Coach or Teacher

This semester has marked the launch of the New Faculty Development Program. Every Friday, I meet with the new faculty and we discuss issues that we all encounter as teachers: technology in the classroom, student engagement, classroom management, SWFs, and so on. This past week we have been discussing the difference between a coach and a teacher.

Over the years I have heard the suggestion that what we do as teachers is more effective when we actually coach our students, not just teach them. On one hand I find this idea fairly easy to understand, but when it actually comes to implementing coaching strategies in the classroom, I admit to finding this a more challenging notion. In part, I think this is because I’ve never been really clear about what it means to be a coach having never been one.

A recent article in the Faculty Focus has finally made the idea much clearer for me. John Orlando, PhD, in his article “To Improve Student Performance, Start Thinking Like a Coach,” explains the difference in a way I find very easy to understand. Perhaps you will agree. In particular, I really like how Orlando explains the role of a coach as someone who makes past mistakes understandable but focuses instead on how to improve future performance. Now that I spend too much time in a cold ice rink watching my son play hockey, I can see how this is true. If the coach only focused on past mistakes without providing enough feedback on how to improve, the team’s performance would suffer.

After reading Orlando’s article, I’m feeling motivated to enter into this next semester considering how I might more actively coach my students. I’ll let you know how it goes!


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