Halftime in the Learning Locker Room

Halftime for Learning

Why do so many sports have a halftime — and why don’t we do that more in life?

At halftime, teams pause, gather in their locker rooms, catch their breath, reflect on their efforts, listen to coaches, support one another, and refocus before heading back into the game.

In life — and in school — we don’t do that. We take vacations, we do performance reviews at work, we give grades in school, but we don’t do halftime pull-backs and pep talks.

Last week we spent a day at Waterloo that can best be described as a locker-room halftime gathering. We called it ‘Presentation of Learning,’ borrowed from our friends at High Tech High in San Diego.

Each grade had a time where they gathered with the entire faculty, and each student shared a few minutes of reflection on how they are doing as a learner: what they’re learning, what they’re struggling with, what they are proud of ‘so far.’ These reflections could be about anything — class, sports, arts, work, clubs, church.

Classmates listened, clapped, nodded, spoke wisdom and observations, affirmed, commiserated, and celebrated with each other.

Teachers listened, clapped, nodded, spoke wisdom and observations, affirmed, commiserated, and celebrated with their students.

During this time, we also referenced the students’ individual annual plans made last August (in this analogy, the ‘game plan’). For some, their game plan was an important part of their choices and success. For others, new realities called for new priorities and new plans — just like in real games. Either way, we all got to talk about possible future plans and goals.

More than a graded assignment — or even a performance review at work — this day provided a growth-focused, student-centered, public-yet-private time together. It was deep, focused, fast, and fun. Afterward, students stayed on campus late into the night playing and having fun together as teens!

Why don’t we do that more in life? I don’t know. Perhaps because we never did that in school, which shapes how we approach life. But it’s not too late.

Stop. Gather. Reflect. Share. Listen. Support. Cheer. Get back in the game.

Craig Doerksen

Craig Doerksen

Prior to becoming the director of Waterloo School, Craig provided leadership for a number of prominent institutions, including Regents School of Austin; the Bluetower Arts Foundation in Eugene, OR; and Trinity School in Raleigh, NC. Craig holds a master’s degree in English from the University of Ireland and graduated from the University of Oregon with a bachelor’s degree in English.