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Automatic English For The People

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Belichik, Parcells, Saban, and EFL

by AJ

As I contemplate the lessons of "Good to Great" I realize that my classroom teaching skills are getting there. I need to increase the intensity & efficiency of my classes. I need to waste less time. I need to provide more comprehensible input. I need to provide more concise explanations. I need to review vocabulary more intensely, by having students encounter and use the words/phrases in a variety of contexts.

Those are very doable improvements. But they aren't enough to catapult my teaching from good to great.

What, then, do I need in order to make a huge breakthrough? What dramatic distinction am I missing? Where do I truly need to kick ass?

I believe the answer to those questions can be found by examining the very best NFL (National Football League) coaches. Every coach in the NFL is good. They have the basic knowledge and skills. They know how to drill the players. They know how to develop a good playbook. They know how to train the players and they know how to prepare for a game. That's what all the good coaches do.

But the great ones have something more. Great coaches go beyond the nuts and bolts of the game. Great coaches motivate and inspire.

These coaches know how to get the most out of their players. They have great leadership skills. They know how to articulate an inspiring vision in a powerful way.

Players on their teams routinely do more than is required. They voluntarily put in extra hours at the gym. They practice harder. They study harder. In the off-season, they don't slack off. They stay in great shape and improve themselves. Great coaches inspire their players to be the best they can be, even when the coach isn't around.

That's what I'm missing. To be blunt, I have no leadership skills. I don't inspire. I have passion, but its rarely contagious. I have a vision, but don't articulate it in a powerful and motivating way. I don't bring out the best in my students.

Often I bring out the worst. I'm basically a pushover in class and this seems to encourage a rather lazy attitude in my students. I rarely inspire students to go the extra mile or put in extra time outside of class. I'm a shit motivator and that's just the ugly truth.

But I have faith that this can change. I may not have the talent to be a Belichik, Parcells, or Saban... but I can certainly acquire better leadership skills. I can learn how to be more persuasive. I can learn how to better articulate a compelling vision of success for learners in my class. This I can do.

In fact, this is something that all teachers can do... and most should do. I'm not alone in my shortcomings, after all. In fact, I don't think I've ever seen the words "leadership", "compelling vision of success", or "inspire" used in an EFL publication. The EFL teaching resources I've seen seem to have had all passion and soul sucked out of them. They are filled with dead phrases like "best practices" , but devoid of phrases that carry even a hint of fire. Many publications go out of their way to subtract "the human factor". Administrators are even worse- for this is mostly a profession for the undead. There are no goosebumps in the literature, no flashes of brilliance in the bureaucracy, and nothing to stir the soul from its slumber.

Is it any wonder our students seem half asleep?



San Francisco, CA

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