Put Me In Coach

Practice may or may not ever make perfect, but it undoubtedly helps make both skills and attitudes permanent. Targeted interventions to address specific gaps in learning are essential, but it is vital for this practice to be closely monitored to ensure sound skills’ development. After all, misguided practice merely further ingrains bad habits and existing misconceptions. Regardless of the quality of these isolated interventions, however, all students require, and deserve, routine opportunities for meaningful applications.

If given the opportunity, some students can convey a sound grasp of an overall concept, even though they have clear gaps in some key underlying content skills. Acquiring competence and confidence in any endeavour is not simply a linear progression that culminates with being allowed to actually play the game. Just as artists and athletes routinely follow an endless schedule of practice – performance – practice – performance, students must also have routine opportunities to follow a similar learning loop. Students must constantly be allowed, and encouraged, to apply acquired, or still developing, skills in relevant contextual situations. This process will help them truly appreciate the “bigger picture”, identify which specific skills require additional practice, and, most importantly, help motivate them for future learning.

It is no fun frequently sitting on the bench, as many young athletes are painfully aware. Just as the more skilled athletes typically receive far more playing time and play more impactful positions, the more proficient students typically receive far more opportunities to meaningfully apply and explore concepts. Authentic problem solving and real-world applications of concepts must be offered to all learners, in all schools, at all times.

No athlete or artist would ever be subjected to endless practice, with little or no chance of performing. All of our students deserve similar routine opportunities to show what they know.

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