A very strange year.
Lots of free time (too much free time) spent online.
Not all frivolous — I did commit to finding out more about online teaching, and was struck by the emphasis that educators (those delivering the online courses I took, at least) placed on how people learn. Which highlighted for me just how important it is for teaching (and coaching) to adapt to support learning, both online and face-to-face.
Obvious, perhaps. But how often do we consider the learner’s experience of learning when planning and delivering a session? Yes, it has to be Fun and Engaging, Challenging, perhaps. Purposeful. Active. Safe.
But do we ever stop to think about what we are really doing when we coach? Or how athlete’s actually learn?
In 2020, I published 12 posts categorised under “pedagogy” (a category I have stretched to cover any post which discusses how we coach: theory, practice & philosophy).
The journey started pre-lockdown, in early March, with ECB Activator Tutor Training, and my first introduction to the philosophy underlying the Create Development approach to delivering engaging PE activities.
The iCoachKids MOOC Coaching on the Ground: Planning, Doing & Reviewing challenged my use of the coaching toolkit.
Both the iCoachKids MOOC and a series of (online) courses on how to deliver online education (designed for teachers sent home from school in early lockdown and told to switch to remote teaching) highlighted the need for teachers and coaches to modify their practice to accommodate how people learn. Perhaps most enlightening was an introduction to Diana Laurillard’s “conversational framework” to facilitate learning i.e. a dialogue between teacher and student, between coach and player, subject and learner.
The next unexpected digression was into the works of Alfred North Whitehead — in a series of lectures delivered shortly after the First World War, Whitehead formulated an ideal curriculum as developing through stages of romance, precision and generalisation, which fitted perfectly with the concept of matching coaching to how athletes learn — they get excited by “the game” (whatever it might be), try to learn a new skill, then find ways to apply that skill in competition.
Another (apparent) digression — Mosston’s Spectrum of Teaching Styles presents the teacher or coach with a range of teaching options, to be selected based on the needs of the learner — how best to teach them?
Another example of putting the learner at the centre of learning was encapsulated by Barak Rosenshine’s concept of learner Rehearsal — the Educator (teacher or coach) provides a model solution, then facilitates extensive practice (or rehearsal), both supervised and independent. Not so far from Whitehead’s Precision-Generalisation (but lacking any Romance).
An unexpected and challenging diversion from actual coaching, but one that I expect to colour my coaching in the future (when I finally get back to coaching, that is).
It has become something of a lockdown obsession — what are we really doing when we are coaching?
The next question might prove to be more important — what are the learners doing when I am coaching?
Could be 2021’s obsession.