Student Contribution to Class Success
The premise of my book You Haven't Taught Until They Have Learned is, since John Wooden said, he learned how to coach by teaching high school English, many of the principles for successful coaching can be applied to classroom teaching. One of those principles is student contribution to class success.
As you might expect, at UCLA, some players played a lot in games while others spent the majority of the time on the bench. John Wooden's formula for winning allowed for only seven players to play. But by no means did that mean, the others, like me, were not major contributors to the championships. On the contrary, the supporting cast played a large role, mostly by challenging the "starters" every day in practice.
For example, if the upcoming opponent had a very physical center, I was trained to play against Bill Walton exactly in that fashion, down to the very moves that player made. Likewise, when the opponent had a great outside shooter, another one of us "scrubs" would fill that role, casting long-range shots during practice, whenever possible. (It was kind of fun by the way.)
John Wooden didn't dispense very many words of praise in any given practice, sometimes not at all. But the majority of his encouragements were aimed at those that were not going to participate that weekend. Why? He wanted all of us "subs" to know, our contribution in practice was of equal value to the contribution of the starters in the games. More than once, Coach Wooden told me, "You are giving Bill everything he can handle. Keep it up. It's making him, and us, better."
Is this possible in the classroom? You betcha. My 9th-grade journalism/poetry teacher, Mrs. Rochte, made it very clear in September, the goal of the class was for everyone to get the highest grade possible, even if that meant we all got As. Throughout the year and in many ways, she continued to make that point until we all bought in to that culture. Her plan was for all students to be engaged in assisting others and she created many opportunities for us to do so. In addition, some of us were given responsibilities such as taking attendance, sharpening pencils, handing out papers, and even grading quizzes. Mrs. Rochte made it a point to recognize contribution when it occurred. My friends, that wonderful culture that she and we created, made me look forward to school every day.
This type of teaching is not always possible but I believe it can be applied, to a degree, in every classroom.