An attribute that I have admired during my career is that outstanding math coaches develop their students. Early in a student’s career, each coach develops a plan for success. During this time period a student’s strengths and weaknesses are determined. Decisions are made as to what concepts need to be taught to increase a student’s ability to succeed. To help the entire team, a coach needs to develop a plan that can help students from various grade levels.
While coaching at McAllen High School, I worked with students in grades 9 through 12. Early in the school year, I would focus my attention on students with the least experience. During this time, I would develop lessons that established the foundation for each of the contests (Number Sense, Calculator Applications and Mathematics) that I coached. To expedite the learning process, I taught concepts that were needed for success in all three contests. At this time, my more experienced students spent time taking practice tests. In general, each practice session was an hour long. The first forty minutes I provided a lecture for the least experienced students. The last twenty minutes I answered questions for the more experienced students.
I wrote materials to assess the mastery of what I was teaching. In conjunction with the lessons, I provided my students with facts and formulas that they were expected to memorize. These were integrated into the assessment materials that I developed. When I determined that the least experienced students were ready, I allowed them to begin taking practice tests. My goal was to integrate these students with the more experienced ones.
Once students began attending mathematics tournaments, I began providing lessons on concepts or problems that I determined were appearing on tests administered at these tournaments. After each tournament, I spent the initial part of practice sessions addressing these problems and the later part of the sessions to answer any additional questions that students had.
Individual and team goals were set early in the school year. I provided an assessment of their competitors, so that all team members could determine how much studying and practice would be required to succeed. Throughout the year, I made sure that students learned how to self-analyze.
Students were shown results from tournaments they attended to assess how they were progressing in relation to their competitors. Students were made aware of adjustments that were needed to insure that each improved their performances. Throughout the year, students were continuously evaluated to determine lessons that needed to be prepared to ensure success.
Each student was encouraged to do the best with their abilities. I worked at making learning fun. I wanted all students to enjoy time at practices and tournaments they attended. I worked at helping students bond with teammates. Success was not measured by awards won; they were measured by how much students improved.