I have always wanted my players to understand the “why” behind the way we teach things. It might be why we align in a particular way, or the reason we take a six-inch step, or even why we kneel down on a specific knee. I firmly believe that understanding the “whys” leads to a deeper learning and understanding.
Along with that philosophy, comes the importance of questions and checking for understanding. I explain to my athletes that they can always ask “why”. I also explain the caveat that there are correct times and ways to do the asking. Having a confrontational debate about the value of taking a six-inch step, right in the middle of practice is not the correct way to ask a question. On the other hand, responding to “why” we want something done in a specific way with, “because that is the way we want it done”, is probably a bit shallow. Teaching young student-athletes how to have an adult conversation … how and when to ask a question… is an important skill.
Questioning does not need to be an adversarial or authority challenging venture. An open, Socratic Seminar type of atmosphere not only will increase your athletes understanding of a concept, but also help you in checking for understanding. If athletes are afraid or uncomfortable to ask questions, it makes checking for understanding a little tricky. It is often easy to ask, “OK, did everyone get that?”; you often have no idea how many of your players are thinking to themselves, “No, I have no idea what you are talking about, but I am not about to let everyone know I am confused.”
About a week ago I received an email from a colleague who asked this question:
“Just read your blog article on making a screencast. How would you capture video on an iPad?”
It was an excellent question that showed me that I omitted an important consideration in my post. I discussed using a Mac or a PC, but did not mention how to capture from a device that more and more coaches are using… an iPad. It was actually a problem and a workaround that I had encountered myself a few months ago. This question not only showed me there was a void, but made it easy for me to fill it in. To make a screencast from in iPad, I use an app called Reflector (see my post Apps for the Coach), which will mirror anything (video included) that is running on your iPad to your Mac. While the video (or App, or anything else) is running on your Mac, you can make a screencast as you normally would. (See my post Making a Screen Recording)
If this question had not been asked, I would not have realized my omission. The question helped me check for understanding with my readers. It allowed to clarify, explain… to teach better.
How do you check for understanding with your athletes? How often do you check for understanding with your athletes? Are your players comfortable in asking why? Are you comfortable explaining why? If we are waiting until Friday night to “see if they got it”, it may be too late.
The new issue of PrepsKC is out… both in print and online. My column can be found at this link … You Can Do More – PrepsKC … if you get a chance pick up a copy or head over the their site and “Like” todays post.
Jeff Floyd – firstname.lastname@example.org