Monday, November 2, 2009

Coaches and looping

Mark Roosevelt spoke to parents at the recent Excellence for All
> meeting. Video captured by Mark Rauterkus. On Mark's blog, points are being made about the overhaul of athletics and afterschool, in particular that there would be less of a
> pressing need to loop the teachers (ie, to have teachers follow the kids
> from 9th to 12th grade) when the kids are in sports and activities
> with empowered coaches.
> Full blog posting with the slide show:



Observer said...

Could you explain this thread? I'm confused. On one hand , you are discussing teachers who follow their students up the ladder, from 9th grade through senior year. Then somehow athletics are thrown in. I'd like to read more in both regards, as I have strong opinions in both areas.

Mark Rauterkus said...

You can read more at my blog. Link enclosed in that post.

Looping is welcomed as it gives students caring adults that follow the kids year-in-and-year-out. Coaches also follow kids year to year and season to season. But, the PPS Administrators have not seen the value and benefits of using coaches as a way to provide caring adults in the lives of the students.

The coaches need to be more engaged and more empowered. And, we need more kids in sports too.

JV teams, year-round programs, more options to accomidate other kids for wellness and beyond -- not just the high-performing jocks.

These caring adults are also helpful in getting kids into college -- PROMISE bound. Jeepers, that is what good coaches do all the time.

mk said...

Several years ago during the initial phase of High School Reform a lot of ideas were floated among parents who discussed the presentations made by the Task Force. For some of us "looping" was a new term. The practice of having a teacher move on to the next grade level with our student was attractive to those of us who liked our kid's current year teacher. Take special note that I said "liked" and did not cite our kid's performance learning from a teacher as the reason we favored looping.

While Middle and High school are great opportunities for a kid to explore sports never played before, it is also a time many kids stick to a sport they grew up playing. Perhaps using a kid's attachment to a sport can be used as a method to improve his performance in academics. To do this it seems logical to make an athletic coach a key player in monitoring and encouraging a student. If a kid plays soccer for a coach during four yers of high school the coach has the greatest chance of getting to know the student. If the coach loops through four years with a student he has the greatest chance of counseling the student consistently and of being the personalization factor needed for a positive outcome.

This leaves a lot to talk about, I am sure, including how high the standards might need to be to qualify someone as an athletic coach.

Observer said...

You will have to pardon me for saying that in a time when our district is seeking to "focus" on teachers and eventually dismiss others, and during a period in which schools look to be closed, this conversation can only seem to be frivolous, at best.
The idea of looping is about as old as dirt. It's odd to me that a superintendent would discuss this strategy but then again, no one should ever confuse him or his lieutenants with being academically inclined. Economics, budgets, statistics, research-oriented, public relations savvy, sure. Understanding how Johnny learns? No.
As for the coaching thing, it sounds like a personal commentary by a parent with a nice coach or two. Again, with all of this district's ills, I'd have to question the timing or immediacy of the need.

Anonymous said...

It never really was the superintendent who discussed looping or any other strategy with parents. Rather, it was parents hoping to make the system they chose a more attractive option with something different considered. Parents discussed other things too like single gender schools for example.

The idea of making athletic coaches more a part of the package also comes from parents discussing needed improvements to the counseling model. What is offered to students now is lacking and what happens does not seem to match what is written down. Middle school kids go to ninth grade without ever having sat across the desk from a guidance counselor. Somebody hands out a paper to the eighth graders and they select classes. Unless somebody who has gone through the ninth grade nation experience cares to correct me now I will keep my ear to the ground to see what happens with the many 8th graders I know this year. The Pathway targets certain grades as critical in assessing college readiness. It is the limbo years in between that concerns many others.

Observer said...

You make good points, anon, but in reality, lip service is paid to a great many groups within this district and after a short time, we return to business as usual. I don't sell the Roosevelt administration short, mind you. These are not stupid people who cannot remember what concerns are out there. Instead, they understand the dynamics of Pittsburgh. Small groups of concerns rarely achieve a groundswell of support and as such, those concerns tend to evaporate. They're perceived as minor and I have always looked at opportunities to voice concerns as public relations posturing of little consequence in reality.
These are smart people, and they could give a damn about what any teacher or parent thinks.

Mark Rauterkus said...

It was posted above: "Perhaps using a kid's attachment to a sport can be used as a method to improve his performance in academics."

No doubt about it. Sports and athletics improve academic performces. Proven. Researched. Understood everywhere else in the world.

In China, even, they are making great strides (pun intended) to engage their kids in sports in all school settings.

In many of the greatest schools here (say Shady Side Academy and West Point), students must be in sports.

Meanwhile, at PPS, we open schools where it is nearly impossible to be in sports and it is a hostile experience for most.

Mark Rauterkus said...

Looping and coaching in the schools and in 95% of the sport settings is 'built in' today. We do not need to being to loop the coaches as the coaches are already doing this. Coaches follow kids for 4 or more years in most settings. Meanwhile, it would be greatly disruptive to loop the teachers and the teachers are NOT generally looping.

What does need to change, as stated well in the prior posting, is the inclusion of coaches onto that consulting / counciling team of educational professionals.

Those teams that look out for our kids in a proactive way haven't been constituted within PPS anyway yet -- beyond that of the coaches or else the security guards (I guess}.

If the overall plan is to have some adults watch out for, guide and champion, (etc.,) our kids throughout the years of the students progress in schools, then the coaches should be deployed with gusto.

Empower and value the coaches and the overall realm, PPS.

Of course, there are countless ways to get more students involved in sports and with coaches and to make those interactions far more valued and beneficial.

Anonymous said...

Observer said "These are smart people, and they could give a damn about what any teacher or parent thinks." These statements are contradictory. If they are so smart they would listen to the insights of parent amd teachers who care enough to comment.

amymoore said...

Anon 6:15, it might sound contradictory that " 'they' are smart people but don't listen to parents and teachers" but it is sadly true and will be evident in the long run. MR controls the media. Teachers and parents who complain are just disgruntled about their own personal losses, not thinking of the greater good. He has pretty effectively muffled the Schenley parents even though we were and are some of the most educated about school issues. Teachers are afraid to speak out because of the new evaluation system. In the short term, the negative effects of not listening to those who have knowledge of the everyday workings of the system hasn't hurt him because of the media control. No one has looked at the declining numbers to see why parents are pulling their kids out. There was lots of publicity about UPrep doing a better job than Schenley for the neighborhood kids. What is happening there now?

Mark Rauterkus said...

Speaking of media control:

Mark Roosevelt will be on KDKA Radio, AM 1020, this morning. I expect it will be at 9:05 am. But the show is from 9 to noon.

Questioner said...

Of the 134 kids that started 9th grade at U Prep, only 84 returned to start 10th grade. While many who started 9th grade at Schenley did not return the next year, the percentage seems worse at U Prep- despite the added expense and attention.

Anonymous said...

Re Mark Roosevelt will be on KDKA Radio, AM 1020, this morning. I expect it will be at 9:05 am. But the show is from 9 to noon.
They would do better to put the other Mark R on.

Anonymous said...

Where did the non-returning kids go? Parents are looking at options for 8th graders moving on to ninth and I feel strongly that the transportation system here is a serious drawback to promoting attending a magnet. Some neighborhoods are located in transportation friendly communities. South Side is one area where public transportation seems to be above average, but other southern neighborhoods provide fewer options. It would be interesting to see how many students getting bus passes to attend a high school magnet actually use the pass everyday. My informal polling tells me more kids get rides from parents and others than you might expect. This indicates a situation where students getting less support from home have options that require real dedication and desire on their part.

Anonymous said...

Mark Roosevelt to be on the air at 11:30 am at KDKA AM, 1020. WED., today.

Questioner said...

Speaking of coaches Mark would you please us in on your proposal for summer camp?

Mark Rauterkus said...

I made 4 camp proposals for summer enrichment for middle school kids for 2010. All of mine, and all of the other 58 proposals were kicked out due to $ issues.

The bulk of what I put in made it to the web. Cover letter, implementation plans, budgets, etc for:

Swim and Water Polo Camp
Junior Lifeguard Camp
Olympic Sports Camp
Sports Manager and Entrepreneur Camp

Another deadline looms large for the end of next week.

I'll try to make a new literacy camp so as to meet Title I guidelines. I'll call it "Olympicpedia" that builds on what I did in summer 2008 before we traveled to Beijing.

Surf around here:

Mark Rauterkus said...

Copy and past this URL. It fits:

Anonymous said...

The coach idea sounds somewhat ridiculous to me. Sorry. As for looping, isn't that idea supposed to be attached to the idea of teachers going to "underachieving schools" and then having merit pay?

Mark Rauterkus said...

What coach idea sounds somewhat ridiculous????

Looping is not just for "underachieving schools" and merit pay.

Looping is a way to teach the student and not the subject. Looping is to present more care.

I contend that the capacity to offer care for students throughout four or more years can be greatly enhanced with an overhaul of coaches and athletics and afterschool so as to get great benefits yet not be so disruptive to the educational day and teaching models.

The underachieving kids need mentors and champions who pull them along and into real engagement with positive systems, not drop out.

Humans are social creatures. Especially 12, 13, 14, 15 year olds.

I'm a big believer in gangs.

Gangs can be orchestras, swim teams and intramural hoops -- positive gangs. Or, not.

Anonymous said...

"I contend that the capacity to offer care for students throughout four or more years can be greatly enhanced with an overhaul of coaches and athletics and afterschool(sic) so as to get great benefits yet not be so disruptive to the educational day and teaching models."

You are proselytizing to the crowd here, sir. Whether in PPS or in suburban schools, there have always been stories where individuals have taken coaching positions thanks to the attraction of additional salary. What's your point? As a former high school and college athlete, as a teacher, a coach for two decades, you will note that such coaches disturb me, too. And for this, you will call for an overhaul? Make sure that you include the idea of preventing parents from getting too close to programs, while you're at it. Make sure you provide athletic directors with the power to make sure that real coaches are not harassed by parents who feel that they somehow know more than accomplished coaches or that their child is going to be playing at the D1 level if the coach just plays him or her more.

These days, more programs are destroyed by meddling parents and student athletes who can't quite understand the ideas of commitment, team play, hard work, perseverance.

Pardon me, but I get a little tired of the lumping of all coaches into one group in order to complete "an overhaul", and that comes as someone who has done it right for a long, long time.

Yes, good coaches can do wonders for kids in their schools too, and this is especially true at the middle school level. Been there, done that, long before your kids were in the district, I am sure. Yes, it can have positive outcomes. But as stated previously, this entire commentary seems somewhat frivolous to me given the period we find ourselves in. With all of the energy you are putting forth, can't it be spent in more constructive, holistic ways that will remedy problems like family flight and the like?

Mark Rauterkus said...

I'd love for you to make me a to-do list. Then I'd be sure to be more productive with my energy and proselytizing investments on the internet and beyond.

1. Family flight
2. ...
3. N@
4. ???

Meanwhile, $100 Million +/- from the Gates Foundation is about to arrive into the PPS system and also offer a tidal wave of new energy and efforts. That money targets TEACHERS. Teachers have an exclusive contract to serve as COACHES in PPS due to union contract.

I'll hit the to-do list hard while another 50 families depart PPS next year due to better athletic opportunities in sports settings in the WPIAL. That sounds like family flight to me.

The lumping of coaches here in one category is because the PPS is absent minded as to coaches and caregivers and teaching empowerment. These realms are not in their understandings as to global considerations yet. That's why the overhaul of their priorities matters. My aim is to get it (coaches as partners in following students) on the radar.

Anonymous said...

Mr.Rauterkus, pardon me for saying it but, that's baloney. If 50 families were going to leave the district because of athletics, they will do it even if your attempts to overhaul the athletics within the district takes hold. They knew it when Johnny first started throwing a football or Jenny first started hitting a 3-pointer.
To a great degree, the overwhelming reason sports suffers in the city is because of the lack of recreational programs in communities and the idea that a great many high school kids lack the character to dedicate themselves to athletics.
There is a reason our city champs will routinely get massacred in the first round of states, other than in hoops, and that reason is the talent has been built over years within the community and then formed at the school. Name the sport other than basketball where this does not apply. Your overhaul targets teachers as being individuals who are simply taking paychecks. The reality beyond your perception is that even the best coaches are reliant upon their athletes. If the girls at Perry aren't into soccer, routinely miss practices and don't even bother to pick up a ball until September, no amount of coaching genius is going to get them with 6 goals of Schenley, where the kids play in rec ball, club ball and have a commitment to excellence.
This is the same story in most sports and at most schools. You continue to exemplify the idea that one's perception is one's reality. The trouble is...the district is a big place and that broad brush simply misses a lot of the real facts.

This comment is rather troubling:
"Meanwhile, $100 Million +/- from the Gates Foundation is about to arrive into the PPS system and also offer a tidal wave of new energy and efforts. That money targets TEACHERS. Teachers have an exclusive contract to serve as COACHES in PPS due to union contract."
That you employ the word "targets" is alternately humorous and tragic. I suspect that this money will ultimately bring a great many changes in the district, and with them, a great many non teachers into the education "business", all with the support of the Gates and Roosevelt cosa nostra. You then discuss the idea of teachers being coaches, a fact that is true in most districts. I have to wonder--do you personally wish to be a coach?

"The lumping of coaches here in one category is because the PPS is absent minded as to coaches and caregivers and teaching empowerment. These realms are not in their understandings as to global considerations yet."
Huh? Global considerations? Coaches and caregivers? Teaching empowerment?

Let me say this. 20 years ago, there were a great many of the teachers you discuss taking paychecks in sports they knew little about. 20 years ago. I am sure that depending on the sport and the school, there are still situations like this: Westinghouse and baseball or softball. Perry and soccer. Oliver and baseball or volleyball.

I've been to those kinds of games. I'd agree that the guy or gal in charge looks like they were the only person who'd take the job. Some are aides. The reason overall is that in most cases, the kids don't come out and don't really care. How will overhauling this type of situation help families stay in the city?
How will we still adhere to Title IX and make Perry a soccer power?

Your reasoning sounds a bit self-centered to me.

Mark Rauterkus said...

MY overhaul of athletics within the district (he, he, hee) would not only retain 50 families that depart but would attract 50 new families as well -- yearly.

That's baloney you can take to the bank!

Gotta run. And, I'll be off line most of the next few days. Enjoy the weekend.

BTW, I am a coach. Started coaching in 1976.

Questioner said...

Query- why PPS is not utilizing someone who is obviously crazy about coaching.

Mark Rauterkus said...

"In most districts..."

I know of no other district beyond PPS that allows union members (teachers) to bump already proven coaches from the coaching duty/positions.

So, in PPS, a non teaching coach could get hired for Perry soccer one year and have a great season while helping a lot of kids by doing a selfless job. Then the next year, a teacher near retiremeent who wants to pad his/her retirement checks for the next 20 years by boosting salary/income in a final years can TAKE that job for himself. Union seniority trumps all in this situation.

PPS also had the weirdness of an ex Perry basketball coach (well loved & successful by all accounts) who retired from the classroom and was forced to hang up his whistle (within PPS) despite his desire to continue coaching. He coached in the WPIAL instead.

Many districts in the WPIAL do not have coaching positions sitting under the control of the union contract.

Mark Rauterkus said...

Title IX does not dictate that Perry's girls soccer team be a basement dweller.

Figure out where you want to go: Mars or Venius.

But with MY OVERHAUL (more giggles) many more students get engaged and Title IX auditors would be pleased.

Say what? "You continue to exemplify the idea that one's perception is one's reality." Really?
Back at ya.

Anonymous said...

Mark you may not have a broad enough frame of reference having only boys and being essentially a stay-at-home father, full-time volunteer for the most part. Many schools have a tough time getting enough kids to come out for a sport to field a team. I have been to games where I joked that if an injury occured which Mom in the bleachers would be asked to suit up. I know coaches who try hard to recruit within their schools and who have frequent communication with feeder schools' coaches hoping to keep interest alive. Not every kid will have a parent parked at the curb waiting to take him home after practice at 5:30 when his high school does not offer an activity bus. I have seen kids leave a gym after practice and stand in a snowstorm at a bus stop. To grow that kind of dedication the effort must start in elementary school. When the recreation in the community does not offer opportunity, the school building where a kid attends needs to be the source of programs.

Coach said...

Mark, I consider you to be very much a loud mouth when it comes to a number of issues, and this one is no different. Your commentary is so full of half-truths and misinformation, as pointed out by others here, that it's hard to get by the idea that there are two reasons for your writing: one, you want to be a coach and cannot crack the perceived union stranglehold on positions and two, you simply have a problem with teachers, in general.
Others here and on other threads have told you to essentially feel their pain, to walk a mile in their shoes. You refuse. You're too busy trying to affix blame.

As for WPIAL schools and PIAA schools, in general, let's try to remember that schools mean teachers. The assumption is that teachers would make better coaches than the average Joe because it is their livelihood to know and understand kids. I'd say that is a pretty good assumption, too. Every district, regardless of whether you know it personally, has its share of parent detractors who see some sort of inequity in how coaching positions are filled. If you've been coaching since '76, you must know that. Most if not all fill the vast majority of their positions with teachers, regardless of perceived union strangleholds. Get off of it, already.

I've read a number of responses to your proposal to overhaul and have yet to see a viable response. In almost each case, the idea is that a great many coaches are at the mercy of their student populations in assembling teams and at least *appearing* competent. This remains the largest factor: kids in the school, and not the coach.
Is there a community program that provided a spark of interest? Is there a middle school or earlier program? If the answer is no, then you are going to struggle to get student athletes to come out, and you're going to be called "money hungry" by parents who are quick to make assumptions.

Questioner said...

This seems harsh towards an parent seeking to share and debate opinions. Most people don't make an effort to get involved. Attack a position not a person who cares enough to try to make a difference (and who for the record hasn't been particularly loud at public meetings).

Mark Rauterkus said...

My frame of reference within sports and throughout this city is extensive. But, that isn't what the discussion is about either.

+ I agree that the seeds of sports performance can be planted at younger ages. (not necessary)

Case in point: North Allegheny's starting boy goalie this year, photo in last weeks P-G North, should have been cut from swim team at 9th grade, had he not done water polo then (raw rookie). Now he is all-state. Matt Biondi didn't swim on a team until HS. Many can begin in HS sports and reach great heights within HS sports.

+ I agree that we need to open the buildings of PPS to afterschool (1 word, IMNSHO) sports programs operated by a host of sponsor orgs.

We're talking about looping and coaches.

Do you want the bus drivers who pick up the kids on the snowing evenings to be looping? Come now.

I've got great faith in our kids. They've proven themselves frequently.

Mark Rauterkus said...

I've got a loud mouth -- like a lifeguard's voice or that of a coach even. But, I seldom shout AT -- and prefer to talk with concerning ideas.

The half-truths and misinformation includes what, exactly?

As to WANTING to be a coach, FYI, I've coached for the last two years at a local university and have taken teams against U of M, and I.U. -- to name a couple. I coach. The perception on 'wanting' of yours is not just half-false, but fully so.

And, I have NO problem, generally or specifically, with teachers, even in PPS. My dad was a PPS teacher. Many in my family are / were. My wife is a 'professor' and does a lot of her teaching with k-12 settings too. Way wrong. And, it still isn't about the topic at hand but a personal attack that must be countered.

When have I ever not walked a mile in someone's shoes after an invite? When offered, I'll ask if I can run as well as walk. Jeepers.

Sports isn't the livelihood of the teacher. Academics is. If you want to unfold the livelihood card, then we can go there. A professional coach has a livelihood within sports (gym, field, etc.) that exceeds that of the classroom teacher. Hell, if teachers don't move their students a grade level, they'll be replaced. Grade tests. Prepare lessons. The real livelihood of the teacher is even anti-sports, some others could argue so as to pop the logic you delivered.

Exact quote: "The assumption is that teachers would make better coaches than the average Joe because it is their livelihood to know and understand kids."

And, I've never said anything about the "average joe." My point is that coaches -- real coaches -- are like those kids in Lake Wobegon, Wisconsin -- ALL way above average.

In the WPIAL, in some districts ZERO teachers coach. The trend in the WPIAL for the past 25 years has been to NOT hire teachers to coach because the teachers don't want the coaching duties. Teachers get paid enough already with teaching (as it should be). Good for them.

I'll bet that a majority of WPIAL coaches are NOT union teachers with normal classroom assignments.

Of course you don't see viable responses when your objections don't hold water. We're not with a shared vision -- especially my ideas -- here.

In almost each case, the idea is that a great many coaches are at the mercy of their student populations in assembling teams and at least *appearing* competent.

You: COACHES are at the mercy of the students.

Me: Students in PPS are hungry for viable sports opportunities -- and some are being served in those regards now, others are not. We can do much better for many more students.

The largest factor is the teaching / coaching-- not the kids.

I think our kids are capable. Do you think that our kids are not capable? You can go there if you want and chat away if YOU think that a student can't kick a ball because of his or her own image in the mirror and perhaps what street he or she lives on.

Is there a community program that provided a spark of interest?

YES. The Gates Foundation $ sparked the interest in looping. That's a flame flower of a spark.

Of course there is always a struggle to get students engaged in school activities. Well, unless there are great sports programs and then there are often waiting lists and program expansions as necessary.

Coaches like Pitt's Jamie Dixon (men's hoops) might be called "money hungry" by some. Coaches that read the newspaper and grade tests in practice might get the same remarks.

Parents who complain are not the problem here.

Furthermore, our kids are not the problem here either.

Deflecting blame to those areas and onto me is not what I'm about.

Nor am I even trying to pin blame at all. I'm trying to fix it -- as in better our educational opportunities, especially beyond the dismissal bell.

Mark Rauterkus said...

I did put out an interesting "I bet" statement in the thread above. It hasn't been challenged, yet. I admit it is a risky bet on my part.

Throughout the PIAA, I have it on good soruces that a majority of the coaches in HS sports ARE teachers. Hear say stuff.

I feel that a great number of coaches are also teacher aids, sub teachers, councilors, etc. A bunch of those folks are not the typical classroom teacher.

Of course, when possible, teachers that coach are hired. One told me that when a teacher is also going to coach in the district -- that is the best of all worlds.

That brings us back to the original point of the GATES Foundation money and efforts needing to have glancing awareness of coaches in the district.

Anonymous said...

Sir, if you went to college, you had your chance to be a teacher and a school level coach. Your "aim" sounds to me as if it a personal agenda.

Questioner said...

Of course we have a "nontraditional" superintendent, so who's to say we wouldn't benefit from a few "nontraditional" coaches?