Teachers as Coaches & Coaching of Teachers
In a sporting match, coaches never take the task from the players, but they skill the players in how to perform to their best ability. This approach can also be applied in the classroom. Instead of expecting the teacher to know the answers to everything, the ZERI Learning System suggests being more a knowledge facilitator, guiding children through their learning experiences, helping them to develop thinking skills. Teaching in this way is more like coaching students through their own learning process.
Children exposed to this learning system will navigate thousands of connections that their teachers have never even contemplated. At first teachers will be on a par with the students. Soon, however, the children will have worked through so many thought processes that they will acquire the capacity to link many disparate pieces of knowledge. They will even connect more information than a highly trained pedagogue will ever have been exposed to.
This raises questions about the new role of teachers who now have to address unfamiliar topics with confidence. However with the provision of supportive background material, it is possible to empower teachers in this new role, particularly in the context of rigid academic curricula. The teacher’s role as a coach is to reveal information to the students and allow them to make the connections. Discovering information needs to be challenging for learners, to achieve real growth. Being 'spoon fed' knowledge does not create conditions in which children can work to discover, and so the discoveries are less meaningful. The role of the coach is to challenge their children, to create an atmosphere in which learners constantly push themselves to keep on learning.
It is crucial for students to learn to think for themselves, to discover and make connections for themselves, so that they gain ownership over their learning experiences. Empowering learners in this way is vital in order to give them the capacity to implement change in their world. It is important for students to understand how quick fixes and rapid explanations are not part of the grand quest for sustainability. Instant gratification, often available in consumption and entertainment in the modern world, is not a feature of the learning system that we have designed. That is one reason they do not get bored. In order for our children to be able to contribute to a society capable of responding the to basic needs of all ( and not only people) it is essential that they think positively and have confidence in their abilities. We need a generation who will critically asses the status quo, verbalize what they do and do not like or understand, and search for solutions.
The children exposed to the rapid sequences of connections involved in each of Gunter's fables learn how to go beyond the obvious. Coached by their teachers, children using the ZERI learning initiative are engaged in an ongoing interplay between their fantasies and their sense of reality. Their reality is now based on “fantastic” science that they can use to interact with the world around them. With this skill firmly imparted, the coach can sit back and let their learners create positive, enthusiastic visions for their futures and the futures of the communities around them.
Coaching strategies for teachers will be found in a Tool Kit (not yet released) that will make the process of introducing the ZERI Learning System into the classroom within reach of all educators. At the moment we are looking for pioneering teachers to help build on the catalogue of experiences of the ZERI learning Initiative in different cultural environments. We want to develop the platform for this initiative to reach out to children and their coaches all over the world. (If you are interested please send us an E-MAIL)
By now some 330,000 students and 8,000 teachers have participated in the programs in one form or another on 4 continents.
©Copyright 2014, BlueKidsbyZERI All Rights Reserved. Online or physical reprint with express permission only.