- During practice, our coach often demonstrated what skill we should be targeting, and then sent us on our way to practice. This is similar to a mini-lesson in a writing workshop. The teacher demonstrates a new style or reviews a previously taught concept, and then students disperse and work on their writing.
- We often did drills where one at a time, we would each try a new passing technique or block at the net as the rest of the team watched, just like a student would do when sharing their work with the class or a small group. The nerve wracking experience of having all eyes upon you as the rest of your peers watch you demonstrate your skill is the same in both situations.
- As a freshman we often watched the varsity team practice and we were required to watch their games. They served as our mentor texts. Because they were more advanced than we were, we observed what they were doing right (and wrong) and tried to mimic that during our own practices.
- Our coach supervised the team in ways that mirror a writing teacher’s role in a writing workshop. We were always given a task, and when that task was finished, there was always another skill to work on. The coach modeled the skills she wanted us to practice and master, and was available to provide constructive feedback as needed. We learned volleyball by practicing and playing, the same way writing skills should be developed. Expecting students to learn to write by only focusing on one type of genre (the expository essay, for example) is the same as expecting to win a volleyball game when the team has only practiced serving. Sure, the serves will be good, but a team can’t win a game without developing a well rounded skill set.
This was an unlikely metaphor to consider, but as I thought about it, the coach vs. teacher comparison is actually a very fitting description in a writing workshop setting.