Why Aren’t We Teaching That?

I often reflect back on my experiences in one class at UNB. It was a class that I never thought I would use, because I thought I wasn’t going to be a classroom teacher. I was going to be teaching all day, every day in the gym. You see the class that I didn’t think was going to be important to my career became the most invaluable experience of my life.

It’s been about twenty-two years since I took the course and to be brutally honest, I forget what it was even called, but Dr. Walter Ott was the professor and he taught us how to teach.

I realize that’s a strangely unique way of saying that, but it’s true.

Dr. Ott taught us how to survive and thrive in a classroom. He taught us all the tricks of the trade. He timed us, he insured our various teaching topics/lessons were accurate and on point.

You see Dr Ott, was the perfect candidate for teaching future beginning teachers how to do the job.

From planning, to all the preparation, Ott’s focus, purpose and message was an extremely fierce. When he spoke, everyone listened. Not because he was some authoritarian, because you could hardly hear him. His ultra-quiet voice was incredibly difficult to hear, but did it ever resonate. You see Dr. Walter Ott, taught his students the why and how. Now think about that for a minute.

The why and how? This is why you approach or teach it this way and this is the how, he showed us how to teach, he showed us what to expect. What a groundbreaking perspective eh? Now take a second to think back to your favorite teacher or coach.

They always taught the why and how.

They combined and taught those two massively important principles so well. You never ever noticed the difference, but yet always had blast in their class or on their team.

In a world where the classroom or sports arena is ever changing, the people in charge are treating everyone all the same. The cookie cutter approach works sometimes, but when it comes to preparing young teachers or players they why and how, it ultimately sets them up for failure.

Sadly colleges and universities never offer a practical class for future teachers to learn “the how’s and why’s” to teach. Obviously, they provide the practicum component of the program, but they never show or explain the reality behind a true classroom dynamic. Don’t get me wrong they discuss it or have an abundance of theory that support pedagogical outcomes and all the educational buzz words, but they never ever show or model the reality of what a teacher really goes through.

To quote Rickey off Trailer Park Boys, “Oh it’s all about your book-learning.”

You can create the best lesson plans in the world and be an expert in the field your teaching, but if you don’t have a clue how to manage a classroom you’re screwed.

You can have the best drills in hockey, but if you can’t break them down and truly teach and model them and get across they “why and how” then you won’t go places as a coach.  

That’s all “book-learning” where’s the practical side, where’s the reality behind your teaching philosophies or practices?

Can you imagine an institution of higher learning not providing future educators with practical applications to their future profession?

Can you imagine a sports institution or association appointing hockey coaches, that know all the X’s and O’s, but have no clue how to connect or teach kids?

Well surprise, surprise that’s happening.

Wouldn’t it be great to see educational programs provide a course or multiple courses called “Teaching 101.”

For once, I think the hockey world is trying to lead the way when it comes to advanced coaching principles and the instruction process. Coaching level courses are intense and rigorous, but sadly at the end of the day, the minor associations get final say and we all know what that means, hello politics.

I was blessed to have a student teacher for 14 weeks this year. My favourite saying or quote throughout their time here was “that’s the shit they don’t teach you.”

Why aren’t we teaching that?

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