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Ten Ways Coaching Helps in the Classroom

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Rodel Teacher Council member Jared Lelito teaches math in an inclusion classroom at Fred Fifer III Middle School in the Caesar Rodney School District. In addition to teaching, Jared coaches football, basketball, and baseball for the Caesar Rodney High School Riders.

During his time in the Caesar Rodney School District, Lelito discovered a few ways coaching has helped improve his teaching in the classroom. Here are just a few.

  1. Builds Rapport
    Some teachers spend roughly an hour with their students five times a week. Coaches, on the other hand, may spend upward of 15 to 20 hours a week with their student-athletes. The sheer amount of time spent together builds a rapport and fosters comradery. I find that players who are willing to give 100 percent on the field will also give their coaches 100 percent in the classroom.
  1. Improves Communication
    All coaches give a multitude of verbal and nonverbal commands. Baseball coaches give signals, football coaches speak jargon, and basketball coaches use dry-erase boards. Variance in communication is the key for coaches, and helps educators diversify their own classroom communication skills.
  2. Helps Determine Style of Learning
    Students don’t all learn the same way and neither do athletes. For instance, Phil can’t understand the play until he sees it taking place on the field, while Jack needs the play diagrammed on paper. Coaches develop a mixed bag a teaching styles for the field and can also use the same strategy in their classrooms. Students benefit from an educator who employs a variety of teaching methods.


  1. Reveals Responses to Discipline
    It is no secret that coaches often “talk loudly” during practices and games. While some athletes do respond to verbal aggression, others aren’t motivated by yelling, screaming, and shouting irrationally. Coaches can quickly decipher how their players and their students will react to different styles of motivators.
  1. Focuses on a Common Goal
    Anyone involved in sports knows that a long season requires a ton of focus. As a coach, you may lose a game to a rival school but still make the playoffs. Similar situations occur in the classroom. Teachers have to not only focus on the unit being taught but the course as a whole. Even if a lesson goes awry, good teachers and coaches keep their eyes on the big-picture goals.
  1. Drives Competitiveness
    Athletics drives competition. Competitive students on the field often become competitive in the classroom, and healthy competition can motivate students to push each other to succeed. “How many points did you score in the game last night?” can turn into questions like, “I got a B+ on the science exam, how’d you do?” The drive that a student-athlete needs to be the best on the playing field often translates into the classroom.


  1. Creates a Sense of Community
    Coaches stress being active community members. Whether the student-athletes know it or not, they are role models in their community, especially to younger classmates. Community involvement can instill a sense of commitment that allows the players to feel like a larger part of their school, their school district, and their neighborhoods.
  1. Begins a Life Long Bond
    Any athlete will remember the game when the coach put him in the right position to score the game-winning bucket. He could be 70 years old and still remember it like it was yesterday. Coaches and athletes create a bond that that can continue even after the season ends and the class is dismissed.
  1. Prepares Students for their Future
    A coach can be one of the greatest advocates for student-athletes pursuing a sport at the collegiate level and achieving success after high school. Coaches monitor grades, run study halls, and coordinate with other teachers to ensure their athletes are working hard in the classroom. The carrot of an athletic scholarship can motivate athletes to succeed on the field and in the classroom.
  1. Shows a Fun and Genuine Side
    Coaches are different people on the field. When the competitive juices start flowing, coaches, like athletes, often take on alter egos. Athletes see their coach in a different light and may start to see him as a little more “human.” And humanizing on the sideline often leads to respect in the classroom.


Teacher Newsletter – November 2016

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Rodel Teacher Newsletter is a resource for Delaware’s teachers to learn about teacher leadership opportunities across the state, nation, and world.

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Rodel Teacher Council Policy Briefs Released


With the 2016 election season officially over, members of the Rodel Teacher Council this week released a series of education policy briefs and recommendations they hope will inform our state’s new and returning elected officials in 2017 and beyond.

The four policy briefs were researched and written by RTC members. They delve into a variety of topics relating to personalized learning—an approach that utilizes technology and other strategies to address students’ individual needs and maximize their strengths. The briefs identify current challenges and barriers in place, and offer recommendations to shift policies and scale personalized learning stateside.

They include:

During the 2016-2017 term, the council will continue its work of scaling personalized learning statewide while removing barriers to personalized learning currently in place. As with previous years, council members will meet with and hear from key education leaders and policymakers, and in the winter, they will host a personalize learning workshop for fellow educators.


2017 Making A Difference Conference (Presentation proposals due: Nov. 15)
The Delaware Head Start Association and the Delaware Association for the Education of Young Children will hold the Sixth Annual Making A Difference Conference on Friday, March 31 and Saturday, April 1. They are seeking qualified presenters to share their knowledge, and proposals for an engaging workshop at the 2017 conference. For more information, please contact conference coordinator, Diane Frentzel.

Knowles Science Teaching Foundation Fellowship (Applications due: Nov. 27)
If you are a high school math or science teacher who is new to the profession, a KSTF Teaching Fellowship is an opportunity unlike any other. This fellowship provides the financial and professional resources you need to establish the foundation for a successful STEM teaching career.

Fulbright Distinguished Awards in Teaching Program (Applications due: Dec. 1)
The Fulbright Distinguished Awards in Teaching Program provides funding for highly accomplished U.S. primary and secondary level educators to take part in an intensive professional development program for three to six months abroad.

EIEIO Childcare Nomination Information (Nominations due: Dec.15)
The Expanding Inclusive Early Intervention Opportunities (EIEIO) committee would like to recognize high quality early childhood educators who represent the components of inclusion: access, participation, and supports. Please send completed nominations to

UD Education Technology Conference (Presentation proposals being accepted)
The University of Delaware Educational Technology Conference will be held Saturday, March 4. The conference is a joint effort by the College School, the Education Resource Center, the Office of Educational Technology, and the Education Graduate Association in the College of Education and Human Development. All educators are invited to participate, and proposals for conference topics are currently being accepted.

Must Read Stories





Save The Date

EdTech Happy Hour Hosted by the Rodel Teacher Council (Nov. 14, Newark)
Join the Rodel Teacher Council for a happy hour at Stone Balloon Ale House. Come to network, engage, and share your favorite ed tech tools with other Delaware educators. This event takes place in conjunction with Delaware Innovation Week, an annual celebration of technology and innovation. Admission is free. The Rodel Teacher Council will provide appetizers and one drink ticket for all attendees.

A day of networking, learning, and catalyzing STEM in the state and celebrating accomplishments of the 2016 STEM Award applicants.The Delaware STEM Educator Award recognizes a teacher or team of teachers at the elementary, middle, and high school levels that demonstrate STEM innovation and excellence through teaching, academic collaboration, and student engagement.
ESSA Community Conversations (Nov. 16, Nov. 21, Nov. 29, Dec.1, Dec. 8, various locations)
The Delaware Department of Education will host a second round of community conversations to collect public input on the first draft of the state’s plan under the new federal Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). The first round of community conversations and online surveys in September provided public input that is informing the first draft of the state’s plan, which was released on Oct. 31. The second round of community conversations will allow department leaders to receive feedback on the draft.
Learning Forward 2016 Annual Conference (Dec. 3 – 7, Vancouver)
Learning Forward’s 2016 Annual Conference will provide educators with outstanding content and valuable tools to bring the most powerful forms of professional learning back home to the educators with whom they work. Gain practical solutions to the challenges you face in your classroom, school, or district every day. This conference offers powerful strategies to build school leader capacity.
The Summit on Professional Learning Communities at Work (Feb. 22 – 24, Phoenix)
Build and sustain a strong, collaborative professional learning community. This unique event brings the PLC at Work champions—Richard DuFour, Robert Eaker, Rebecca DuFour, Mike Mattos, Anthony Muhammad, and Tim Brown—together with some of the brightest, most respected minds in education. You’ll hear dynamic keynotes and attend powerful breakouts designed to help infuse the PLC at Work process into every aspect of your school or district.

University of Delaware SOE Colloquium series (Ongoing)
The 2016-17 colloquium series will foster an extended conversation about topics related to education across disciplines and grade levels, especially diversity and inclusion. Invited speakers Ed Brockenbrough, Marilyn Cochran-Smith, Robert Lee, Janine De Novais, and Jessica Shiller will participate in a special theme titled “Framing the Conversation Towards Engagement and Transformation: Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in Education and Human Development.”

Personalized Learning Tip Of The Month


Personalized Learning SD

Rodel Teacher Council member Mary Grace Flowers takes us on a tour of her library media center, complete with green screen and flexible learning spaces for students. For more ideas on how to create flexible learning spaces for your students, check out these resources on EdSurge and Edutopia!

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What Delaware education can learn from the Urban League National Conference

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The 2016 Urban League National Conference in Baltimore brought together political, business, and community leaders to provide attendees with professional, civic engagement, and networking opportunities. The theme was Save Our Cities: Education, Jobs, and Justice.


There was a common conceptual thread that arose in all sessions and plenaries: choices. Many felt the nation is struggling today because of past choices. For instance, the nation chooses to spend more on prisons than on education. This choice has led to less money for school infrastructure, teachers’ salary and resources for students. Now is the time to make better choices.

During his speech, Secretary of Education John King outlined five choices that can be made to improve education in our nation and that can be easily applied to our state of Delaware. They are:

  • Invest in early learning
    During a recent visit, Sec. King gave Delaware good marks in this area. In order to maintain our progress, we must continue to choose to invest in the momentum underway. Currently, around $9.4 million will go to support early learning initiatives like professional development activities for practitioners in early care and education, early childhood mental health consultation, developmental screenings and surveys, community readiness teams, and more. As outlined in a blog post by my colleague Melissa Hopkins, this number is still short of Governor Jack Markell’s recommended $11.4 million. At the end of this year’s legislative session, we eased off the gas as we travel toward quality, early access for all of our young learners and need to ensure we are making the right choices for them.
  • Increase resources
    Our state’s school funding system is flawed, outdated, and unfair to students. It is in need of a major revamp, increased oversight, and transparency for the public. In his speech, Sec. King acknowledged that although solving the funding issue is crucial, increasing resources means more than just adding dollars to the system. Resources can come in the form of more counselors to help guide high school students to postsecondary success, whether they attend college or join the workforce. Resources can come in the form of better digital infrastructures and tools for teachers to implement blended and personalized learning. Resources can even come in the form of providing a more diverse selection of course options to prepare students for life outside of the classroom. Choices regarding money are often the most difficult to make. Yet when it comes to education, we must remember that increasing resources means more than just spending money, and how we spend has a major influence on the success of our students.


  • Develop systems of accountability and supports
    Sec. King urged the audience to take advantage of the opportunities the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) is going to provide. Everyone can be involved by attending community conversations, meeting with elected officials, monitoring the process at the state level and most importantly by paying attention and intervening. In fact, this was a common theme throughout the conference. During the State of the Urban League Address, president and CEO Mark Morial warned the audience to stop ignoring the plight and issues in our society. We are accountable to pay attention and tell the stories of those who are unable. ESSA gives states more control of their education system. In other words, how they handle accountability, standards and assessments, the teaching profession, and other areas. Recently, the Rodel team developed a series of short summary briefs that spell out the information everyone needs to know, and the questions that should be asked when it comes to ESSA.
  • Work to diversify schools
    A recent report stated that segregation in New York schools can start as early as pre-k. Wilmington has had its own dance with this issue. Sec. King recommended looking closely at housing policies and school zones to combat this problem. While the WEIC plan ended on a somewhat positive note this year, Delaware should consider the consequences of segregating schools and make the choice to change this pattern.We also need to focus on diversifying not only the student population but the education workforce as well. This includes teachers, administrators, coaches, and counselors. In Delaware, we know that the teaching population does not match the student population and situations like these can impact the student experience. Diversifying the workforce can be done by offering loan forgiveness programs and providing resources to retain teachers in our state. A perfect example of this work underway is the Teacher Leader Pilot, where current Delaware teachers are working with their peers to gain professional development and encourage them to stay in the classroom.
  • Encourage local engagement
    Sec. King stressed the importance of local engagement as a way to improve education. He mentioned mentoring programs like My Brother’s Keeper and how ones like it are vital to helping and supporting our students. It is no secret that Delaware is a small state and if you are like me you are surrounded by people who know this and the advantages it brings. If all sectors, industries, and communities work together to strengthen each other’s initiatives to support our students there is no way that we can lose. Examples of collaboration and local engagement can be seen in the Delaware Department of Education’s ESSA community conversations that occurred in September. For more opportunities for engagement, check the Vision Coalition’s upcoming 9th Annual Conference on Education. This event brings together voices from around the state and beyond for an engaging and interactive day focusing on the future of education.

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