Sunday, January 25, 2009

Coaches ... by C.R. Hoff

At a recent work study meeting of the Federal Way School Board, no public in attendance, the following question was on the wall. “How does Federal Way Public Schools become one of the best performing school systems?”

The answer may shock you. It is their belief that by providing “coaches” for classroom teachers they can “coach” teachers to become better teachers! While the “old dog new tricks” phrase comes to mind, I do believe that “some” teachers can be “taught” better practices. There has been no mention of “improving the raw material” by “coaching” kids and their parents, which is where I believe the most dramatic improvements can be made.

Let’s look at the “coach” concept a little more carefully. Teachers want to assure us that they are “professionals,” so it might be worth a look at some other “professionals” and how they are coached. Many of you know of my lack of interest in professional athletics, so some of my assumptions might just be a little slanted but here goes.

First we need to remember that in professional football the success rate of the “teams” of “well coached professionals” have only a 50% success rate if winning is the measure of success. How many of you would like to send your kids to a school where the success rate was 50%? Oops! That is well above the success rate of many of our kids in our schools!

The professionals we see on the fields, if we are watching, today are all the products of a mostly taxpayer funded “filtering” system that involves a scouting of high school games, and then on to a mostly taxpayer funded “farm team” system called “college.” As we know all too well around here the “coaches” in the farm teams are very well paid. If at any time the players don’t seem up to the standards of the coaches, they are eliminated from the game based solely upon the opinion of the coach. No “panels”, “studies” “appeals,” just go!

Finally after these almost daily filters have distilled the population down to approximately 1 of the 16,000 beginners, the players arrive on the professional practice field. Here highly paid coaches have an approximately 1 to 12 coach to teacher ratio, they coach them for several hours a day. Still this amount of effort only produces a 50% success rate, and the “drop-out” rates are pretty steep.

Let’s take a look at the “education game.” Here we take some, not all, of the farm teams, (high schools) average players, put most of them in less than competitive training camps, (teacher’s colleges) without even any scouting, and coach to student ratios of 1 to 30 or more. After four or more years of this less than intensive coaching we bring them onto the field with almost no practice and, in the case of Federal Way, one coach for, in secondary schools, up to 80 “players!” Could this be why we don’t have much of a success rate?

But wait! However, coaches are not the highly paid coaches of the college and professional leagues. They have to operate under quite a different set of rules! According to the “rules” for these coaches “they cannot be directed to work with a player by the head coach (administration), and have to be “non evaluative” in their relationship with the player! No benching or red shirting allowed!

How well do you suppose our professional teams would do with these rules? Perhaps the Huskies this year might have looked good!

Educators seem bound and determined that they can “fix” education without pulling the parents into the struggle. What I believe is even more needed is for educators, and lawmakers, to decide what the minimum qualifications are for being a responsible parent. This state has just started an academy in Bremerton for kids who have come to learn that “there are no rules.” In my estimation, based upon what I have seen in classrooms, on the streets, and in the homes where I tutor, this academy should be the largest school in the state! When a student is enrolled there the parents should be attending a parallel program.

While we may have some “poor” teachers we have many more “poor” students, “bad raw material.” President Obama says it very clearly, “No amount of money can buy achievement.” Instead of hiring coaches for teachers, we need to be hiring coaches for parents, no training required for this title, and the coaches need to be able to “bench.”

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

"Coaches" is a euphemism for teacher monitor. It will cost your district more in overhead and worse you won't see any improvements in your teachers.