Sunday, March 18, 2012

Choosing books for a coach

There are two stories here that mesh very well on coaching, teaching and learning. My wonderful stepson, Will, just finished up his first season playing basketball at high school. His coach was a young and engagingly friendly young man who went out of his way to praise Will and his teammates for their efforts through the season. We wanted to be able to give him a gift to recognize his time and effort with all the boys and particularly with Will. We suggested that Will choose from several of the leadership/coaching books that I have kicking around the house. Lest we were to be choosing forever, he suggested that I pick three books and then have Will pick one from the three I chose.

It's often been said that I enjoy reading and I've undergone a complete transformation in what I read over the past five or six years. Whereas I used to exclusively read non-fiction I have now done a complete 180 and gone almost entirely with fiction books. Several of these books can be seen to the right --> on my Shelfari bookshelf which is a neat little widget you can add to a blog. I usually have two or three of these books sitting on my bedside table, waiting (somewhat patiently) to be read. I had a very hard time narrowing the choices to only three! In the end, I wanted to make sure that the books wouldn't be chosen by their cover - they needed to look somewhat similar so that one book wouldn't win because it had an entirely different jacket design than another. That meant that Daniel Pink's A Whole New Mind was out since it's cover is bright orange and differs significantly from the books below. It also had to be accessible in Canada (sorry, which meant that Character in Coaching: Building Virtue in Athletic Programs was also out. Both of these are books which I would not hesitate to recommend to both teachers and coaches and teacher-coaches, specifically in the later instance.

The three I chose for Will to choose from were mainly recent reads and the content of each book is something that I think about quite often in relation to both teaching and coaching. I've had several conversations with coaching and teaching colleagues on all of the books below related to teaching and coaching. The content provides incredible food for thought and definitely cuts into my REM sleep since putting these books down is a tough task. Below are the three books I chose:

One, Drive by Daniel Pink. By the way, Daniel Pink also has an amazing blog on all things from his books and more - it's a very interesting read and worth checking out whether you have read his books or not. Drive talks about how we should be motivated by autonomy in both business and education. In my understanding, if something relates to education then it likely relates to sport. I've found that when I have given both students and athletes autonomy in choosing what they learn and how they learn it (within, of course, the confines of the Ministry of Education or the sport season) their learning becomes almost exponential. This takes equal parts knowledge, trust, work and dedication to the task at hand. Of course, Drive talks about other types of motivation and many other parts of 21st Century learning, however, this is the one area which I feel is most applicable to coaching and teaching.

Two, The Talent Code by Dan Coyle. Coyle also has a blog filled with riveting and intellectually stimulating information. His book talks mainly about how purposeful, deep and focussed practice creates an expert. This is, of course, understating the scope of Coyle's writing, however, I believe it to be the crux of the novel. An expert, in Coyle's book, can be a teacher, performer, coach, athlete or musician. In my mind, I believe all of these professions have impacts on people that society mainly hopes are positive. Becoming an expert here can only benefit the small slice of humanity with whom each person comes in contact.

Three, Mindset by Carol Dweck. Dweck has a website called Brainology that is extremely helpful to coaches and educators. In a future blog I will speak about some of the ideas she mentioned in her book and how I used them in my classroom to promote self-belief and student achievement. In this book, Dweck talks about the two mindsets, "growth" and "fixed". The premise is that choosing the growth mindset allows a person to continue to grow though failure, risk-taking and a genuine love of learning while the fixed mindset sees learning as a chore and that one who does not need to work is successful and one who needs to work or to take risks is unsuccessful (ie, people in a fixed mindset are naturally talented). The book allows the reader to glean insight into the growth mindset through numerous studies and could even change minds about the mindset that is chosen early in life.

I'm curious which book you would have chosen...which book would you have picked and why? I'll share the final choice in my next post.

1 comment:

  1. Here are a couple to try Beth:
    1. Outliers - Malcolm Gladwell
    2. InSideOut Coaching - Joe Ehrmann
    3. Psychology of Coaching Team Sports
    by Larry M. Leith