July 31, 2009
One morning last week we were watching a grandfather working with his grandson. Heads bent together, the elder of the family taught his young protégé to plant a prickly barrel cactus. Hand over hand, he spoke quiet words of coaching and encouragement, modeling as well as guiding the tools which would accomplish the task. With patience and togetherness they finished the task to the grandfather's high standards. The young man beamed at his grandfather as his Papa' clapped him on the back for a job well done.
Later that week, we noticed the two were back. This time the young grandson was working on his own, away from his grandfather with his own tools, planting his own plants. Grandfather came over periodically to give feedback or more coaching, but it was clear the young man had learned how to plant the cactus well enough to be successful on his own.
The two of us couldn't quit talking about what we'd witnessed. We just had to wonder if the young man would have been nearly as successful in such a short time-frame if he would have been part of a large group of people learning how to plant the persnickety barrel, saguaro and prickly pear cactus.
We are always amazed when we look back at our early teaching years. Doing the best we knew at the time, yet teaching all of those kids in one big group with the 'spray and pray' method. If any of those students happen to be reading this, please accept our apologies!
We believe in the individual coaching model and have seen it work, not only in our own classrooms but in the real world as well. Planning for individual coaching sessions can create kids who are off and running in no time, just like the darling grandchild in the picture above.