Who was your greatest coach? What does a coach do?

Coaching and feedback given to teachers in a culture where each one’s goal is to be the best in his/her field is a powerful thing. Yet often, this has not been a deliberate practice among educators.

One of my greatest coaches was Mike Clark. He recruited me to swim at Marymount University in 1994. Coach Clark pushed me beyond my limits. He videotaped our swimming and debriefed with us to analyze every movement and position of our arms, heads, hips, and hands in the water. He painted our goggles opaque and required us to know the exact number of strokes it took to go from one side of the pool to the other without sight. Coach Clark hooked us up to giant, empty paint buckets that we would drag behind us lap after lap.

I improved dramatically as a swimmer that year. My best recorded times, the ones I thought could not be made faster by much dropped by many seconds. In the sport of swimming, dropping more than one second is a big deal.

I believe in the power of effective coaching in sports. I also believe it can have that same power in education. Beyond the usual professional learning (which I also believe can be very valuable when properly designed), I am focusing on developing a culture of intentional and effective coaching and feedback.

Who was your greatest coach?


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