Are there lessons for leading a classroom in professional football? Plenty, according to experts on a Harvard panel, who among other things suggested educators should study the team dynamics of the National Football League (NFL).“If one person blows their assignment, the game is shot. It very much relates to the relationship between teacher and student, and between teacher and teacher . . . [everyone] is dependent on one another’s success,” said Domonique Foxworth, president of the NFL Players Association and former cornerback with the Baltimore Ravens, who urged school administrators to consider the creation of teaching teams.A team-oriented approach to teaching, one that encourages educators to think about the success of a student well beyond the year they spend in a particular classroom, is a vital part of education, agreed panelist Tim Daly, president of the education nonprofit TNTP, which addresses issues of teacher quality.“Teachers who take that long view” are critically important, he said. “It’s the kind of thing that doesn’t get talked about.”“Welcome to Monday Night Football,” said Harvard Graduate School of Education Dean Kathleen McCartney to the crowd at Longfellow Hall on April 2, introducing members of the NFL and the education sector who took part in the Askwith Forum.The idea for the event took shape last year, said moderator Andy Rotherham, co-founder of Bellwether Education Partners and education columnist for Time magazine, when his editor asked him to develop a column around the Super Bowl. He did, and in the process realized there was much more to say.One important method of NFL coaching that can be applied to teaching is the use of video to assess player performance. Experts agree that most teachers receive inadequate feedback on the work they do, with evaluations often consisting of a visit from a principal for a few minutes each year. Not so in the NFL, where obsessive analysis of videotaped training sessions and games are vital to helping players and coaches understand what they do well and what they need help with, said Brendan Daly, defensive line coach for the Minnesota Vikings and brother of Tim.For Foxworth, studying film was the key to his longevity with the league. “I was successful because the plays that I made were all cerebral; they were plays that I prepared for,” he said. “I recognized they were coming, I saw the keys, and in a split second I was able to make that decision.”While NFL teams rely on video to improve performance, the majority of the 3.2 million public school teachers in the country have little or no access to video footage of excellent teaching being done by their peers, or of their own teaching, said Tim Daly. “It strikes me that there is a total lack of infrastructure in education,” for this kind of feedback.“If we want people to be excellent practitioners in the classroom and we want them to know what they are doing,” he said, “we have to invest more in helping them learn these techniques.”Athleticism is certainly a factor in evaluating talent, but what sets a player apart is his ability to study and learn the game, said Brendan Daly, who is also a former teacher.We ask ourselves “what is his ability to learn, what is his demeanor toward learning … how is he going to learn, absorb, and understand the game,” he said. “That, in my personal opinion, is the difference between the guys who make it and the guys who don’t.”The main “nuts and bolts” of teaching is very similar, agreed his brother. “It’s how you prepare for class; it’s how you respond to things when they go wrong. It’s how you learn from your mistakes, and how capable you are of changing.”He compared a complicated play on the football field to everything that happens in one class.“A good teacher can tell you all those individual decisions that they are making and why.”Like the building blocks in education that take a student from learning the letters of the alphabet to forming words and eventually reading a book, football players have to master the fundamentals before moving on to advanced techniques and complicated plays, said Brendan Daly.“The important thing is to believe in the fundamentals and work toward mastering them.”
…as robberies, beating escalate – ‘F’ Division Commander says probe launched into river attacks Saying they are at the mercy of the ruthless Sindicato Gang, miners operating in Upper Cuyuni riverine areas in Guyana’s administrative Region Seven are begging the Government to provide escort services as they traverse the river following attacks by members of the said gang.The miners claim the situation is hampering their businesses, and that in recent times, members of the Venezuela-based Sindicato Gang have set up camp about three miles below Eteringbang, on the Cuyuni River, and are stopping all boats (both Venezuelan and Guyanese), demanding gold and cash for fuel, ration and other things that are being transported for their operations.“This Sindicato Gang is heavily armed, and would fire at our boats if we do not stop. They also have boats, and would drive up to us if we do not stop,” the miners complained.One victim of the Sindicato Gang who was brutally murderedThey noted also that a group of Sindicato Gang members have recently set us another base at Butanamo, about 20 miles further down the Cuyuni, and are doing the same thing to persons traversing the river.Miners are calling on Government to intervene and provide protection for them. “We are hereby calling on the Government and military to urgently address this situation that is affecting our businesses significantly, by immediately providing escort services for our boats through these two zones,” the miners have pleaded.Efforts to contact Public Security Minister Khemraj Ramjattan, to enquire whether he is aware of the situation and if any action has since been taken, have proven futile. However, Commander of the Police ‘F’ Division (Interior Locations), Senior Superintendent Kevin Adonis, told Guyana Times that the Police are aware of the situation, and have since launched an investigation.“Preliminary investigations revealed that they (the miners) are going on the Venezuelan side of the River, and we can’t do anything, because these people are in Venezuela, and we can’t go other there,” Commander Adonis explained.He pointed out that since receiving the report about a week ago, and after investigating same, the Police have been urging the miners to stay in Guyana’s waters and avoid going over to the neighbouring territory.“When the joint service went there and we found that the (Guyanese) miners are going in the people waters, we cautioned them, but they want go mine in the people water… But we can’t do anything if they get attack over there, so that’s why we’ve been telling them not to venture out over there,” the Divisional Commander related.Over the past year, there have been increasing reports of members of the Sindicato Gang crossing over to Guyana and terrorising persons here while robbing them. Asked about this, Senior Superintendent Adonis said those are unconfirmed reports. He noted that the miners would usually lodge complaints, but there is no supporting evidence to point out who the alleged culprits are.Last year, there were several cases wherein local mining camps were attacked and robbed, reportedly by perpetrators crossing over from both Venezuela and Brazil. According to the victims, the bandits were speaking fluent Portuguese and Spanish, which suggest that they are not Guyanese.Minister Ramjattan had explained, in an interview with the Guyana Times, that the bandits could very well be Guyanese who are bilingual, having lived in the neighbouring countries or close to the borders.“We don’t know; and from what we are hearing, it is not as if we have gotten the information as to whether they are Guyanese or non-Guyanese, because there are thousands of actual Guyanese who have been living in Venezuela and know the Spanish language very well. And so I won’t go that far to say… What I can say is that there are masked men armed heavily, speaking foreign language that is not the English that we know; but I can’t say if they’re Guyanese, if they’re Brazilians, or if they’re Venezuelans or whatever. It’s difficult at this stage, unless a couple of them have been caught, and then we can know for sure,” the Public Security Minister had stated.In addition to these attacks, a horrific video was circulated on social media back in January of a young man, believed to be Guyanese, being butchered by members of this Venezuelan Sindicato Gang.Over the past weeks, President David Granger has been making visits to communities along the borderline with Guyana’s western neighbour, announcing plans to beef up security in those areas.The formation of more Community Policing Groups (CPGs) was one of such measures undertaken to ensure the protection of citizens in those frontline communities.