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Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Prepared and Ready Wins the Game

Throughout my career as a soccer player in high school, college, and beyond, and extending my view as a spectator, I have noticed something peculiar about goals tallied in certain time frames of a soccer game.

I have come across statisticians that have confirmed my perception. That is, there are a disproportionately higher rate of goals scored in the first and last five minutes of each half of a game. What does this mean? And, what does it have to do with education and instruction???

First, there are many possible reasons for this anomaly in soccer goals - and we will transfer that perspective to a school setting later in the Blog. 

However, one primary attribution points to preparation and readiness. Teams that are well prepared for the game, mentally as much as physically, and  focused at the sound of the opening whistle to start the game or second half, will have an advantage over an opponent who is prepared but not ready. In other words, teams at risk for winning may begin the contest with an objective and strategy, but aren't at peak alertness in the first minute.

That may account for the percentage of goals scored in the first five minutes, but what about the last five minutes of the half or game?

During that time, goals scored are largely a function of which team is yearning for a break at halftime as a refuge for the physically exhausted and/or an escape for those emotionally weary of the persistent attack or momentum of their opponent, and which team exhibits endurance physically and a relentless commitment to pursue success.

It's a difference between a team playing "not to lose" as opposed to a team that "plays to win." They both reflect an aversion to losing, but their perspectives reveal their potential outcomes.

How does that work in school?

At this time, schools are all preparing for the fragmented November (Veterans Day and Thanksgiving and half days for Parent Conferences) and entering December within view of an eagerly anticipated holiday break of at least a week.
The school staff that limps through this time period, hoping to make it to those days off, is less likely to achieve the gains made by a staff at a school that recognizes the advantage of consuming every minute as an opportunity to advance learning experiences and leverage progress toward instructional goals.

Conversely, how schools re-start after a weeks vacation, be it holiday, winter, or spring break, determines how far they will go toward attaining yearly objectives. Does your school instantly re-focus and pick up where it left off before the break, or do they slowly assemble and eventually stumble to the starting line? 

The moral of the story is to be prepared, ready, and willing to optimize success in school by sustaining focus and intensity each and every day without wasting the valuable resource of time by resting and easing into these breaks in the school calendar. The most affluent and high performing schools have the same limited amount of time as the most impoverished and lowest achieving school. Among the distinctions between the two is how they use that available time. 

Be game ready! (but enjoy the holidays too) 

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