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...for all students

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I am a high school special education teacher in a Community Skills class and i am a tennis coach. First, let me say how much I enjoyed this post and the great parallels drawn between solid coaching and effective teaching through teaching how. However, when working with students with multiple and significant disabilities, there are major differences between these students and the kids that I coach in tennis. Many of my students in class have not been taught 'how' to perform everyday skills since kindergarten and are still learning now. Many times, it is hard for me to teach these students in the same way that I coach my players because I have to start completely from scratch and progress is extremely slow in learning a skill that is 'easy' for us. In tennis, I can tell a player what to do without saying how to do it, and they know what is expected. I think that there are many situations where student or athlete motivation come into play as well. Athletes tend to be motivated to want to know 'how' to do something, whereas many students with disabilities are prone to a failing cycle in school and do not care 'how' to do something because of a lack of motivation. I would say that coaching athletes is much easier in this respect because of these intangibles and factors. Students with disabilities are not as easily engaged or motivated to learn and it is much more difficult to tach these students 'how' to do something, even with significant time and multiple practices.

Director, Graduate program in behavior disorder, David Yellin College

To Kelley

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Thank you for your reply. In a personal way, I admit it made me feel old. I have been one of the pioneers of advocating student choice for about 30 years. All of my books are centered on it. Most of the criticism my work has received over the years was from people who thought I was way to radical in giving students too much control. Now there is a new generation, who is unfamiliar with my work, suggesting more student choice, a concept I helped introduce to the education community. This is my way of telling you how much I agree with you.
Still, nothing you say contradicts my point that telling a child to change is insufficient. I can choose to do (fill in the blank with anything) but if I don't know how to do it, Then I can't. Teachers cannot expect to change behavior by telling, because telling is not teaching.
Keep fighting to give students power through choices. We need to counter the accountability/test mentality.

Teacher/Lecturer/Citizen www.manadoob.com

respectfully I don't agree...

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Human interaction is about more than correct technique. Repetition of an action we've been told to do is just the next step past 'telling.' The missing ingredient is teaching choice and providing mentoring that will hopefully lead to the kind, connected choice.

Using the drama metaphor - repetition in rehearshal of acting is done not to insure 'correct technique under pressure' but to provide a layer of support & the environment where organic, authentic choices can be made, vital to the success and enrichment of the moment of participation.

Perhaps we should endeavor to create an environment where our children are allowed to consider and choose and discover for themselves. Repetition without inspiration is a hollow victory.

Director, Graduate program in behavior disorder, David Yellin College

Thank you readers for your

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Thank you readers for your comments. They really do mean a lot. Let me say one more thing. As we try to change our behavior in the way we teach children, we need repetitions, too. Changing our own behavior is almost, but not quite, as difficult in changing that of children. Change is never easy. Have a great holiday, one and all

Educational consultant, homeschool mom, columnist and author

Yes, yes, yes!!

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So many people say "you are so lucky that your kids don't fight." They then look at me in horror when I say that no families have to have children that fight. Little do they realise that it has been 10 years of them being coached! We have had to daily, minute by minute practice and practice showing consideration to one another, we re-run confrontations in different ways and we "try again" or "pause - replay," every time we strike out at another in frustration. Yes we still have upsets and arguments but as they are daily trained I love seeing the great relationships of love and compassion growing between them. Thanks you for writing this great article!

Secondary Education student in Chicago

Coaching for character development

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I find the metaphor of teacher as coach very appealing in general, but this is the first time I've thought of it particularly in regards to social behavior. It clarifies some of what bothers me about the current popularity of "anti-bullying" programs: schools fill up with signs saying "no bullying," teachers exhort students not to bully, and so forth, but relatively little emphasis is given to teaching students what they ought to do, as opposed to telling them what they shouldn't do. What if, instead of anti-bullying programs, we created programs to cultivate kindness, trust, and respect?

K-12 physics teacher

Good stuff. However if you

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Good stuff. However if you are from the old school, it's so difficult to change the teaching methods to embrace these wonderful ideas.

intermediate classroom teacher, previously HoF for Art and Technology

An interesting article

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An interesting article Richard. I run and coach a school soccer academy at the intermediate school in which I also teach. I have appreciated that many of the positive relationships established in the academy have carried through into the classroom and around the school. I haven't yet made the link with the way I teach in the academy and the classroom, only recognizing them as seperate entities.
I will now look at what is common to both of my practices and what can be improved either way. once again, thanks for the prompt.

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