Byron's Babbles

Learning From SMART Coaches

Posted in Coaching, Education, Education Reform by Dr. Byron L. Ernest on March 18, 2012
Coach Hendrix in SWELL

Coach Hendrix in SWELL

This past week I wrote a post for EDCompass Blog entitled, SMART Coaching. In this post I described how I learned from our basketball coach, Albert Hendrix, how to better differentiate instruction. I encourage you to click here to read the post because I want to go a little deeper in this post. As I reflected on the way Coach Hendrix teaches I realized he is doing what Christensen, Horn, and Johnson (2011) described as “student-centric” in Disrupting Class: How Disruptive Innovation Will Change the Way the World Learns, Expanded Edition. I had this book recommended to me by Scott Shelhart (@KD9SR) during the #TalkToTony Education Twitter Town Hall a couple of weeks ago with Dr. Tony Bennett, State Superintendent of Public Instruction.

Christensen et al. (2011) discussed how our educational system is monolithic and needs to be more student-centric. By monolithic the authors mean we teach to only one learning style. Student centric means teaching to the way a student learns. Coach Hendrix teaches is a student-centric manner. By using the SWELL Classroom he is able to split the team up according to, not only different line-ups, but also the players’ knowledge of the game. Additionally, for those that are more spatial learners (need to see or visual) than kinesthetic, the triangulated SMART Boards give Coach Hendrix the ability to show players what they need to be doing.

What I learned from Coach Hendrix is that all players have specialized needs. They are all at a different starting point, have varied learning styles, and all learn at different paces. In other words, just like every student I teach. You might say every student is “differently-abled.”

During the 1800’s education was customized and student-centric by the teacher for level and pace out of necessity – all students were in one room. It is now important for us to once again become student centric. “Teachers can serve as professional learning coaches and content architects to help individual students progress – and they can be a guide on the side, not a sage on the stage” (Christensen et al., 2010).


Christensen, C.M., Horn, M.B., Johnson, C.W. (2011). Disrupting class:How disruptive innovation will change the way the world learns, expanded edition. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill Companies.