Sunday, 27 April 2014

Re-Envisioning Excellent...

Its  that time of year - a beginning of an other season.  As you look ahead its helpful to first take a look back, but not focus there too long, just long enough to recognize things that went well, and things that didn't go as well as planned,  Reflection is a key piece of meaningful learning.  It helps with metacognition - being able to know what you know. 

As you think about what you want you want to do this coming season, I encourage you to not set the bar too low.  The fact is that being an excellent coach has a lot more to do with the energy and enthusiasm you bring to your work, than your highest level of accomplishment as an athlete.  Don't set the bar too low for yourself.  Think about those areas that you felt less confident with last year and aim to tackle those first. 

This week I have been engaged with conversations with teachers about provincial curriculum redesign with the provincial education department.  Interesting, in that the discussions have not focused so much on content, but rather the conversations have focused on process.  Certainly 'what is worth knowing' is a part of that conversation.  But more importantly, being intentional and deliberate about how learning is framed, assessed, and made personal and meaningful has been at the core of teacher's discussions.

As coaches, its important to have similar conversations with other coaches.  Asking 'what is worth knowing' is the easy part of the conversation.  Talking about how to make that learning engaging, relevant, exciting, empowering, and meaningful is the tough part of the conversation.  Really, this is a bit easier with older athletes who have self selected to be a ski racer.  Being able to create engaging learning with 12-13 year olds takes a different skill set. Here are a few ideas that make my short list of important things to do:

- build relationship with kids - they should have a sense that you like them as individuals

- have a sense of humour - tease kids in a kind and caring way

- be excited about what you do - its way more fun when a coach isn't too serious

- surprise them - be prepared enough that what you offer isn't the same every practice

- help kids to reach beyond what they currently see as possible - help them dream a bit

- be positive - adolescents need way more 'you're doing this well' than 'work on this' - kids will be way more receptive to your input if they think you see them as competent and capable

- and above all, don't take yourself too seriously - the work that we do as coaches of adolescent cross country skiers is about helping kids to see what they are capable of while developing a love of being active and going fast on skis

So as you begin to look ahead to the coming ski season, I encourage you to find your edge.  The place where you want to improve.  If you're like me, its familiar work, and work that continues to bring great joy.


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