- It is important to teach and coach with authenticity, coaching in a way that is true to who I believe I am.
- What and how I teach should reflect what I believe about learning, knowledge, and those whom I teach.
- Who I am as a teacher, what I teach, and how I teach should all continue to evolve as I continue to learn and grow.
With that, here is the first part of that 2018 post. I have added a few references in bold (except for the opening sentence, which is bold in the original post).
The three key words in that statement are mindful, purposeful, and proactive. Those words can be interpreted in different ways and can have different inferences attached. This is what those three words mean to me in the context of coaching and learning.
- Mindful: engaged with and aware of self, surroundings, and situation (without judgement to gain wisdom)
- Purposeful: possessing clear goals, meanings, and intentions
- Proactive: creating situations that move towards goals and anticipate future needs and changes
Helping others to be purposeful requires that I be purposeful myself. To that end, I want to illustrate the framework that I am using to exist and function in a teaching/learning environment. I recognize that there are different frameworks that can be constructed and I encourage you to create your own after engaging in research and introspection. A deep knowledge and incorporation of this framework allows all that I do in teaching and learning to flow from it and retain coherency. I believe that this coherency is perhaps the most important manifestation of purposefulness.
I believe that being purposeful and proactive go hand in hand. The work of creating a rich and coherent framework must come before I apply it to my coaching. I think that I must then help the athletes to understand the framework I am creating around and with them. The other end of the spectrum is what I think of as "Titanic coaching", where coach and athlete don't know what they are trying to sail around until after they run into it. (This is a form of reactive coaching, which I'll have more to say about in the future.) While the path of learning may not be straight, we can still define that path clearly, which will help us be more efficient and successful in our coaching and learning.
So the most engaging, meaningful, and productive coaching and learning I can do is a product of the deliberate creation of a framework and the sharing of that framework with those I teach and learn with. By sharing and modeling this work, we encourage those around us to adopt similar efforts. (The deliberate creation of a framework may be the most important preparation we do for coaching and teaching.)
Here is the second half of my original post. Parts that I am changing are stricken through or in italics. My comments and additions appear below.
- Growth Mindset: Almost everything we do is a skill or is composed of skills rather than fixed talents or abilities. We can improve our skills through deliberate practice.
- Proactive Thinking/Focus Cycle: Our typical thought process is reactive, which leaves us feeling as though we do not have as much control over our thoughts and actions as we really do. Shifting to a proactive thinking cycle frees us to perform closer to our current potential.
and Single Item Focus:
Being aware of the skills we are performing as well as how we would like to perform them, often to the exclusion of other things, helps us to clarify our performance as well as to shape how we want to perform in the future.
- Shared Language and Vision: As coaches, we are at our best when we fully engage our athletes. To fully engage an athlete, we must deliberately work on building a language that is understood by both. Further, we must use that language to articulate what we want to accomplish together.
We are more likely to understand and trust people who are clear and consistent in their intentions and actions. To more effectively teach, I must always work to keep an athlete's trust by being constant in a sea of change.
- Mindset: The New Psychology of Success by Carol S. Dweck
- Thanks for the Feedback: The Science and Art of Receiving Feedback Well by Douglas Stone, Sheila Heen
Motor Control and Learning: A Behavioral Emphasis by Richard A. Schmidt, Tim Lee
- Self-Determination Theory: Basic Psychological Needs in Motivation, Development, and Wellness by Richard M. Ryan, Edward L. Deci
- The Inner Game of Tennis: The Classic Guide to the Mental Side of Peak Performance by W. Timothy Gallwey
- The Courage to Teach by Parker J. Palmer
- Ego Is the Enemy by Ryan Holiday
American Development Model by the US Olympic Committee USOC Quality Coaching Framework by the US Olympic Committee
- I am uncomfortable with my reliance on growth mindset. While how I teach still relies on considering most traits to be changeable, I don't regularly use the term "growth mindset" as I teach. The state of the research on growth mindset is a bit mixed at this point. Some researchers, particularly Dweck, Yeager, Paunesku, and Walton, find growth mindset interventions to be successful in many classroom settings. Some researchers, like Li and Bates and Sisk, et al., question some of the findings of the growth mindset researchers. My relatively uninformed opinion is that the research will eventually come down in favor of growth mindset but I also think that we will learn a great deal about how to effectively implement it on both large and small scales.
- I still support a proactive thinking cycle for athletes and coaches but my implementation of it is changing as a result of my move towards an ecological dynamics-based approach to skill acquisition.
- My approach to mindfulness is shifting for a few reasons. As I referenced above, mindfulness means something different to me now than it did three years ago. I do still find simple mindfulness to be valuable but I no longer agree with how I framed it above. First, there is a great deal of research about external versus internal focus of attention in motor learning. In my original post, I framed mindfulness as focusing on internal states and I would rather have athletes focused externally instead. There is a metacognitive aspect to mindfulness that I think is important because I think that we need to be aware of our thoughts and emotions since these can affect our physical performance. The most important shift for me is from internal to external focus of attention.
- I still believe that shared understanding is vital to communication between teachers and learners. I overlooked an important aspect of this shared understanding though. If we are to truly share understanding, then the teacher must be open to not only listening to their learners but to incorporating some of their perspectives into the shared environment. There must be a collaborative relationship rather than a top-down flow in which the learner and teacher share understanding because the teacher establishes what is to be understood and how it is to be understood. This is based primarily on my reading of self determination theory as well as other learning theories that incorporate aspects of autonomy.
- As I emphasized in the opening of this post, I believe that my best teaching comes when I am more authentic than consistent. I think that is a better way of framing the consistency that I wrote about as a pillar. I think that learners can trust teachers that are consistent because the learners come to know what to expect from their teachers. I think that this is better than being inconsistent, but I think that being authentic is more enabling and supportive to learners than just being consistent. I should be consistent in my commitment to their learning and development and showing them that is what makes me authentic.
- I crossed out the motor learning text because my thinking has been greatly complicated by ecological dynamics and the constraints-led approach to coaching. I think that it is still important to learn about the information processing approach to skill acquisition (which is what most would consider to be "classic" motor learning) but there is much more out there for us to consider.
- To that end, I want to add The Constraints-Led Approach: Principles for Sports Coaching and Practice Design by Ian Renshaw, Keith Davids, Daniel Newcombe, and Will Roberts
- I crossed out the two USOC papers, even though I see value in them, because I see some problems with each. After reflecting on it further, I think that the ADM does not do enough to actively discourage an emphasis on competing at younger ages. This is something that is much clearer in Istvan Balyi's Long Term Athlete Development model upon which the ADM is based. The ADM doesn't address competing at the younger ages, allowing for American coaches to continue to stress winning, even at youth and grassroots levels. The Quality Coaching Framework places an emphasis on "procedural knowledge, the skills, technique, and tactics of the game" (Cushion, et al., 2013, p. 220). As I wrote in the opening to this post, I think that a complete framework needs to include views on epistemology and what one believes about oneself and not just what one believes about the game.
- The Gardner and the Carpenter by Alison Gopnik for its explanations of exploration over exploitation and "parenting"
- Make It Stick: The Science of Successful Learning by Brown, Roediger, and McDaniel because, even though I question how some of their ideas apply to motor learning, they still have much to offer us about how we plan and structure learning opportunities
- Ecological dynamics and CLA may not yet be the complete answer but they are valuable, athlete-centered ways to coach. These frameworks invite coaches to become designers of learning environments instead of communicators of knowledge.
- Learning, especially in team sports, is situated. It happens in the context of athletes, activities, and the world. It is not a matter of what we know but of what we do. Coaching means creating opportunities for athletes to demonstrate their learning through actions rather than words.
- Less telling, more asking. I need to stop assuming I know what an athlete is seeing, feeling, and thinking. Also, because of the embodied nature of learning, I need to understand that athletes might not be able to tell me what they just did. But I can ask them questions that require actions instead of words, e.g. "can you do that again?"