Variating Your Teaching Techniques Practice. It is a dreaded word among athletes, students and, yes, coaches and teachers. Our practice is referred to as a “meeting”. Whether that is going over set plays or learning your “times tables”, the monotony of block practice can put the most enthusiastic and energetic individuals in a comatose state. Of course, this isn’t the case for coaches and teachers. This is our time to shine, and let’s be honest, control the situation. If we don’t like what is going on, we can stop everything and have our students/athletes complete the task OUR way. That is the best way to do it right? The way you learned to do it. That is what Frank Sinatra taught us, it’s best to do it my way.
Here’s the kicker with that philosophy, your way may not work for everyone. A colleague of mine teaches athletes to shoot a basketball with their feet slanted at a 450 angle, which lines up their shoulder and elbow to the rim, and finish with their ten toes pointing at a 900 angle. In theory, as long as their hand finishes towards the rim, the only way they should miss their shot is short or long, not left or right. In theory it works really well, however, for individuals such as myself who grew up practicing with ten toes to the rim, it is uncomfortable and ineffective.
For a pop culture example, we turn to the 2002 film Drumline. Here, star drummer Devon Miles, played by Nick Cannon, learned how to play through the use of observational practice. This gave him the opportunity to play in his college’s marching band, however, to go even further he had to learn how to read music. It is the quint essential example of how multiple teaching styles can help an individual attain their highest potential.
Recently, I was asked to monitor a band class due to the teacher having to leave early. Going into the classroom I had no idea what to expect. Surely, I was not going to be teaching them anything at all. I was rather annoyed upon arrival because the sound of 15 different instruments being played at once to their own beat can be a bit overwhelming. I found myself in a vulnerable situation, I could not tell them they were doing something wrong, I had no knowledge or skill to make such an accusation. The most I would be able to contribute is an opinion on music history, so I decided to simply sit back, play the role of crowd control and observe.
The interesting thing about music is it is very unforgiving. If you play or sing a note the wrong way, it doesn’t sound good and even the most uneducated ear can tell you that. Not to mention, we all listen to music, and in today’s society, everyone has an opinion. Frankly, they are probably some of the bravest individuals in society and I have always been amazed by the teamwork and precision marching bands and orchestras display. After about five minutes or so, people started pairing up and working on different pieces of music. I focused in on a student playing the piano. Hand on his head, fingers and ears finely tuned into the keys as he listened for the note he was searching for.
Turning my attention back to small group, unscripted/unprompted peer leadership started to display as the group started to jam. Out of nowhere, as if he had been spoken to by the spirits of Beethoven and Ray Charles, he joined into the group playing with precision and flare. No music sheets, no instructor. Just a fine tuned ear (intrinsic feedback), passion and the gifted freedom of discovery. How great is that? Imagine if your classroom, practice field or office fostered the same environment.
There is another proverbial kicker though, you have to give up some control and ask for feedback. It can be scary even for the most seasoned of leaders, but it is well worth it. Here are some ways you can start to incorporate different ways to promote growth within your organization immediately. Block practice: the traditional style, the individual practices the same skill multiple times before progressing to another skill. Crawl -> walk -> jog -> run
Random practice: practice involves multiple skills being practiced in a random order during a given practice session. This can be planned or randomly selected to keep you on your toes. You can even ask for suggestions during the practice session.
Variable practice:includes variations of the same skill within a single practice session as opposed to specific practice in which a specific skill is repeated multiple times. This is perfect for small sided games such as 1v1, 2v2, 3v3
Observational (action) practice:or practice through observation of the task or skill to be performed, has important implications for motor skill learning. Think of this when individuals learn something through social media, YouTube or while observing you teach.
Explicit instructions:include prescriptive information that gives the individual the “rules” for effectively executing the task. These are great for the beginner or for when you are helping correct deficiencies. Click Here
Guided discovery:provides the individual with instructions about the overall movement goal and important prompts for task accomplishment without explicitly telling the individual how to accomplish the task. Guided discovery provides the individual with instructions about the overall movement goal and important prompts for task accomplishment without explicitly telling the individual how to accomplish the task. Give your athletes a scenario and allow them to figure out on their own. Click Here
Discovery: instructs the individual on the overarching goal of the task and the individual receives little to no direction. “I want you to pick this weight up and put it on the rack”. Stand back and observe the deficiencies.
Intrinsic feedback: is feedback provided to the individual by the individual from the senses—refer back to our example earlier of the student listening to music or think of a golfer talking themselves through their swing after practicing a couple of times.
Augmented feedback: is feedback provided to the individual by either an observer, such as a coach, or technology, such as video or laboratory equipment. Knowledge of results provides the athlete with information about the execution of the task goal. For example, with athletics, a coach can show an athlete quickly and efficiently they performed an agility test.Knowledge of performance feedback provides the athlete with information about his or her movement pattern.
Have a great story, idea or unique techniques you use that you’d like to share? I would love to hear them! Please forward them via e-mail or use #UNCOMMON.
Phenomenal piece written by Mr. @ChrisEgi15. I truly believe the difference between people who make a difference and those who add to the problem is the ability to express your emotions in an intelligent productive manner. To respond with anger and rage is to provide unintentional ignorant fuel to an unfortunate fire. Be the water the smothers the flames, not the tinder that harvests it.
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