Ready to Begin?

Over the past year I have attended some training put on by the Positive Coaching Alliance. While the material was presented to me in the context of coaching youth athletics (in the most excellent sport of lacrosse) I feel it has great application to how I have, and will continue to "run" classes here at NTC. 

It is called the E.L.M. Tree of Mastery. Let me explain.

There are two kinds of winners in education. One kind is the person that has scored the most points or gotten the most "A's" by the end of the semester. This is the Gradebook Winner. I want you to be a Gradebook Winner AND the other kind of winner, a Mastery Winner. A Mastery Winner gives consistently great effort, continually learns, and bounces back from mistakes.

You can be this more-important kind of winner no matter what the gradebook says. The more you, we, work at being Mastery Winners, the more likely we are to be Gradebook Winners. And the more we work at being Mastery Winners, the more likely we are to be WINNERS in life!

There are three important parts of MASTERY. In E.L.M., the E is for Effort, the L is for Learning and the M is for Mistakes are OK. Let’s go over some details of what I mean.

E is for Effort. I expect that you will give our best effort in every practice try and scenario. It’s more important to me that you try your hardest than that you get it right the first time. If you get a passing grade without giving it your best effort, then that grade doesn’t mean much. But if you try your hardest and need to make a revision, I’ll keep working with you to get it right the next time.

L is for Learning. Let’s continue learning and improving every time we come to class. If you continue to learn, you will get better. Getting better than you are now is more important than whether or not you are better than someone else in class. You can also think of this as competing with yourself; if you get better than you used to be, then you are winning that competition.

M is for Mistakes. Nobody likes to make mistakes, but mistakes are part of learning. You can’t learn without making mistakes, because to learn you have to try things that are new and challenging, so of course you are going to make mistakes. In my class, it is okay to make mistakes.

Our class will have a Mistake Ritual called Flushing Mistakes. If you make a mistake, flush it by making a motion with your arm like you are flushing a toilet so the mistake goes away. If you look at me and your classmates after a mistake, we should all make that flushing motion, too. We want to learn from our mistakes and not let them discourage us or keep us from working hard.

So, remember, as long as you give your best Effort, Learn and are not afraid of Mistakes, you are climbing the ELM Tree of Mastery, and you’ll be a winner in college and in life.

Copyright 2016 Paul H. Clarke Jr.