Monday, April 28, 2014

Coaching VS Teaching

Recently I have been exposed to a series of articles, papers, and ideas about coaching. What makes a good coach? and how the attitudes of persistence, resistance, and acceptance are significantly important in the coach's career.

It looks like the idea of coaching started in Oxford in 1830 where tutors "carried" their students through tests. To read more about the origins click here. So the idea of coach as carrier began at that time, now of course is used in several ways from instruction to management. In sports of course is also related to organizing a team to compete and win.

To compete and win in sports is a metaphor for learning today in a competitive environment where testing is used to advance education and to obtain the certificated that allows the student to professionalize his/her life. So here is where I want to compare and evaluate the values of coaching in the teaching-learning environment happening within the traditional classroom setting and its implication in the online environment. How can we be efficient teacher/coaches through online relationships. What kind of substitutes can we find for "body language" and other personal interactions and how can we use these personal interaction in an effective coaching/teaching in the classroom.

When ever I start a new class I go around shaking hands and greeting my students one by one to have a personal touch as I give each one a welcoming letter where I explain the mechanics of the class as well as the context in which the class will develop, including of course expectations. I articulate what I expect from them and what can they expect from me. After this introduction I always mention that the reason I shake hands is because I believe that if you can't touch them you can't teach them. We will have a high-tech high-touch class.
Unfortunately for many students the teacher's role puts the teacher in an adversarial position. Many see the teacher as the enemy and think that the teacher is there to block and stop them by examinations. Testing is seen as a barrier, as an obstacle created and managed by the teacher. Students do not see the teacher as a supportive instrument in their education. They don't see the teacher as a coach that will carry them through the process of learning.

So the question is how can a teacher become a coach? What kind of didactic instruments are there to change the adversarial relationship into a constructive collaborative relationship. How can we create a "trusting" environment where the student feels confident about relying on the teacher that is now seen as a coach?

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