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Coaching Day

June 21, 2012

Today in physics, we took a break from the fast-paced, move-on-to-the-next-topic-everyday schedule. Instead, we had a coaching day.

I just wrote up a bunch of problems. Students worked on them as individuals, but they could come discuss with me what they were doing, or get suggestions from me if they got really stuck, or just check a solution if they felt they had figured it out. Initially, most of the coaching was given by me, but as the day went on, there was more and more student coaching. Before all of this, we had a conversation about coaching, and why athletes do certain kinds of training on their own, but why (in fact) they do a lot of their training with a coach nearby. We also talked about the role of veteran players in mentoring rookie players–the veteran don’t do the workouts or practice for the rookie when they are struggling. It would be silly for another player to lift the weights for you, or to run for you, or to practice some skill for you. Veterans can be around to give some feedback, some perspective, or even encouragement.

See usually in our class, so much of the work we do is in groups that it’s hard for me to give individualized feedback on problems. The standards-based approach I am using gives students written feedback on rather isolated standards, but not as much “in-the-moment”, “while actually solving the problem” verbal feedback. And because its often one-way feedback, I can’t tell how they are understanding or responding to my feedback.

I also think we also just all needed a break from the onslaught of those assessment quizzes. In the summer course, the assessments come too quick, and at some point this week, it got simply over whelming. So today, we took a quick break from written standards quizzes and just spent the whole day working on problems with teacher and peer coaching. All and all, I think the students who have been struggling got some much needed personalized time and feedback, and we all got a day not to be run over by new assessment and new topics.

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