April 03, 2012

Defining Details?

Details matter. Greatness exists in the details. While it is important to keep the big picture in mind, and not get stuck in the minutia, getting the most important details right is worthy of the required investment of time and energy. Regardless of the realm, whether it is academics, sports, or the Arts, the difference is made by the way the student, athlete, and artist works out the finer issues of their endeavors; even the ones nobody else can see. The extra time spent in study and review, training and practice, reworking and editing defines the excellence of one’s efforts.

In academics, teachers guide their students through the learning process. An effective instructor provides a series of steps for their pupils to follow that allow them to address the most important finer details along the way, and not push them off to the end. The teacher needs to be well prepared for the facilitation of the lesson or project, having worked out as many different scenarios and potential problems as possible to help anticipate what the students will encounter at every step. Experience helps, but is not a requirement for successful instruction.

In athletics, coaches motivate their athletes as they prepare for competition. It is the job of the coach to understand and address the athlete’s needs in order to efficiently progress in their sport. Everything from nutrition to sleep patterns can positively or negatively effect performance, and it is up to the coach to make sure that the athlete is aware and focused on all significant areas at all times. Athletes who are best prepared both on and off the field have the best opportunity to be successful on the field of play. The details of training will give athletes the competitive edge.

In the Arts, students want freedom to express themselves on a variety of levels. That is a good thing. It is the duty of the art teacher to provide structure and process to that creativity. Of course there are always some students who establish their own process and need little guidance, but they are the exception. Most artists need constant feedback and direction as they apply their invention to paper, canvas, or computer screen. Pointing out specific areas for improvement, polish, and modification as well as knowing when to push, and when to pull, is part of the art of teaching Art class.

All teachers and coaches want their students to succeed. Teaching students to recognize that it is the details of what they do that make the difference is key. It is our job to not only raise awareness of the value of excellence when working through the details of their work, but also to show and guide our students through the process of addressing the finer details of what they do. We must teach them how to develop their critical eye and to make appropriate and meaningful changes that will improve their efforts and their results. Defining the details with students will equal success!

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