Saturday, October 20, 2012

Never Neglect Insignificance

I read a blog the other day about the leadership of the winningest coach in NCAA basketball history, John Wooden. I wondered what epic leaders do differently, and I was shocked to find that the first lesson that Wooden taught his players was how to correctly put on their socks. Really?? Socks??? His rationale was rather simple. If the players can't put on their socks correctly, they will get blisters on their feet. Once that happens, no amount of leadership, motivation or coaching will make the player effective or successful.

So What are the Socks in Education?

To me, it seems that the socks of education are support and how to access it. Teachers stay covered up in the ever changing mandates and accountability pressure. If educators don't have the necessary supports in place, they will surely get blisters or burnout; thus, knocking them out of the game. Sadly, many leave the teaching field because their lack of support gave them a poor impression of the profession all together.

How Do We Correctly Put on our Socks?

From day one teachers must hear and feel from their coach or leader  that the leader's job is to support and serve the teachers. The leader and fellow teachers are the socks that prevent initial injury.  Teachers must also know the detailed expectations for how to be prepared with the curricular, instructional and assessment practices of the district. This takes lots of organization on the leader's part to ensure that teachers are adequately prepared for success in the classroom. If teachers do not receive support through mentors, teams and pacing guides with important details, the path of student performance will be left to chance, and leaders will be left with unreliable results on whether students are learning or not.

Once We have our Socks on Correctly...

Players are ready to grow and perform by receiving feedback that is concise and precise, positive and constructive, direct and affirming.  Leaders can help players capitalize on mistakes by turning them into coaching points. Coaches must avoid being critical and punitive in their tone and actions because the player will never be receptive to future ideas of how they can improve. Players are conditioned  by the coach's daily interactions, and it is important to make sure the coach doesn't condition players to never reveal mistakes and even worse present a false facade that all is well.  Failure on the leader's part to establish this critical line of trusting communication could result in many kids failing, and this would be due to the leader creating conditions for the player  to fear having their mistakes used against them.  In short the relationship between the coach and the player keeps the socks on correctly.

Buzzer Beater

There is nothing more exciting than watching a buzzer beating shot in a closely contested basketball game.  The reason that John Wooden is the most prolific coach in NCAA basketball history is because his teams were consistently victorious. He was a masterful motivator, but even more important, he became a legend because never neglected details that seemed insignificant.

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