Can coaching a bunch of teenage girls on a soccer field make you a better teacher? A new book co-authored by Clark University professor Eric DeMeulenaere, “Reflections from the Field: How Coaching Made Us Better Teachers” (Information Age Publishing, $24.95), argues just that.
DeMeulenaere and his co-authors James E. McDermott, part-time faculty member at Clark University; Chad R. Malone of Premier Elite Athlete’s Collegiate, and Colette N. Cann of Vassar College, offer concrete lessons and suggestions for the classroom from the athletic field and gymnasium through colorful narratives written by teacher-coaches and commentaries on their stories.
“[This book] offers a different portrayal of teachers—particularly urban teachers—than is commonly offered by the media and by school reformers,” said DeMeulenaere. “It does so by telling the stories of several amazing teachers who learned a lot about what it takes to be effective with students from their experiences coaching sports.”
Sarah Michaels, professor of education at Clark, described some of the narratives as “riveting and moving.” In the Foreword of the book, she wrote, “Compelling, useful, emotionally inspiring, and cogently argued with evidence, the book will change you as you think about teachers, their knowledge, and their value.” Michaels suggests every pre-service teacher in the U.S., every teacher-educator, and every practicing educator read the book.
The book takes us from soccer field to the volleyball court and through the gym and delivers stories about trust, honesty, teamwork and leadership. Some of the stories, DeMeulenaere argues, “are ultimately much more powerful for teaching than learning about curriculum design or classroom management.”
“We hope these lessons can help teachers (and coaches) everywhere reframe our national conversation about what makes for powerful and effective teaching,” said DeMeulenaere.
DeMeulenaere is assistant professor of urban schooling in the Jacob Hiatt Center for Urban Education at Clark. Prior to that, he taught middle and high school social studies and English and coached soccer in Oakland and San Francisco, Calif. In 2004, he co-founded and directed an innovative small public school in East Oakland that focused on social justice and increased academic outcomes for youth of color.
DeMeulenaere has also worked as a consultant with urban schools, assisting them in transforming their organizational cultures to better serve the needs of students. Since arriving at Clark, he has worked directly with teacher inquiry teams at partnership schools and has continued to teach courses to high school students there. He works to engage teachers in critically examining their teaching practices and developing more liberatory pedagogical practices. DeMeulenaere is currently working on the manuscript for his second book, “The Academic Activist.”
“Reflections from the Field” can be purchased at any major online bookseller or directly from the publisher.
DeMeulenaere’s book is just one of several academic works highlighted at Clark’s Salute to Faculty Scholarship on April 11. To access a complete list of faculty books and creative works from the past year, visit the Faculty Scholarship Web page.