That coaching feeling

My granddaughter, Ivy, and I went to our first out-of-town swimming carnival together. The event, for junior schools in and around Goulburn, was held at the Yass Memorial Swimming Pool (also know as the Yass Olympic Swimming Pool).

Ivy’s home pool is 18 metres, Yass is 50.

We had the best part of two hours in the car across country to chat, talk about excitement and nerves.

Ivy has had the good fortune of having swimming lessons with Sharon Blinco at Braidwood. This has given her a great technical introduction to swimming.

We arrived early enough for Ivy to have a ‘warm up’ swim. It was a cold start but Ivy had an opportunity to come to terms with a finishing wall that was 32 metres further than her home pool.

Ivy was swimming in the 50 metres freestyle early in the event. I mentioned to her what ‘marshalling’ was and asked her to look at the start of a couple of races to make sure she was aware of being called to the start and the signal to start.

Whilst Ivy was off with her school friends, I watched some of the early relay races. I saw three swimmers who got me thinking how I might work with them. They stood out amongst their peers.

The coaching feeling I had was about how I might structure their learning environments and how Ivy would flourish in their company through observational learning and conversation.

For a while I was off exploring that coaching feeling. Then it was Ivy’s race.

She swam beautifully, a very long way. She was exhausted after the 50 metres but was radiant with the glow of achievement.

That set me off again about how as a coach I might induct young people into the joy of play and their journey into competition if they wished.

We stopped for pancakes on the way home. Great recovery food … but that was a conversation for another time.

Supporting playfulness

I was fortunate to spend three days in Penguin, Tasmania over Christmas.

At the west of the town is Johnson’s Beach. I was particularly interested in the layout of the beach area in the context of ongoing discussions in my home town, Braidwood, about how to create play spaces within the town’s heritage area.

There is a skate park at Johnson’s Beach.

I liked the clarity of the code of conduct there:

and the guidelines:

The signs and the space were very well kept and exemplified the ‘RESPECT’ invitation of the signage.

Around the corner from the skate park are some exercise machines (Fit for Parks). They have a beautiful outlook to the west.

The machines are well maintained, have very clear instructions for use and include a QR code for each station that links to a video for further information.

When you have finished the work out or the skate and scooter manoeuvres, there is a place to relax and enjoy the view.

I thought the facilities at Johnson’s Beach were exemplary. Their co-location made it possible to have an inter-generational space. We were there during the school term and saw a small number of young people use the skate park (on scooters). We did see people using the exercise stations and I saw two people use their smart phones to check out the exercises.

The area was very clean and I had a sense that there was a shared responsibility for its upkeep and appearance.

I do think that examples like this can support the conversations we are having in Braidwood about creating play spaces for young people whilst acknowledging the concerns some people have about the town’s heritage.

Photo Credits

Keith Lyons (CC BY 4.0)

#coachlearninginsport … smelling the coffee

A picture of people meeting outside Dojo's Bakery chatting over coffeeMy aggregator collects a diverse range of posts and tweets about sport and performance.

I have not set it to search for posts about ‘coaching’ but sometimes it turns up some delightful surprises.

Today, for example, I was alerted to Rachel Hooper’s ‘The Best Coffee Break You’ll Ever Have‘.

Rachel describes her participation in a Modern Learning Event and shares a timeline of her day at the event.

The combination of coffee and coach learning is an important conjunction for me so I was immediately attracted to Rachel’s post. I have found coffee a wonderful social lubricant in conversations with coaches. In my days at the AIS it extended to some fine coffee roasts including Monsoon Malabar and Yirgacheffe. After an Olympic swimming success in 2004, I did serve Kopi Luwak to a coach. Only when she said how much she had enjoyed it did I mention the origins of those particular beans.

Rachel’s experience at ‘the best coffee break you’ll ever have’ sounds like the kind of place in my picture to accompany this post. The picture is of the garden at Dojo’s Bakery in Braidwood where people from the town meet to enjoy coffee, catch up on and share news. It is in Rachel’s terms ‘open space learning’.

By coincidence, I was pitching an idea to a conference organiser for an unmeeting component of the conference. Unmeetings set their own agendas. They are not chronologically time constrained. At Rachel’s event:

We were in charge of our own learning and experience for the day. We were encouraged to identify when we getting nothing from the learning experience and simply walk away. Because the rules of the day were so clear, walking away from a conversation was not seen as ‘rude’ but as an indication the individual might have got what they needed from the discussion, or simply wished to change the subject for something more relevant to them.

I am keen to explore the personal dimensions of coach learning so I am determined to push the boundaries of what coach learning contexts might be.

A picture of the cake and coffee counter at the Albion Cafe, Braidwood.

I apologise for repeating myself from other Clyde Street posts but I do think my own learning journey has been to let go of ‘coach development’ and to focus more on ‘coach learning’. I am keen to move the conversation from personalised learning to personal learning.

As Stephen Downes (2016) suggests:

In the case of personal learning, the role of the educational system is not to provide learning, it is to support learning. Meanwhile, the decisions about what to learn, how to learn, and where to learn are made outside the educational system, and principally, by the individual learners themselves.

Personal learning is like shopping at a grocery store. You need to assemble the ingredients yourself and create your own meals. It’s harder, but it’s a lot cheaper, and you can have an endless variety of meals. Sure, you might not get the best meals possible, but you control the experience, and you control the outcome.

Rachel is attending another Modern Learning Event in January. I will be keen to learn how that goes because once you hit the open road and start sipping Kopi Luwak there is no coming back to development and everywhere to go with personal learning journeys.

Part of the open learning journey is the transparent sharing of experiences. I am delighted Rachel was able to write about her day in Nottingham at the coffee break.

Photo Credits

Dojo’s (Keith Lyons, CC BY 4.0)

The Albion Cafe (Albion Cafe website)