Basketball is my favorite sport. I played the sport for 7 years, starting early on and playing through my senior year in high school.

My coaches ran a tight ship, they did. No mistakes were allowed. God forbid we turned the ball over or missed a free throw.

“Free throws win games.”

“No one should ever miss a free throw…it’s a free shot!”

The words of people who inspire you are never forgotten.

Defense is important and “…wins games.” But you got to score too. If you’re going for the win you have to put some points on the board.

My team was pretty good. We played mostly charter, private, and home school teams in the state. We ran a no nonsense offense. Put up the points. And boy did we! We once beat a team by over 80 points. Our offense dominated.

Enough bragging. How does this apply to the classroom? How do teachers develop good offense in their rooms?

First off, don’t treat everyday like it’s game day. Somedays it’s practice. Somedays you just have to be silly. Everyday has to be fun. You have to teach the heck out of it, but remember to balance, otherwise you’ll burn out.

Secondly, identify your opposing team. Boredom. Conventional/traditional teaching. Kids zoning out. Kids finding every excuse to leave the classroom. Frustration. You add your opponent to the list. Identifying what you’re up against gives you the chance to draw out some “plays” and rewatch (reflect on) some of your opponent’s “highlight reels”.

Practice patience. “[An offensive] play is like a fine stew. Let it cook and develop.” Your new ideas may take time to develop. That’s okay. Nothing amazing happens over night. It takes time. Don’t freak out if everything doesn’t come together right away. It will.

Next, be flexible. “[An offensive] play is like a guide. You don’t always have to follow it to the T.” Just this week, I taught a lesson that, while still connected to our unit, was not at all planned. It was a big offensive move that paid off in the end. But I had to have that flexibility to be able to see the different route I could take based on the “play” that I already had in mind.

It’s also important to identify your resources. We ran plays designed to draw the defense out, just so we could dump the ball in inside and score underneath the basket. But we knew that we had some accurate shooting guards as well. What resources do you have that you’re not using? Collaborating with other teachers? Experiences? Community leaders and guest speakers? Equipment? Technology? Your own passions? Knowing what’s in your arsenal will give a place to launch from. You’ll start to see more options when drawing out a plan of attack.

Run every play intentionally. Make everything you do purposeful. We passed the ball with the intent of getting it to the intended teammate. We called specific plays based on weaknesses we saw in the defense. Everything must be intentional. Especially in our classrooms. This takes practice, planning, and intuition. You have to have to fundamentals down, but you must also know the game.

Offense is where magic takes place. Jordan played good defense, but everyone remembers his dunks, his buzzer beaters, and that famous switch hands in mid-air layup. As teachers I feel like we play defense an awful lot. Maybe that’s why we’re frustrated. We’re constantly trying to fight and defend ourselves, but we never go on the offensive. Why not?

Let’s stop being reactive and start getting proactive. Let’s play offense.

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