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“Calm Down!”

Comments (0) Posted in Learning, Practice by Phil Amos on February 12th, 2015

I was recently observing a swimming lesson for 5 year old’s. Well, actually I was enjoying a coffee without paying much attention, until I heard the swimming coach say rather sternly to one of the children, “Calm down”. This got me thinking, do we really want our learners to ‘calm down’ or do we want them to be excited about learning and use that excitement to sustain their motivation to learn?

Two Types of Excited.

As I coach I see two types of excited behaviour. I see ‘Excited – On Task’ and ‘Excited – Off Task’.

‘Excited – On Task’, might be:

• Excited – engaged.
• Excited-interested.
• Excited – curious.
• Excited-improving.
• Excited-“I’m working it out!”
• Excited “I wonder if I can do the next level-up?”

‘Excited – Off Task’, might be:

• Excited-bored.
• Excited-confused.
• Excited-overwhelmed.
• Excited self-conscious.
• Excited-“I’m not as good as everyone else!”
• Excited – “I wish we were doing running, I’m good at that!”

We coaches should be aiming for excited learners, ‘Excited – On Task’ learners.

Copy Video Games.

If you have ever watched anyone playing a video game you will see a lot of, ‘Excited – On Task’. Video games create, ‘Excited – On Task’ by having levels that start easy and gradually get more difficult.

The motivation behind the progressive levels goes something like this:

• “I’m on level 3”. Current ability – Success.
• “I used to be on level 2”. Evidence of improvement – Success.
• “I’m nearly at level 4”. Belief – Future Success.

Video Games challenge the player to ‘work-out’ each level through experience and practice. This might be:

• “I am learning what I need to do to progress to the next level; I am working this out”. Learning – Success.

Video Games also have points which help to provide incremental evidence of moving towards ‘success’. Even if our gamers don’t complete a level, they may score more points – “I’m getting closer to completing this level”.

Adding points scoring to our practice sessions benefits our learners by:

• Quickly turning practice into a game like activity; helping to promote ‘Excited-On Task’. ‘Excited – Fun’.
• Helping our learners fail and fail again better.

So if we design practice sessions that look like video games, with levels and points, we create opportunities for success. We increase our chances of coaching ‘Excited-On Task’ learners. We minimise having to say, “Calm down”.

Please leave any questions you may have in the comments.