We are teachers 24/7. During a typical high school athletic season (JV or Varsity), teacher-coaches come close to making that expression a reality. The coaching staff of the SRSS JV Boys’ volleyball team coached the team to a Provincial Championship this fall which required about 400 hours of work after in-class teaching assignments ended. As sweet as winning is, a time investment of that magnitude requires more than a desire to win a game. Let me share why I think coaches choose to spend time in a non-traditional classroom and why we believe it is a proven path and an essential component of Deeper Learning for our students at the SRSS.
Randy Dueck, in his description of Deeper Learning on the HSD website states, “…Deeper Learning can mean almost anything, what do we mean when we say Deeper Learning? We mean a clear focus on learning those essential skills, dispositions, knowledge, and values. We mean more relevance, more rigor, more curiosity, more connections, more questions, more clarity, more community, more preparation for a digital world, and even more adventure.” Over the last 3 months, the student-athletes in the JV Boys’ volleyball non-traditional class experienced “more.” They experienced more instruction, more feedback, more refinement, more teamwork, more successes, and more failures, which guide the learning for future success. They had the difficult task of learning how to be teammates while competing with each other in order to push the boundaries of individual performance for the betterment of the team. Just like in traditional classrooms, the learning had times of peaks and valleys and successes and struggles. I noticed many of these aspects in the day to day routine of practices, matches, and tournament play of the SRSS JV Boys’ volleyball team. The coaching staff of Greg Loeppky, Brent Giesbrecht and Justin Gallego created a welcoming, safe environment for deeper learning to occur. They developed relationships with all the team members which resulted in trust and many opportunities to engage the SRSS student-athletes to learn more deeply. Over the last 3 months, they came together as a team, invested the time, effort and energy in order to be a success in a highly competitive environment. I witnessed this deeper learning come together for this non-traditional class in the final project: the MHSAA AAAA Provincial JV Boys’ Volleyball Finals.
On Monday, November 25, 2019, at the University of Manitoba’s Investors Group Gym, the SRSS JV Boys’ volleyball team battled Westgate in the finals of the Volleyball Provincial Championship. Just like any major project or final exam, the nerves were high, and even though there had been many hours of preparation, there was still a real concern that the performance in the final project would not go as planned. Nervousness and doubts about their preparation crept into their minds. They had questions like: Are we ready? Are we good enough? Can we do this? Many doubts began to emerge as stress mounted. As the time elapsed during this final assessment it became apparent that the hundreds of hours of deeper learning that had occurred in the areas of Character, Communicator, Collaborator, Critical Thinker and being Creative were deeply embedded as lessons learned. The SRSS JV Boys’ Volleyball team earned their well deserved A in the final assessment and won the MHSAA AAAA JV Boys’ Volleyball Provincial Championship securing this team in the history books as the best JV boys’ volleyball team in the province. In doing so, they have created learning that will be transferred to many areas of life, as well as creating memories that will last a lifetime.
In addition to the deeper learning that occurred for this team, there was also deeper learning that I witnessed in the stands. SRSS students, teachers, parents, and SRSS community members banded together to create a great culture and community in support of the Sabres. They lost their voices cheering this team to victory. The SRSS school community, culture, and spirit were proud, high and on display for all to see. It was great to witness the collaboration and desire to achieve a common goal. The Sabre Nation was out in full force to support, experience and share in the Sabres’ deeper learning and ultimately, the victory. It was amazing to experience. The battle, the competition, and the striving to achieve a common goal serves as evidence of learning for all involved, those on the court and in the stands. As one of our senior, experienced teachers at the SRSS always reminds us:
OUR SCHOOL. OUR TEAM!
Author: Henry Kasdorf, SRSS Staff