teacher/student relationships go a far way - when kids care about what your reaction is to something they might do, it has a huge influence on whether they do it or not.  When you've got a positive culture and great relationships few behaviour problems or off task behaviour occurs.  We've all know coaches and teachers who have this skill.  This skill comes from deliberate and thoughtful leadership.  I encourage you be that kind of leader.

Roy Strum

No comments:

Post a Comment